Many pages of the history of World War One were written in Paris and the Ile-de-France region: the assassination of Jean Jaurès at the Café du Croissant on rue Montmartre, the first battle of the Marne and of Ourcq, the incredible episode of the Taxis of the Marne that lined up at the Invalides to transport soldiers to the front, the role of the Eiffel Tower, used to intercept enemy messages, the peace treaty signed in the Galerie des Glaces of the Château of Versailles, to name but a few.
From the battlefields around Meaux to the numerous forts of the Paris defensive camp, from the Suresnes American Cemetery and Memorial (with the graves of 1,541 soldiers who died at the front) to the Fayette Squadron Memorial dedicated to the American fighter airmen who volunteered alongside the French, or the Arc De Triomphe, the final resting place of the Unknown Soldier and symbol of all those who died for the Nation…many traces of the Great War history remain in the area, particularly in a wide range of museums that offer a way to discover and underst and the conflict of 1914-1918.
3 museums to get to the heart of the Great War
At the entrance to the Battlefields of the Marne, the rarest collection in Europe at the Musée de la Grande Guerre du Pays de Meaux offers new insight into World War I. With the reconstitution of a battlefield, tanks, film projections and sound effects, its innovative scenography provides a way of understanding of the era while shining light on the major upheavals that subsequently changed society.
Musée de l'armée
The prestigious setting of the Hôtel National des Invalides is home to the priceless collections of the French Army Museum, which retraces the military history of France and the French Army, particularly from 1914 to 1918.
Musée de l'air et l'espace
At Le Bourget, the Aerospace Museum pays particular homage to those who fought from the skies. Among the world-class collection of flying machines, prototypes, models and space objects is the permanent exhibit on the 1914-1918 war waged from the air, showcasing legendary aircraft and the crucial role of flying aces. Other authentic French, German and British aircraft is also on display at the Musée Volant Salis (Salis Air Museum) in Ferté Alais, as part of an authentic living glimpse at aviation.
At the Paris Est railway station, where millions of soldiers famously departed for the front, visitors can admire the fresco, Le départ des poilus, août 1914 (“Departure of French soldiers, August 1914”), a monumental work hanging in the departure hall, painted by Albert Herter in memory of his son, who enlisted in the French army and was killed on the front in 1918.