Pivotal day of Peace once more for Parisians

Charles de Gaule liberates Paris

Charles de Gaule liberates Paris

August 25, 2014 – Another pivotal day in the history of France, which we should remember if we love to visit the City of Light, or the City of Lovers, whatever suits your situation.

Today, 70 years ago, Charles de Gaulle,  rode down the Champs Elysses and accepted the capitulation of Hitler’s general. We should also bethankful for this German commander because he did not do what Hitler had commanded him to do – to blow up Paris, so there was nothing left for de Gaulle to reclaim. The beautiful bridges, the ARc de Triomph, the Petit Palace, the Grand Palace, Notre Dame, le Louvre and importantly, the Eiffel Tower, the symbol of the city.   All monuments were already wired to be bombed, but the German general refused to give the order. He did, however, sign his surrender of the city.

Here is another of Olivier’s father’s precious photographs (now framed in Olivier’s study) which captures that delicious moment after the motorcade and the marching invading armies and the two million Parisians who lined the Champs Elysees to welcome de Gaulle back home.

Anyone visiting Paris should take the time to walk around Ile de Cite and read the many plaques which record the invasion, the occupation, the Resistance and most important the day Charles de Gaulle, who had headed France’s resistance from England, liberated Paris for the French people.



France’s Provence Delivered 70 years ago

August 15 1944, Allies delivered Provence

August 15 1944, Allies delivered Provence

August 15, 2014

Seventy years ago, the liberating Allied forces invaded France from the Mediterranean Sea and delivered Provence from the Nazis.  The French news featured an amazing spectacle of remembrance involving a flotilla of battle ships and an Allied airshow.  Hosted by the president of the Republic of France, Francois Hollande, the historic event was attended by European, British and North African leaders, who watched an impressive fly-past with streets of Provence featuring re-enactments of the joyous scenes of deliverance between French and American troops and locals.

My French father-in-law was part of that wonderful event. He had been in a prisoner of war camp in Switzerland and escaped to join up with the liberating Army of French, American and British soldiers. More than one million men were involved.  Here is an historic photograph of that magic moment when the allies arrived in Provence and Olivier always believed his father took this photograph.  But, I was the one who framed the large photograph and now it hangs in Olivier’s study together with two other historic photographs. One is of the Normandy invasion and the other is of Charles de Gaulle walking the streets of Paris once more having taken back the city from the Nazis, who thankfully did not bomb the city as Hitler had decreed.

These three photographs capture the modern history of France and today we need to remember and be grateful for the human sacrifice of thousands of young men, who restored France to the French 70 years ago for us to enjoy as tourists today.