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Compiegne

Armistice in a Glade.

semi-overcast 26 °C

Back to Dover and the Ferry after a fleeting visit to UK, this time no thorough inspections of all the cavities in the van!!!! Obviously not a concern going in the opposite direction.
Landing on French soil we headed west to Compiegne on the Oise River again with a rich history. We checked out the Palace of Compiegne, which was built for the royal family prior to the Revolution in 1790 so its design is very grand, but it continued to be used by Napoleon and then Napoleon III so different parts of it reflect the design style of the different residents. It is much more elegant with its clean Roman lines than many of the other chateaus and palaces, which give it an air of solidity and authority. From Marie Antionette, Josephine, Marie-Louise and Napoleon III there was a variety of styles.
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One of the reasons that we had sought out Compiegne was because it was the site of the train carriage where the WW1 Armistice was signed on Nov 11th 1918. The setting is a peaceful glade in the Compiegne Forest, quite at odds with war raging all around. This carriage was destroyed in 1945 but there is a replica of the carriage set up just as it was at the time. During the 1920’s the French saw this as a significant event and turned the area into a memorial for the peace that was brokered there, encouraging visitors to see the carriage and the memorial to Ferdinand Foch, the French general who instigated the process.
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Come WW2 and the Nazi invasion of France in 1940 (remember Dunkirk a couple of blogs ago) Hitler was adamant that France would have to sign the surrender in the exact same carriage on the exact same spot. The carriage was pulled out of the building it had been placed in and dragged the couple of hundred metres to the precise spot that it had been in 1918. The seating was set up exactly opposite to the way it had been in 1918 and the French were forced to eat 'humble pie'. once the signing was complete Hitler ordered the destruction of the entire site, devastating the forest and other symbols that had been there. The only thing that was left intact was the statue of General Foch, high on his plinth where he could survey the devastation that had been wrought on his peace, and to seal his 'victory' Hitler had the carriage towed back to Berlin .
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We spent a couple of nights in the van in the carpark of the museum which lent it a slightly eerie feeling.

Posted by Seniorcitizens 18:36 Archived in France

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