Armistice Day, also known as Remembrance Day, or Veteran’s Day, is observed annually on November 11. Traditionally, the day marks the end of the First World War (1914-1918), and pays homage to the millions of soldiers and civilians who lost their lives during the conflict. In this article, we will explore the origins of the day and where to commemorate Armistice Day in Paris.
The Armistice came into effect on the ‘eleventh month, the eleventh day, and the eleventh hour. All hostilities ended in 1918. The ceasefire was signed inside a train car in Compiègne (France), at 5:45 a.m. that morning. Though the fighting had stopped, the war wasn’t officially over until the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, June 28, 1919.
In France, Armistice Day was commemorated for the first time on November 11, 1920. To mark the solemn occasion, an unknown solider was interred at the base of the Arc de Triomphe (Paris, France) and given a full military honours. An eternal flame of remembrance was placed above his tomb three years later. Every year, the Armistice Day ceremony takes place near his grave.
In 1922, Armistice Day was made a statutory holiday in France. To honour the fallen at 11 a.m. on November 11, every French city has a military gun salute, and wreathes are placed at WW I memorial statues, or graves. Also, there is a bugle call “for the dead”. A moment of silence is not observed, unlike other parts of the world. In 2012, the French Republic decreed that all those who “died for France” will also be honoured on Armistice Day.
If the Arc de Triomphe isn’t for you, the best option would be to attend a ceremony at one of Paris’ cemeteries. (Link here.) Naturally, please arrive well before 11 a.m. Also important to note, many businesses are closed on November 11. It is always a good idea to call in advance, or check online before making plans on Armistice Day in France.