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Left-wing councillors declare war on royalist history of Paris

France 5
3 min

Left-wing Paris councillors want the city to stop promoting a best-selling book and TV series about the city’s history because of its alleged royalist, pro-Catholic slant. Lorànt Deutsch’s Métronome has sold nearly two million copies and the television adaptation attracted a million viewers but it has been accused of factual inaccuracy and bias.

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Métronome takes the Paris metro map as the basis of a tour of the city’s past, stopping at stations for Deutsch to recount events that took place there.

On France 5: Metronome interactive map of Paris

It has been widely hailed as a triumph of a popularising approach to the presentation of history. But for the French Communist Party (PCF) and Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Left Party (PDG) the problem is that the people hardly feature at all.

Deutsch, who describes himself as a “left-wing royalist’ and is a fervent Catholic, presents a history of kings and saints, they say, adding that it “denigrates” popular revolts, including the founding act of the French republic, the 1789 revolution, and the 1871 Paris commune.

The author, who is an actor and not a historian, has said that “the history of our country ended in 1793”, when Louis XVI was executed, and denounces “revolutionary brutality” in his work.

Several historians have criticised Métronome, both for its supposed bias and for alleged
historical inaccuracies. Some of Deutsch’s theories have raised eyebrows, too, such as his claim that Joan of Arc was the step-sister of France’s King Charles VII.

At the three-day Paris city council meeting that starts on Monday, hard-left councillors will call on the city to stop its “uncritical” promotion of the work, which includes mention of it on the council’s website, and to stop it being used by educational establishments.

Like secrets? Find out about the Hidden Paris

Deutsch has been invited to give classes in Paris schools, they say, despite the fact that his work contains “numerous errors, fabrications and historical inventions”.

“Everyone has the right to write and publish whatever they want,” a PCF-PDG statement says, but “Mr Deutsch’s work and its televised adaptation are not educational aids that can be used without critical distance in our schools”.

Deutsch’s supporters have hit back with accusations of an utra-left plot to censor him.

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