Statue of Napoleon after the toppling of the Vendôme column in Paris on May 16, 1871 © Musée de l’Armée/Pascal Segrette

A pause to learn, reflect and pay homage to those who made the ultimate sacrifice

France-Germany, 1870-1871

A conflict overshadowed by the two World Wars, the Franco-Prussian war remains an obscure topic to an international audience, and even to the younger generations of the nations directly involved. And yet, this ‘horrible year’, as described by Victor Hugo, led to the outbreak of civil war and constituted a tectonic shift in world affairs around which the future of Europe would be built. The Musée de l’Armée in Paris presents the conflict within a longer chronological context to better grasp its origins and consequences.

Until July 30. Website:

Portrait of Edouard Elias, war photographer © Alizé Le Maoult

War Photographers: What Drives Them?

The public has seen their astonishing photos, but rarely get to see their faces. They are first-hand witnesses to the worst of humanity, and brief glimpses of hope amid destruction, and push forward to those places where everyone else is running away from. The recently renovated Verdun Memorial in northeastern France hosts an exploration of the work and ethos of war photographers, from the Crimean war to the present day. Are they merely silent witnesses? Can they truly remain detached from the struggle?

Until October 1. Website:

“Of Earth and Steel” at the Museum of the Great War ©Musée de la Grande Guerre

 Of Earth and Steel

War archaeologists and historians present over 300 objects recovered in archeological digs of the battlefields of the World War I. Each item had lain undisturbed for decades, preserved by the soil. The visit pushes the viewer into direct contact with each display, with no filter, no distance, and no attempt at beautification. The viewer can’t help but engage directly with the story that each object carries within, from the rough edges of a pieces of shrapnel to the peculiar contents of a personal souvenir box.

Until September 18. Website:

From France Today magazine