The Charles de Gaulle memorial at Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises

Immerse yourself in the history of Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises and see first-hand the village Charles de Gaulle called home. A place where history comes to life, and where you can learn more about the intriguing past France has to offer. Visit the Charles de Gaulle memorial, which sits high atop the rolling countryside of the Champagne-Ardennes region. Here you can learn all about Charles de Gaulle, from his early life in Lille until his death in the house he retired to in 1969, in Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises.

The exhibition begins with Lille where the General was born, and takes you on an adventure through his life. Meet the man who led the Free French Forces during World War II and later founded the French Fifth Republic; but also discover his softer side as a father and family man. The exhibition also includes a reconstruction of a trench as well as the children’s room in his dear home La Boisserie. The main idea behind the exhibition is to allow the viewer to experience firsthand the story behind one of the most well-known men in French history. Opened in 2008 by the then French Prime-Minister Nicolas Sarkozy and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the exhibition uses some of the latest technologies, making it stand out as one of the most modern interactive museums in Europe.

The General’s family home La Boisserie is also open to visitors. Nestled amongst two and a half hectares of lush greenery, lies the beautiful stone estate which became the family home in 1934. One of the reasons for the move to La Boisserie was so that de Gaulle’s daughter Anne, who suffered from Downs Syndrome, could enjoy a quiet upbringing. She sadly died in 1948, aged only 20. It was here the General retired to in 1969 and set about writing his memoirs Mémoires de Guerre and later, Mémoires d’Espoir.

You cannot miss the Cross of Lorraine, which sits up high above Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises. It was erected to commemorate his landing at Courseulles-sur-mer in Normandy on 14 June 1944 as part of the D-Day landings; and has since been adopted as a symbol of the Free French, part of their original fight against the swastika during the war. A staggering 44 metres high, the Cross of Lorraine was inaugurated by President Georges Pompidou in 1972. De Gaulle was laid to rest in the graveyard of the village church, the modest gravestone surprisingly bare for someone who made such a difference to France’s history.

The moving exhibition provides insight to the life of the man whose actions are responsible for France the way we know it today. The French hold him in great reverence, and many consider him have been France’s greatest leader.

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