The relief map is a form of geographic representation in relief in the form of a model that was initially a military tool used to visualize development projects or campaigns concerning fortified sites . They presented themselves in the form of a mock-up of ground including the details of the arrangements to the scale.


Construction of a relief plan to the xvii th century ( Manesson Mallet ).
Citadel Brouage – reproduction Terrain map- xvii e (exposed in the century Halle to food . Citadel)

It seems that the first relief planes were used by the Republic of Venice and more generally in Italy since the Renaissance with the appearance of bastioned fortifications and in addition to the traditional cartography 1 .

The wood turner Jakob Sandtner ( fl . 1561-1579) realized the plans relief from several cities in Bavaria .

In France, a collection of relief maps of strongholds was established in 1668 at the initiative of Louvois minister of war of Louis XIV , the king not leaving much of his office at the end of his reign. In one of the 1/600 scale e (which corresponds to the scale of 1 foot to 100 fathoms ) since 1680 , they are a testimony of the state of these towns or fortresses at that time. According to the inventory drawn up by Vauban in 1697 , the collection, installed in the palace of the Tuileries , included 144 relief plans . Engineerstopographers carried out a careful survey of the land, the buildings (measured by the number of windows near), and these data were then delivered to modelers, carpenters (the trays are in oak wood decorated with silk, the houses in linden), decorators who took several years to manufacture and update these plans 2 .

His successors helped extend the collection by operational necessity until 1870 when the power of the new artillery (appearance of the rifled cannonfiring up to 6 km ) and the birth of the staff cards questioned their usefulness, but also because these plans have always been objects of prestige, as evidenced by the relief plans of Brest (1811) and Cherbourg (1811-1813) to the monumental size due to the progress of the artillery which implied to include distant forts and batteries. Falling into disuse, some were destroyed but the collection was classified as a historical monumentJuly 22, 1927 3 .

Case relief plans

In 1983, Pierre Mauroy , then Prime Minister , wants to host in Lille the model of the city stored in the attic of the Invalides since 1777. Jack Lang , Minister of Culture , proposes that the entire collection be transferred to Lille as of decentralization, 40 out of 100 relief plans for cities in the North, Belgium and the Netherlands 4 . In a letter of October 1984, the decentralization committee authorized the transfer of the models. The move begins in December 1985 and, on January 17, 1986, the first models arrive at the Hospice General de Lille 5. The transfer then raises great controversy fueled by the context of election of the 1986 legislative elections and, from the change of majority, its principle is challenged by the new government 6 . The conflict is resolved by an agreement concluded on October 2, 1987 between the State and the city of Lille, which settles the dispute as follows: “The collection remains the property of the State. However, the State puts on deposit at the Museum of Fine Arts of Lille nineteen models representing strongholds of the French border of North-East, Belgium and the Netherlands ” , the essential of the collection to be reinstalled at the Hôtel des Invalides, in a museum of relief maps enlarged 7. In the end, 16 planes-reliefs were conceded in Lille, the others being repatriated to Paris.


  • There exists today in France a hundred of these preserved reliefs plans for most, the Musée des Plans-Reliefs the Invalides and the Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille 8 .
  • A relief map of Strasbourg , created in 1727 for Louis XV , was first housed in the Louvre 9 . Transferred to the Invalides in 1783, taken to the Arsenal of Berlin as spoils of war in 1815 (another is built between 1830 to 1836 under the direction of Pierre Boitard , restored and updated between 1852 and 1863 10 ), returned to France in 1902, installed in the Historical Museum of Strasbourg in 1922, housed in the crypt of the cathedral during the Second World War , temporarily installed at the Ancienne Douaneduring restoration work, he has now found his place in the Historical Museum. The second Strasbourg-relief plan xix th century is now in Paris.
  • The original relief of Bitche ( Moselle ), completed in the Invalides in 1794 and classified as a historical monument in 1983, is presented to the public in the restored chapel of the Citadelle de Bitche 11 . Another Relief plan of Bitche was made in the middle of the xix th century , it is now stored at the Invalides.

