Paris France Temple
Construction barrier erected with signs; groundbreaking not announced
As of February 2013, a construction barrier has been erected around the existing buildings that stand on the site of the future Paris France Temple. Asbestos is being removed from the buildings, which is required before demolition can proceed. Pending litigation will be resolved before actual construction begins. No groundbreaking date has been announced.
On March 17 and 18, 2012, Church members offered an open house at the Versailles meetinghouse to give neighbors of the temple an opportunity to receive additional information about the temple and to familiarize themselves with the Mormon faith, as a general misunderstanding of the Church exists among French citizens. At the open house, one Church member expressed his understanding for the fear neighbors may feel toward the Church because of the stereotypes that exists, which label the Church as a cult and a culture that lives on the fringes of modern society. "We are quite normal," he explains, noting that Church members simply choose to live certain moral principles such as no alcohol or tobacco, weekly church attendance, and tithing. The open house was organized in response to opposition to the project from individuals who have challenged the acceptance of the building permit.1 Christian Euvrard, director of the Paris France Institute, gave a 13-minute television interview in conjunction with the open house.
Issued October 27, 2011, the building permit for the temple has been approved by the mayor of Le Chesnay for construction on the site formerly occupied by Électricité de France on Boulevard Saint-Antoine, which has been purchased by the Church from the Foncière des Régions. The existing buildings will be razed to make way for the temple, accommodation center, housing, and landscaped gardens.
On June 21, 2010, Le Parisien reported that Church officials were seeking to acquire property in Le Chesnay, in the western suburbs of Paris, for construction of its first temple in mainland France. The buildings that occupy the site were leased by Électricité de France (EDF), but representatives of the company affirmed that they would not be renewing their lease after it expired in October 2010. Since rezoning would not be necessary, construction approval would only require the signature of Mayor Philippe Brillault. "Do we favor the Mormons [for this location]?" the mayor asked. "The answer is no. But we're not against their architectural plans, and the City cannot oppose a request that conforms to the City Plan." Gerald Caussé, First Counselor in the Europe Area Presidency, emphasized that the process was in the preliminary stages only and that nothing had been decided.2
On October 11, 2010, Le Parisien confirmed that the Church had applied to purchase the buildings leased by EDF. However, the article reported that two other interested parties had come forward including the Academy of Versailles and a residential developer. In the end, the owner would be the sole decision maker. Mayor Brillault said the only certainty was that EDF would leave, but it was not known when that would occur. Next, the question was whether to sell or rent, which came with many options and unknowns.3
On July 12, 2011, Le Parisien reported that detailed plans for the temple complex had been submitted to the City for approval. In turn, Mayor Philippe Brillault invited residents of the surrounding neighborhood to a Saturday morning informational meeting. Mayor Brillault explained that the temple emerged early as the strongest and most profitable project put forward by interested parties. He said that, according to his understanding, a temple and housing facility would be constructed with an underground parking facility; he also touted the beautiful gardens that would be open for public enjoyment. The vast majority of opposition, if not all, to the project results from an erroneous perception that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a cult. One Church member stated, "We are victims of misunderstanding and confusion. We are normal people."4
On August 26, 2011, Le Parisien informed readers that the Church had successfully acquired the land on Boulevard Saint-Antoine, formerly leased by EDF, to build its temple, housing facility, and landscaped gardens. Mayor Brillault indicated that following an informational meeting for neighbors in July, the architects agreed to some changes to the design, which pleased them. City planners then had two months to verify that the permit complied with the City Plan.5
On November 9, 2011, Le Parisien announced that the building permit for the Paris France Temple had been accepted by the City—issued October 27, 2011—calling it a "done deal" and making the community of Le Chesnay the site of the first Mormon temple built in mainland France. A member of the City Council noted that because the project complied with the City Plan, there were no grounds to oppose it.6 However, just before the end of the year, four appeals to the approval were received by the mayor from opponents of the project who launched an online petition, arguing the land should be used for low-income housing. The mayor's office had two months to respond.7
On February 8, 2012, Le Parisien delivered the news that all four appeals had been rejected. The mayor explained that none of the arguments were likely to call into question the decision to grant the building permit. One applicant said his resolve was only strengthened and that he would take his appeal to court, which must be done within two months. Church spokesman, Christian Euvrard, said that Church members watch the proceedings closely, sometimes with regret as they are often the victims of stereotypes.8
By April 2012, two administrative appeals had been filed with the objective of cancelling the building permit issued in October 2011. The appeals, which are being examined by lawyers for the Church, were no surprise to Church officials who remain confident in a favorable outcome. The appeals do not prevent work from beginning.9
The Paris France Temple is intended to be constructed just north of the renowned Château de Versailles on Boulevard Saint-Antoine in the suburb of Le Chesnay. The buildings currently occupying the property would be demolished and replaced with the temple, a housing facility, temple president residence, underground parking facility, and beautifully landscaped grounds open to the public.
On July 15, 2011, the Church released an official statement from President Thomas S. Monson acknowledging the Church's hope to build a temple on the outskirts of Paris.10 President Monson gave the official announcement on October 1, 2011, in the opening session of the 181st Semiannual General Conference. After reading a list of several new temples, he stated, "in addition we're moving forward on our plans for a temple to be built in Paris, France."
The Paris France Temple will be the first temple built in mainland France.
