Circuit Vichy 1939 1945

In 1940, Vichy, the dazzling Queen of the water cities, became the setting for the play entitled “The French State, 1940/44 period”.
Without wanting it, Vichy entered the history of France, the history of the world, the history of everything!

Contents

1. The Park Hotel

In 1940, this luxury hotel was requisitioned for the benefit of the routed French General Staff. It was then placed at the disposal of the government, now headed by Philippe Pétain. Despite the narrowness of the premises, the hotel housed, among other things, the office of Marshal Pétain, the office of the Head of Government (Pierre Laval), as well as the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Interior and Information.


2. Berthéas Art Gallery Les Tournesols

In postwar France, the memory of the Resistance crystallized around a belief that, as early as 1940, participation in the Resistance would have been systematically motivated by a desire to fight not only the Germans, but also the French state. However, many Resistance fighters shared Marshallian values. Their objective was above all to prepare the ground so that the French leaders could resume the fight when they had the opportunity. These Resistance fighters are commonly called “Vichysto-Resistance fighters”. This movement was born in the heart of the ministries.


3. The Great
Thermal establishment

During the Second World War, despite the sudden halt in spa tourism, the government agreed to establish a system of residence permits for a period of more than 5 days between June 1 and September 30. But the conditions are difficult. The curists complain about the presence of ” too many profiteers around the ministries ; too many people in the cinemas, too many ” zazous ” in the streets, too many police everywhere “. The Vichyssois have the fed up and wait no more than the departure of the civil servants who harm the thermal economy.

Practical information

Address

Avenue du Général Dwight Eisenhower, Vichy

Opening hours

  • Monday
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4. Hotel du Portugal area

The first Germans moved into Vichy as early as 1940 to establish “relations” with the government. By November 1942, Gestapo members were literally everywhere. In Vichy, they requisitioned 25 buildings on Boulevard des Etats-Unis, including the Hotel du Portugal. It was here that the Gestapo interrogated and tortured those they had arrested. After the war, the hotel was used by the Liberation Committee as an internment camp. Part of the hotel was transformed into a hospital camp for about 30 prisoners. Another section of the hotel is reserved for the internment of prisoners.


5. The bender

The Imperial Chalet, now known as the “Villa Marie-Louise”, is one of the chalets that Napoleon III had built in 1863. In 1928, the Société de l’hôtel des Lilas transformed it into a bar: the Cintra. During the Second World War, the bar became the meeting place for all the high society of Vichy. Business affairs, political affairs, love affairs… throughout the war, the Cintra was the scene of a life both teeming and troubled. Henry Vuitton was a frequent visitor to the Cintra. One day, he met Robert Lallement, who had just created the Marshal’s art department, whose main mission was the production of objects bearing the effigy of Marshal Pétain. H.Vuitton offers his services. Lallement accepted.

Practical information

Address

109 boulevard des Etats Unis, Vichy

Opening hours

  • Monday
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6. Villa Ica

In 1940, 40 states were represented in Vichy. The American ambassador, Admiral William Leahy, arrived in Vichy on January 5, 1941, and took up residence in the Villa Ica. In April 1942, the return to power of Pierre Laval marked a turning point in Franco-American relations. Leahy was recalled to the United States and relations between France and the United States ceased completely. The Swiss delegation, with Ambassador Walter Stucki, took possession of the premises. Stucki was very active in Vichy and his diplomatic skills were well known. At the time of the Liberation of Vichy, he was the intermediary between the Resistance fighters, the Germans and the Vichy municipality. Thanks to him, the liberation of Vichy was achieved without bloodshed. The FFi entered the city on August 26 without having to fight.

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7. The Opera of Vichy

On July 10, 1940, the magnificent hall of the Vichy Opera House hosted the National Assembly for an extraordinary session. The National Assembly gave full powers to the Government of the Republic, under the authority of Marshal Pétain, to promulgate a new constitution for the French state. Of the 670 parliamentarians present, 570 voted in favor, 80 voted against. The others abstained. The next day, Pétain overstepped his mandate and took over the full legislative and executive powers, as well as part of the powers of justice. The republic was liquidated in favor of an authoritarian regime: the “French State”. On July 10, 1988, a plaque commemorating the 80 parliamentarians who voted against the promulgation of a new constitution under the authority of Marshal Pétain was affixed to a wall of the opera house.