Related Articles

  • Museum of Relief Plans
  • Palace of Fine Arts Lille
  • List of relief plans in deposit at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Lille
  • Map of Ferraris (1770-1778)
  • Scale models
  • Italian layout
  • Fortifications and constructions of Vauban


  • Honoré Bernard Philippe Bragard, Nicolas Faucherre (et al.), Relief maps: fortified cities of the old French Netherlands XVIII e s. , Lille Museum of Fine Arts , 1989, 158 p. ( ISBN  2-902092-09-1 ) (Catalog of the exhibition held at the Lille Museum of Fine Arts from 28 January 1989 to October 1989)
  • National Office of Historic Monuments and Sites, “The relief maps,” special issue of Historical Monuments , o 148, December 1986, 115 p.
  • René Faille, The Cambrai Relief Plan , Les Amis du Cambresis, 1975-1990, 2 fasc., 1. Fortifications and military buildings (7 p.); 2. Civil and religious monuments (19 p.)
  • Nicolas Faucherre, Guillaume Monsaingeon and Antoine de Roux, The Relief Plans of the Royal Squares , Center for National Monuments, Biro Publisher, 2007, 159 p. ( ISBN  978-2-85822-936-9 )
  • J. Favier, “A relief map of the city of Nancy, Notre-Dame de Lorette, 1658”, in Journal of the Society of Archeology Lorraine , 1889
  • Christiane Lesage, “About the relief plan of Lille: cardboard soil, its copy and the so-called plan of 1745”, in Bulletin of the Historical Commission of the Department of the North , Volume 48, 1994-1995, p. 61-75
  • Pâris (vice-admiral), Notice of the relief plan of the Suez Maritime Canal: exhibited in the Marine Museum , C. de Mourgues Frères, Paris, 1882, 124 p.
  • “Le plan-relief”, in The Collections of the Historical Museum of the City of Strasbourg: From the Free City to the Revolutionary City , Strasbourg, Museums of the City of Strasbourg, 2008, p. 150-189 ( ISBN  2-35125-053-2 )
  • Antoine Roux, Perpignan at the end of the XVII th century: the relief plan of 1686 , Caisse Nationale des Monuments and Sites, Mission Planning Museum plans refiefs-1990, 64 p.
  • Manuel Royo, Rome and the architect: design and aesthetics of the relief map of Paul Bigot , Center for Studies and Research on Antiquity and Myths, University of Caen Lower Normandy, Presses universitaires de Caen, 2006, 227 p. ( ISBN  2-84133-239-X )
  • Louis Trénard, “The plan in relief of Lille, expression of urban heritage”, in the North Review (Villeneuve d’Ascq) 1992 Volume LXXIV, o 295, p. 309-324

Notes and references

  1. ↑ Sylvain Kahn, “France highlighted: the choice of cards”, Planet Earth show on France Culture, January 25, 2012
  2. ↑ Ghislain de Montalembert, ” Miniature France, royal passion ”  [ archive ] , on ,
  3. ↑ Max Polonovski, museum director of Plans-Reliefs, “A fragile treasure: Louis the relief maps of XIV to Napoleon III” issue at the heart of the story , February 2, 2012
  4. ↑ Nicolas Montard, ” Partnership INA / DailyNord Pierre Mauroy or obsession relief plan ”  [ archive ] , on , (accessedMay 29, 2015 )
  5. ↑ Claude Tronel, Véronique Pons, Yann Gicquel (journalists). The case of relief maps, the beginning of the controversy [ archive ] [Television production]. Lille: France Regions 3.
  6. ↑ ” Questions to the Government, Plans-reliefs ”  [ archive ] , , (accessed May 29, 2015 )
  7. ↑ ” Restoring relief maps Written Question o 03502 of Josselin de Rohan and Response Ministry of Culture published in the OJ Senate 20/04/1989 – page 628 ”  [ archive ] , on , (accessedMay 29, 2015 )
  8. ↑ ” History of the collection ”  [ archive ] , on (accessed May 29, 2015 )
  9. ↑ “The relief map”, in The Collections of the Historical Museum of the City of Strasbourg: from the Free City to the Revolutionary City , Strasbourg, Museums of the City of Strasbourg, 2008, p. 150-189 ( ISBN  2-35125-053-2 )
  10. ↑ Véronique Dumas, ” La France takes relief ”  [ archive ] , on,
  11. ↑ Bitche Citadel [1]  [ archive ]

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