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Stage town for the first time.

Town in Haute-Marne (52)

Population: 750 (Colombiens)

Specialities: champagne, andouilles, Haute-Marne specialities, Langres cheese. Champagne fondue. Caisses de Wassy (meringues).

Personalities: Charles de Gaulle, De Gaulle family.

Sport: Colombey FC (football).

Economy: agriculture (livestock, winegrowing), commerce.  

Heritage: Charles de Gaulle Memorial, Croix de Lorraine, La Boisserie. Clarivaux Abbey. Castle of Cirey-sur-Blaise.

Festivals: Sound and light show at the Charles de Gaulle Memorial

Websites: www.memorial-charlesdegaulle.fr / www.colombey-les-deux-eglises.com / www.haute-marne.fr


COLOMBEY-LES-DEUX-ÉGLISES AND CYCLING

On 16 July 1960, during the Besançon-Troyes stage on the eve of the finish in Paris, the race was neutralised for a few minutes to pay tribute to General de Gaulle, the illustrious resident of Colombey-les-Deux-Eglises (and incidentally, at the time, President of the French Republic), who had come to the roadside as a spectator with his wife Yvonne. General de Gaulle thanked Jacques Goddet, then director of the Tour, for this tribute stop, and came to shake hands with Gastone Nencini, wearer of the Yellow Jersey and future winner, Henry Anglade, the French champion, and Antonin Rolland. The story goes that Pierre Beuffeuil, who had been delayed for a while and was able to catch up with the peloton thanks to this impromptu stop, then went on the attack and won the stage solo in Troyes. Since 2020, the Paris-Troyes race, which celebrated its 120th anniversary in 2023, has started in Colombey.


SIGHTS:

  • Charles-de-Gaulle Memorial

Construction: 2006 to 2008.

History: tracing the great historical events of the 20th century through the person of Charles de Gaulle (1890-1970), it was built by the Charles-de-Gaulle Foundation and the Haute-Marne General Council at a cost of 22 million euros. It replaces the memorial to General de Gaulle inaugurated on 18 June 1972, which until then housed a small exhibition and provided access to the monumental Cross of Lorraine. Officially launched by French President Jacques Chirac on 9 November 2006, the Charles-de-Gaulle Memorial and its temporary exhibition De Gaulle-Adenauer: a Franco-German reconciliation were inaugurated on 11 October 2008 by Nicolas Sarkozy and Chancellor Angela Merkel, just fifty years after the historic meeting at La Boisserie between the General and Chancellor Konrad Adenauer.

Special feature: the monument receives around 100,000 visitors a year.  

  • Cross of Lorraine

Built in 1972.

History and characteristics: following the death of General de Gaulle on November 9, 1970, a national committee under the patronage of President Georges Pompidou was set up in March 1971 to erect a monument at Colombey to symbolise Free France. It launched a national fund-raising campaign that attracted several million donations. The appeal, which was relayed by French missions abroad, was a great international success, with funds coming in from more than 67 countries, raising a total of 5.5 million francs. This sum was not only used to erect a monument, but also to acquire 35 hectares of land around it, on which 1,000 cedar trees donated by Lebanon were planted. The project by architects Marc Nebinger and Michel Mosser was chosen: a Lorraine cross in pre-stressed reinforced concrete, 44.30-metres high and weighing 950 tonnes without foundations, faced in pink granite from Perros-Guirec and clad with bronze surfaces 10-mm thick and 1.68-metres long, weighing a total of 16 tonnes, from a foundry in Alsace. Nearly 350 journeymen worked on the monument. It was inaugurated by President Georges Pompidou on 18 June 1972, the thirty-second anniversary of the Appeal of June 18.  

