Armistice 2021: How will France mark November 11th this year?

French soldiers march towards the Arc de Triomphe to mark Armistice day - the end of WW1
French soldiers march towards the Arc de Triomphe to mark Armistice day - the end of WW1. This year, commemorations will resume as normal. (Photo by LIONEL BONAVENTURE / AFP)
France's Armistice Day commemorations were somewhat muted last year because of the pandemic. This time around the tributes to those who died in battle are back to normal. Here is what to expect.

What does November 11th mark?

November 11th is Armistice Day, remembering the day that the guns fell silent and the First World War ended. Now it is a day to commemorate the dead of all wars.

Is it a public holiday?

Yes, November 11th is a public holiday across France, so on Thursday schools, public administration offices and most businesses will close.

Supermarkets generally remain open and in large cities shops tend to open as well. 

(article continues below)

See also on The Local:

How will France mark the day?

Last year the lockdown meant that commemoration ceremonies were low key with limited numbers and a small military presence. 

But now that Covid-19 restrictions have been partially relaxed, things are going back to normal: expect a large military parade on the morning along the Champs-Elysées avenue in Paris, with Emmanuel Macron laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, underneath the Arc de Triomphe, just before the 11am one-minute silence.

The ceremony will be broadcast on French TV channels, TF1 and LCI, from 10.15am and there will be some road closures in the area. 

Wreath-laying ceremonies will take place in most towns and villages across France. A press officer for the presidency said that health passes will not be required to attend the commemoration in Paris. Most local authorities make no mention of the need for a health pass on their websites. 

A special tribute will also be paid to Hubert Germain, the last remaining Compagnon de la Liberation (those who were decorated for their role in the liberation of France from Nazi Germany during WWII), who died last month at the age of 101. 

Germain’s coffin will be transported from Les Invalides to the Arc de Triomphe in a tank escorted by a convoy of Republican Guards on horseback. Macron will make a speech in his honour shortly after the one-minute silence.

Germain’s corpse will then be transported to Mont Valérian in Hauts-de-Seine, an area just outside of Paris where members of the resistance were routinely executed by the Nazis during the war. A special burial service will take place at 2.30pm. 

The Musée de la Grande Guerre (Museum of the Great War) in Meaux, some 48km to the east of Paris and a 40 minute train journey from Gare de l’Est is opening its doors to the public for free from 9:30am. A spectacular audiovisual show, complete with fireworks, will take place in the museum gardens at 6pm. No reservations are required but visitors will need to show a valid health pass to enter the museum. 

Are the other ways to mark the day?

French people often wear a bleuet (cornflower) in their buttonhole as an act of remembrance and Macron has encouraged those who can to make a donation online to the bleuet appeal, which supports those injured in war or in acts of terrorism. You can donate here.


Member comments

Become a Member to leave a comment.Or login here.