France commemorates the Great War - World War 1

By Atout France | Published on December 04, 2013
  • American cemetery, Colleville-sur-Mer. Overlooking Omaha Beach, it pays tribute to the American soldiers killed during the Normandy landings by the Allies during the Second World War.

    © Atout France/Franck Charel

    American cemetery, Colleville-sur-Mer. Overlooking Omaha Beach, it pays tribute to the American soldiers killed during the Normandy landings by the Allies during the Second World War.

    © Atout France/Franck Charel

  • Visitors in front of the Flame of Memory on the the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, beneath the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

    © Atout France/Franck Charel

    Visitors in front of the Flame of Memory on the the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, beneath the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

    © Atout France/Franck Charel

France commemorates the Great War - World War 1

France
Commemorates the Great War - World War 1

2014 will be the centenary year of one of  the most
violent and deadly wars that history has ever recorded - World War 1. Lasting 4
years, this war saw an involvement of millions of men from France, Britain, Germany,
Canada, Australia, New Zealand, America, Russia, India and Senegal engage in
daily combat. Claiming more than 9 million lives, the war paved the way for
more major political conflicts and was instrumental in shaping the history of
the world in the years to come.

The Indian Army was a significant contributor to the
efforts of the Allied forces with a number of divisions and independent
brigades provided to the European, Mediterranean and the Middle Eastern
battlegrounds. In August 1914, as the German Army made rapid advances in
Belgium and France, the Allies found themselves in want of more manpower to
guard the Western Front. With its strength of 161,000 men, the Indian Army of
undivided India seemed the best option and the Lahore and Meerut infantry
divisions were selected for service in Europe. They were thrown into battle
near Ypres soon after they arrived in early October and both divisions incurred
heavy losses. After the First Battle of Ypres, Khudadad Khan became the first
Indian to be awarded the Victoria Cross.

100 years later, France offers its visitors a chance to
relive the events of this war which shaped the world's history. Visitors coming
to France can expect artistic depictions in the form of installations and
exhibitions including bilateral collaborations, remembrance trails in French
regions and new site openings and renovations. Some endeavours include:

2 April - 3 August  – Jardin du Luxembourg railings-
Paris

Fields of Battle – Lands of Peace 1914-1918

The contemporary photographic exhibition by Mike Sheil, on
the Jardin du Luxembourg railings, creates a path between the settings
of today and the battlefields of the past by simultaneously paying homage to
soldiers from over 30 nations and embodying the messages of Peace - building
and intergenerational dialogue.

War Tragedies at the Louvre Museum in Lens ( 28 May - 6
October):
An
exhibition presenting a rich collection of works inspired by disenchantment
with war. One of the main sections will shed new light on representations of the
First World War.

14 July - 11 November at
Paris Gare de l'Est

Presented at the emblematic
Paris Est station, from which the soldiers departed for the front, this
photographic collection is unique. It consists of portraits taken between 1996
and 2007, showing the last survivors of the conflict who were the 100 years
old. In 2008, after the death of Lazare Ponticelli the last of the WWI French
soldiers, Didier Pazery worked on the pictures of the old frontline, and on
still-life photos of objects belonging to The Great War Museum in Meaux. This
series appears in the exhibition, alongside the portraits of the last
survivors.

September 2014 - February 2015 – Musée des Beaux-Arts,
Reims-Champagne

Peace, 1910-1925? Fronts and wings of Franco-German art: This exhibition brings together the work of German and
French artists on a selection of topics illustrating the consequences of the
Great War on the lives of men and women.

The 2014 edition of the Tour de France will pay homage to
the memory of the fallen soldiers of the Great War by including on the route many
sites where the war was fought. The Tour de France will go through Flanders,
Artois, Aisne, Champagne, Verdun and the Vosges mountains. Lille, Arras, Reims,
Epernay, Nancy and Mulhouse will all host various stages.

In addition, visitors can also include in their agenda new
sites and renovations of several venues dating back to the Great War. In Paris,
3 museums will pay homage to the war in their own distinctive styles - the
Musée de la Grande Guerre du Pays de Meaux, Musée de
l’Armée (French Army Museum) and the Musée de l'Air et de l'Espace ( Aerospace
Museum).

Interested visitors can also
embark on remembrance trails tracing the footsteps of the war in regions such
as Nord-Pas de Calais, Champagne-Ardenne, Picardy, Lorraine and Alsace.

Things to see