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Practical information

Address

1 rue du Casino, Vichy

8. Monument to the dead

Roger Kespy

Roger Kespy was born into a Jewish family in Algiers. He moved to Vichy in 1935 to 25 rue Durand. He is a radio set builder. Kespy joined the Resistance in 1940. He made portable radios and recovered abandoned weapons. In 1942 he organized and led a maquis in the Bois Noirs. In 1943, his maquis was integrated into the MUR. He was arrested by the militia on January 24, 1944 and handed over to the Germans. After 70 days in the hands of the Vichy Gestapo, he was transferred to the prison of Moulins. Both a Jew and a Resistance fighter, the guards did not spare him any suffering. Roger Kespy will be executed on July 25, 1944, in the forest of Marcenat.


9. The Hotel of Seville

Among the “vichysto-resistance fighters,” many worked within vichyst institutions, such as the French Legion of Fighters, created in August 1940 and headquartered at the Hotel de Séville. Its members were the most loyal supporters of the Marshal and the national revolution. This was notably the case of François Mitterrand who worked here in 1942. After a few months at the Hotel de Séville, he was hired by the Commissariat for the reclassification of repatriated prisoners of war. In 1943, he was awarded the Francisque. That same year, Mitterrand founded a “prisoner” resistance movement, which joined the Army Resistance Organization. At the end of 1943, Mitterrand, wanted by Gestapo, left Vichy for good.


10. The Sevigne Pavilion

From July 1940, the hotel was requisitioned. It is President Albert Lebrun who occupies it. It is then put at the private disposal of Marshal Pétain. However, Marshal Pétain would only reside there on rare occasions. Nevertheless, the Council of Ministers and official receptions were held there regularly. Despite the requisition of their pavilion, the owners, Elisabeth François and her brother, were allowed to keep a few rooms. They established the headquarters of the Eclaireurs de France, of which they were a part, in these few rooms put to their use. Until the end of the war, and in spite of the regular presence of Pétain, the scouts acted in favor of the Jews and the STO refractory, whom they helped to flee or to hide. In 2010, the Yad Vashem Institute awarded Elisabeth François and her husband, Pierre François, the title of “Righteous Among the Nations.”


11. The Celestins Hotel

During the war, the Hôtel des Célestins was occupied by the Ministry of the Interior, which played a leading role in Vichy policy, particularly in the area of repression. On April 23, 1941, the police departments of cities with more than 10,000 inhabitants came under the authority of a Secretary General of Police at the Ministry of the Interior. Direction générale de la police nationale (General Directorate of the National Police) brought together the judicial police, general intelligence and public security with other services and sub-services such as the anti-communist police, the police for Jewish issues and the secret societies service.

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Practical information

Address

111 boulevard des États-Unis, Vichy

Prices

Double room159€
Twin room159€
Suite329€
Breakfast28€
Supplementary payment for pets17€

Opening hours

  • Monday
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12. The synagogue

In the spring of 1940, several hundred thousand men and women, including many Jews, found themselves on the roads. A number of them stopped in Vichy. More than 220 families were affiliated with the Vichy synagogue. Following the vote of July 10, 1940, disillusionment was rapid. More than 3000 foreign Jews were expelled from the city between August and October 1940. A few months later, French Jews were also hunted down and expelled. Overnight, these Jews lost their homes, their jobs and their support networks (of friends and neighbors). Isolated and vulnerable, they became easy prey for the Milice and the Gestapo. However, several Jewish refugees in Vichy were able to be saved thanks to the help of the local population.


13. Le Petit Casino

In 1943, the small Casino was requisitioned by the French Militia, a repressive body set up in January 1943 by Pierre Laval. All over France, it reigns terror. The Petit Casino became the antechamber of death for many resistance fighters in the Vichy region. The practice of torture was frequent. In Vichy, the Militia also occupied the Hotel Moderne and the Hotel Métropole (where it had set up its offices), as well as the Château des Brosses. In 1961, the small Casino was transformed into a cultural center.

Practical information

Address

15 rue du Maréchal Foch, Vichy

Opening hours

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14. The Saint-Louis church

During the Second World War, the Saint-Louis church occupied an important place for the government. Large masses were held there in the presence of Marshal Pétain. While the Catholic community as a whole was in favor of the changes advocated by the new regime, several of its members, among them the Reverend Father Dillard, who officiated at Saint-Louis Church, opposed the radicalization of measures. As early as 1942, he gave sermons in which he criticized, in subtle and roundabout ways, the anti-Semitic measures and the government’s policies. In 1943, he left for Germany to organize a clandestine chaplaincy. After several months in Germany, he was denounced and arrested by the Gestapo. He was deported to Dachau, where he died in 1945.


