A selection of France commemorations and important dates in 2019
30 years ago – 1989
- Georges Simenon died. Simenon was Belgian by birth but spent much of his life in France and his character Detective Maigret was much appreciated by French readers.
- Samuel Beckett died in Paris. Although Irish by birth Beckett wrote in both French and English. He was an avant-garde novelist, playwright, theatre director, poet, and literary translator who lived in Paris for most of his adult life.
- The Bastille Opera, Grand Arch of La Défense and the Louvre Pyramid were all inaugurated as part of the festivities marking the bicentenial of the French Revolution.
50 years ago – 1969
- The whole world watches as Apollo 11 lands on the moon
- Charles de Gaulle resigned after the defeat of his proposals for constitutional reform in a national referendum. Georges Pompidou was elected President of France.
75 years ago – 1945
- D-Day, the beginning of the end of WWII, started with the Allied invasion of occupied France on the beaches of Normandy. Plan your visit.
80 years ago – 1939
- The beginning of WWII. Was was declared 3 September 1939. Belgium and Holland were invaded 10 May 1940. The period in between was called the «drôle de guerre» in France as there was no actual fighting.
90 years ago – 1929
- The creation of Tintin. Though Hergé, Tintin’s creator, was Belgian Tintin himself was adopted by the French. Through his investigations, quick-thinking, and all-around good nature, Tintin is always able to solve the mystery. He really hasn’t aged a bit!
100 years ago – 1919
- The treaty ending WWI was signed in the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles. The harsh sanctions of the treaty against Germany and her allies laid the foundations for WWII which erupted just 20 years later. The treaty also established the Society of Nations, precursor of the United Nations. Starting in March the Chateau de Versailles will be adding videos of the signing of the treaty to their youtube channel. Rendez-vous:
- The painter Auguste Renoir died, he was 78.
- The first air route carrying passengers from Paris to London was opened.
- Joan of Arc was officially beatified.
- French pilot Charles Godefroy flies under the Arch of Triumph
130 years ago – 1889
- The opening of the Eiffel Tower
150 years ago – 1869
- The death of Hector Berlioz a French romantic composer.
200 years ago – 1819
- The birth of Jacques Offenbach. Offenbach was a French-German composer who wrote more than 100 operettas. He is best known for light pieces with risqué humour (often about sexual intrigue) and mostly gentle satiric barbs. This along with Offenbach’s facility for melody, made his operettas internationally known, and translated versions were successful in Vienna, London and elsewhere in Europe.
- Painter Gustave Courbet, who lead the realism movement, was born.
- Léon Foucault, Astronomer and physicist (Foucault’s Pendulum demonstrating the rotation of the Earth) was born. He also determined the speed of light and invented the gyroscope.
- The Raft of the Medusa was painted by Théodore Géricault. The painting’s notoriety stemmed from its indictment of a corrupt establishment, but it also dramatized a the eternal theme of man’s struggle with nature.
250 years ago – 1769
- The birth of Napoléon Bonaparte in Ajaccio (Corsica). The first emperor of the French who played a decisive role in the history of Europe.
300 years ago – 1719
- Madame de Maintenon died. She was the secret wife of Louis XIV after the death of Queen Maria-Theresa and exerted great influence on the king.
- The death of Saint Jean-Baptiste de La Salle. This French priest was a pioneer in education especially of poor children.
- The summer of death in Paris. 14,000 people died of the chicken pox and another 450,000 died of dysentery caused by a drought.
400 years ago – 1619
- Jean-Baptiste Colbert was born. Colbert was one of the pincipal ministers and controler of finances under Louis XIV.
- Charles Le Brun was born. Le Brun was the premier painter of Louis XIV
500 years ago – 1519
- Leonardo da Vinci died at the court of François the First in the Clos Lucé in the city of Amboise France. Born in Tuscany da Vinci was painter , scientist, engineer, inventer, musician writer and philosopher.
- Catherine De Médicis was born. Queen of France by marriage to King Henry II and mother of kings Francis II, Charles IX and Henry III, Catherine had extensive and varying influence in the political life of France during the wars of religion.
700 years ago – 1319
- The founding of the city of Boulogne-Billancourt. The city was founded by Philippe-le-Bel with the building of the church Notre-Dame de Boulogne. The king’s desire was to replicate the church of Boulogne-sur-Mer home to a miraculous Virgin statue and a pilgrimage site closer to Paris. The new town was initially named Boulogne-sur-Seine.