On June 4, 1998, during a European tour to dedicate the Preston England Temple, President Gordon B. Hinckley met with about 2,400 members from two Paris stakes and three outlying districts. In his remarks, he noted, "When I came here after the war, there were so few members of the Church, and now there are 30,000 of you." He continued, "I don't want to build up your hopes, but the time has come when you deserve to have a temple among you, and we'll look for a place to build one. I don't know how long it will take to find a suitable site. I invite every one of you, my brethren and sisters, to plead with the Lord individually in your prayers to lead us to a property in this great city, or its environs, where we can build a house of the Lord so that you won't have to travel five hours to Frankfurt or six hours to Zollikofen. Please unite your prayers with ours, and the time will come, and I hope that it will be quick in coming, when we can construct somewhere in this area a house of the Lord, a sacred temple, into which you can go and do that work which is found only in the temples of the Lord."11
In May 2004, President Hinckley returned to Paris, shortly after the dedication of the Copenhagen Denmark Temple. He met with French members on May 28 in a hotel convention hall on the property of Euro Disney. Remarking on the upcoming dedication of the Manhattan New York Temple, President Hinckley expressed, "I wish I could announce that we could have a temple here, but we do not have a suitable place yet, in my judgment, to build it. And so, we will continue to look. I don't know when it will be built, but I am confident that we will have a temple for the French-speaking people of the Church sometime in the future." Continuing he said, "You are worthy of the richest blessings of the Church. You are worthy of every blessing which this Church has to offer. And there is no blessing greater than the blessing of the house of the Lord. And so, my brothers and sisters, I ask you to be patient for a time. I know it is a long way to Frankfurt where you go. I hope that you will continue to go there, but sometime in the future a beautiful house of the Lord will grace this land."12
As the April 2006 General Conference approached, hopes rose that the Paris France Temple would be announced when French media disclosed the Church's interest in purchasing a huge tract of land outside Versailles—about one-third of the small city of Villepreux—reportedly for a temple. A church spokesman confirmed the Church was working with the property owners, but he said that the use of the property had not been determined and that temple locations were announced by the First Presidency. The summer before, President Hinckley had been considering a parcel of land in Saint-Cloud, a suburb of Paris, but attention had now turned to the Villepreux property. The Clerico family, owners of the Moulin Rouge, were the owners of this property as well. Of the three interested parties—an Arab emirate, a Russian, and the Mormons—the mayor of Villepreux said he preferred the Mormons for two reasons: morality and quality of investment. Never has there been any concern about public order with church members, he said.13 No temple announcement was made, however, and in the end, the Church did not succeed in acquiring the property.
1. Francois-Xavier Chauvet, "Yvelines : les Mormons lancent une opération séduction," Le Parisien 17 Mar. 2012, 26 Mar. 2012 <http://www.leparisien.fr/versailles-78000/les-mormons-lancent-une-operation-seduction-17-03-2012-1910495.php>.
2. Marie D'Ornellas, "Les mormons veulent construire leur temple," Le Parisien 21 Jun. 2010, 21 Jun. 2010 <http://www.leparisien.fr/yvelines-78/les-mormons-veulent-construire-leur-temple-21-06-2010-972106.php>.
3. "Les mormons intéressés par le bâtiment EDF," Le Parisien 11 Oct. 2010, 21 Jan. 2011 <http://www.leparisien.fr/versailles-78000/les-mormons-interesses-par-le-batiment-edf-11-10-2010-1104009.php>.
4. Francois-Xavier Chauvet, "Un temple mormon à la place d'EDF," Le Parisien 12 Jul. 2011, 13 Jul. 2011 <http://www.leparisien.fr/yvelines-78/un-temple-mormon-a-la-place-d-edf-12-07-2011-1529224.php>.
5. Marie D'Ornellas, "Les mormons ont déposé leur permis de construire," Le Parisien 26 Aug. 2011, 19 Sept. 2011 <http://www.leparisien.fr/yvelines-78/les-mormons-ont-depose-leur-permis-de-construire-26-08-2011-1579007.php>.
6.Françios-Xavier Chauvet, "Le maire a dit oui au temple des mormons," Le Parisien 9 Nov. 2011, 10 Nov. 2011 <http://www.leparisien.fr/espace-premium/yvelines-78/le-maire-a-dit-oui-au-temple-des-mormons-09-11-2011-1709366.php>.
7. "Quatre recours contre le projet de temple mormon," Le Parisien 28 Dec. 2011, 29 Mar. 2012 <http://www.leparisien.fr/yvelines-78/quatre-recours-contre-le-projet-de-temple-mormon-28-12-2011-1786487.php>.
8. Francois-Xavier Chauvet, "Les recours contre les mormons rejetés," Le Parisien 8 Feb. 2012, 29 Mar. 2012 <http://www.leparisien.fr/espace-premium/yvelines-78/les-recours-contre-les-mormons-rejetes-08-02-2012-1850612.php>.
9. Francois-Xavier Chauvet, "Les mormons n'abdiquent pas," Le Parisien 8 May 2012, 16 May 2012 <http://www.leparisien.fr/espace-premium/yvelines-78/les-mormons-n-abdiquent-pas-08-05-2012-1989158.php>.
10. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints News Release, "Church Statement on Temple in France," 15 Jul. 2011.
11. "President Hinckley Meets Members in Maine and Europe," Ensign Sept. 1998: 75–78.
12. "'You are worthy of the richest blessings,'" Church News 5 Jun. 2004, 16 Jan. 2009 <http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/45669/You-are-worthy-of-the-richest-blessings.html>.
13. Carole Mikita, "LDS French Hoping for Temple Announcement," KSL.com 30 Mar. 2006, 16 Jan. 2009 <http://www.ksl.com/index.php?nid=299&sid=184058>.