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An “office” between heaven and earth: his life as a crane operator on the site of the Chartres cultural and sports complex

Halfway between earth and sky, the ballet of cranes punctuates the progress of the Colosseum, the sports and cultural complex of Chartres, rue Danièle-Casanova. Initially so imposing, they gradually blend a little more into the landscape, as the building, built by the Briand group (Savoie) rises.
Culminating at 35 and 60 meters in height, the cranes are essential for moving the tons of equipment used for the construction of this titanic 14,000 m² site and supplying the teams on the ground.

At the controls of the highest: Alban Angeville, 55 years old, including thirty-five years in the business, who has now become a site foreman. His office ? A narrow cabin in which he climbed in a few minutes using ladders and an elevator (which does not take you to the very top…) offering an unobstructed 360° view of the city and the cathedral of Chartres. And also on the void… A routine ascent for him, but a real obstacle course for all acrophobics.

A new point of view and surprises!

This job also offers them a unique view of the city. Without being curious, you can sometimes come across unusual everyday things behind the windows, such as the shooting of an erotic film a few years ago in Tours (Indre-et-Loire)…


It is therefore here that he manages, using joysticks (to go up, down, forward and backward) and a camera fixed to the arm of the crane, the day’s missions and the movement of the loads.

“It’s an exciting job, without routine, but you have to be well aware of the risks,” he sums up. Perched in the heights, we are alone, all day, lulled by the maneuvers and the instructions given below using the walkie-talkies. “When I started, there were none. We guided with signs, gestures and we whistled the crane operator. Security and protocols have improved dramatically.

“The rain is not a problem, but the wind is an element to seriously take into account. Beyond 40-50 km/h, we no longer transport concrete walls, and at more than 70 km/h, no one climbs into the crane,” he specifies. The crane is then placed in the “weather vane” position, going in the direction of the wind. You also have to think about it every night, before going back down to dry land.

And the name of the future cultural and sports complex of Chartres is…

From the top of his crane, the site manager also feels like a builder. “You will see when this building is finished, it will be huge! For me, these are challenges, and it’s always a pleasure to see the result, to show my son the buildings I’ve worked on. I do not get enough. »

Up there, precision, vigilance and concentration are the key words. No radio or telephone for Alban Angeville. “The manipulations require a lot of precaution and meticulousness and the slightest error can have serious consequences. I do a lot of sport on the side, it’s a great help to stay very focused. »


The training to access the profession is quite fast – a few days may be enough depending on experience – and validated by obtaining the Caces, the certificate of aptitude for safe driving. A medical examination is also necessary before boarding the crane. An imperative, of course, not to be dizzy.

Alban Angeville’s past as a parachutist in the army was certainly a precious help in taming the heights, which he never apprehended. “There can be a bit of adrenaline, it’s true, but I appreciate that, it’s a positive stress. He willingly admits it with a smile: “We are still people a little apart to like doing that…

This job also allowed him a great professional ascent. “I came in as a labourer, and today I’m a site manager, managing about thirty people. I trained many young people. In the small office where we take coffee, he proudly displays his apprenticeship master’s diploma. “Giving your knowledge is also very important to me. »

Estelle Rosset

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