  • La Boisserie

Built: 1810

History: in 1934, General de Gaulle and his wife Yvonne bought the "La Brasserie" estate, which was in fact the old village brewery (founded in 1843), renamed "La Boisserie". This fourteen-room manor house, covered in Virginia creeper and surrounded by a vast 2.5-hectare plot, comprises a ground floor with three rooms and a single storey with six bedrooms, plus an adjoining pavilion. It can be seen from the village with its hexagonal tower topped with old local tiles, which de Gaulle had built after the war. It was here that he set up his study, from where he could look out over the vast, wild landscape. The General liked to come and rest in what he considered to be his true and only home. He took refuge there to make important decisions, in peace and solitude. A large number of VIPs were received at La Boisserie. Among them, on September 14 and 15, 1958, German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer (who was the only head of state or government to spend the night at La Boisserie) to begin the process of Franco-German reconciliation. After his resignation as President of the Republic in April 1969, De Gaulle began writing his Mémoires d'espoir (Memoirs of Hope) at La Boisserie. He died there on the evening of November 9, 1970 of a ruptured aneurysm, aged almost eighty. Since then, the estate has belonged to his son, Admiral Philippe de Gaulle, who died recently.

Current purpose: museum open to the public.

Listed as: Historical Monument since 2004.  

  • Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption church

Construction: 12th century.

Style: Romanesque. 

Characteristics: small Romanesque church with a listed bay and circular sanctuary.

Listed as: Historical Monument in 1923.  

  • Charles de Gaulle

Born on November 22 1890 in Lille (Nord) and died on November 9,1970, in Colombey-les-Deux-Églises (Haute-Marne). Brought up in a culture of national greatness, Charles de Gaulle chose a career as an officer in the army. During the First World War, he was wounded and taken prisoner. In May 1940, as a colonel, he was placed at the head of an armoured division and led several counterattacks during the Battle of France; he was subsequently promoted to brigadier general on a temporary basis. During the exodus that followed, he was Under-Secretary of State for War and National Defence in the Paul Reynaud government. Rejecting the armistice requested by Pétain from Nazi Germany, he launched the “Appeal of 18 June” on the BBC in London, urging the French people to resist and join the Free French Forces. Sentenced to death in absentia and stripped of his French nationality by the Vichy regime, he wanted to embody France's legitimacy and be recognised as a power by the Allies. He had cold relations with Franklin Roosevelt but enjoyed the support of Winston Churchill. He led the country from the Liberation onwards. Favouring a strong executive, he opposed parliamentary plans and, refusing to follow the majority elected to the National Assembly, resigned in 1946. The following year, he founded the Rassemblement du peuple français (RPF), but his refusal to compromise excluded him from any national responsibility. He returned to power after the crisis of May 1958, in the context of the Algerian war. Granted full powers during Operation Resurrection, he had the Fifth Republic approved in a referendum. Elected President of the Republic by an enlarged college of electors, he advocated a "policy of greatness" for France. He strengthened the institutions and the currency (the new franc) and gave a third way economic role to a State that planned and modernised industry. He renounced French Algeria in stages, despite the opposition of the “pieds-noirs” and the military, who had favoured his return. He continued with the decolonisation of sub-Saharan Africa and maintained French influence there. In a break with European federalism and the Yalta division, de Gaulle defended "national independence" and advocated a "Europe of nations" that would extend "from the Atlantic to the Urals", created the French nuclear deterrent force, withdrew France from NATO's military command, vetoed the United Kingdom's entry into the European Economic Community, supported "free Quebec", condemned the Vietnam War and recognised Communist China. His vision of power - a leader directly approved by the nation - put him at odds with the Communist, Socialist and centrist pro-European parties. These parties criticised a "permanent coup d'état", as François Mitterrand put it, against which de Gaulle was re-elected in 1965 by direct universal suffrage. He overcame the May 68 crisis after appearing to withdraw, calling legislative elections that sent an overwhelming Gaullist majority to the National Assembly. But in 1969, he committed his term of office to a referendum (on Senate reform and regionalisation) and resigned after the "no" vote. He retired to his estate in Colombey-les-Deux-Églises, where he died eighteen months later.


DRINK: 

  • Champagne

Colombey-les-deux-Églises is close to the champagne-growing area and there are a number of specialist winegrowers in the vicinity, including Champagne A. Viot et Fils, which is 10 km from the village, and Champagne de Barfontarc, which is 15 km away.  

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