Sunday, January 6, 2013

Paris - Part Four

Also during our time in Paris we visited l’Arc de Triomphe, commissioned by the Emperor Napoleon in 1806 after the victory at Austerlitz, where the French army defeated a Russo-Austrian army. In 1836, King Louis-Philippe dedicated the arch to those who had fought in the Revolution and for the Empire, and in 1921, the tomb of the unknown soldier was buried beneath the Arc.

Glad I didn't have to drive a car around that roundabout...
When France signed the armistice with Germany in June 1940, Hitler delighted in parading his soldiers around sights that held great meaning for the French, such as the Arc de Triomphe, and hanging a swastika from the Eiffel Tower and then posing for pictures in front of France's great iconic structure.

When the Allies liberated Paris in August 1944, the French took great pleasure in regaining their treasures and a happy parade took place in the streets around the Arc. It was also seen as a sign of the Nazi's impending defeat when the French could once again fly their flag from the iconic Tour Eiffel.
General de Gaulle walking through a newly liberated Paris.
 (Picture courtesy IWM)
We saw the above plaque on the Tour Eiffel, which commemorates August 25, 1944, when the tricolore was once again flown from the Tower.
We also visited Trocadero gardens, the spot from which Hitler's famous photograph was taken in 1940:

We completed our military experience by visiting Les Invalides, a military complex that includes a hospital and retirement home for veterans, as well as numerous army museums. As we walked up the entrance path we were surprised to see these:

It turned out to be some sort of French military re-enactment, including the firing of canons. After that part had finished, the troops paraded around in some tanks and got out this piece of equipment:

And fired it a couple of times. Boy was it loud in such an enclosed courtyard!

When the show had finished, we paid to look around the wider complex at Les Invalides. First on the list was Napoleon's tomb:

The Church that houses The Tomb

Me practising my serious face
The Tomb
And then we paid a brief visit to the WWI and II Museum (before being kicked out at closing time by some very serious French guards).
Me and General de Gaulle have a moment
 What a load of adventures!

Ooh and I forgot to mention this non-military adventure:
Mmm.... raspberry mille feuille...

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