15. The Algeria Hotel

In March 1941, at the request of the Germans, the French created a General Commissariat for Jewish Questions. The Algeria Hotel was designated to become its headquarters. On June 2, 1941, the CGQJ adopted a second Statute of the Jews, which lengthened the list of prohibitions and provided for a census in the non-occupied zone. The nominative files created from the CGQJ’s information will allow the implementation of the roundups in 1942 and will facilitate the deportations of the Jews of France to the Nazi camps.

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16. The crib

During the entire war, the Vichy charity office proved to be of crucial use. It acted on many fronts: management of refugees, supplies, health, etc. In 1942, the crèche welcomed an average of 14.5 children per day and carried out a total of 1,212 infant consultations. In 1942, the Goutte de lait de Vichy, an organization intended to fight against child mortality, distributed approximately 300,000 bottles to 350 children, 10% of which were free. The work of the early childhood services was greatly rewarded. Thanks to them, a large proportion of the children in the Vichy agglomeration are kept in good health.


17. The rationing service

Early in the summer of 1940, Germany stripped France of much of its resources. A widespread rationing system went into effect in September 1940. Food cards were distributed to all French people. For many, the search for food became a constant obsession. However, the situation in Vichy was not nearly as desperate as in many other cities. As the provisional capital of France, Vichy was the mirror image of the regime. The government therefore had to avoid popular unrest at all costs. The authorities will do their utmost to solve the supply problems as quickly as possible and maintain a “correct” standard of living.


18. The city hall

When in 1940, Pétain arrived in Vichy, it was Pierre-Victor Léger (radical-socialist) who was at the head of the city hall. He will remain so until the Liberation of Vichy. On the one hand, several documents attest to Léger’s support for the French state. On the other hand, several witnesses affirm that Léger’s support was only “strategic”, and that the mayor helped the Resistance clandestinely. Whatever the mayor’s “real” position vis-à-vis the French state, Pétain never agreed to remove him.

Practical information

Address

Place de l'Hôtel de ville, Vichy

Opening hours

  • Monday 08:30 - 12:30 / 13:30 - 17:00
  • Tuesday 08:30 - 12:30 / 13:30 - 17:00
  • Wednesday 08:30 - 12:30 / 13:30 - 17:00
  • Thursday 08:30 - 12:30 / 13:30 - 17:00
  • Friday 08:30 - 12:30 / 13:30 - 17:00
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19. Carnot School

Today Sevigne Lafaye School

At Vichy, it was at the Carnot school that the census of the Jews was organized. 2050 Jews took the census. The methods used by the government are effective, since in 1043, there are only 650 Juis left in Vichy. In 1941, Fernand Lafaye was a teacher at the Carnot school. Disagreeing with the policies of the French government, he left the national education system. He joined the Resistance. Lafaye helped transport weapons and established contacts between several Resistance groups. He died in an ambush in 1944. That same year, the Carnot school was renamed “Fernand Lafaye School.”


20. Apartment of René Chabrier and Yvette Poucy

The Marco-Polo network was one of 266 intelligence networks that operated in France. It was created in November 1942 by Commander Pierre Sonneville. In Vichy, its members could count on the unfailing help of several individuals, including police commissioner Marc Juge, Mme Chabrol, Henri and Yvonne Moreau, as well as René Chabrier and his companion Yvette Poucy. One of their missions was to identify the civil servants or employees of the administrations most likely to harm the resistance. On February 23, 1944, the couple was arrested by the Gestapo. Yvette Poucy was transferred to Fort de Romanville, René Chabrier was shot on March 25, 1944.


21. The German recruitment office

The economic exploitation of France began in 1940. The Germans imposed that a large part of the agricultural and industrial production be put at their disposal. The occupier also encouraged French workers to go to work in Germany. Recruitment offices were opened in several cities. In April 1942, Pierre Laval set up a “Relève” system. In exchange for three volunteer workers, a French prisoner of war was released. Until the end of the war, French people would continue to go to work in Germany of their own free will.


22. Residence of Alphonse & Hélène Juge

When France signs the armistice in June 1940, Fred Scamaroni, former chief of staff of the Doubs prefect, decides to continue the fight. Barely sent on a mission to Dakar, he gets arrested. Freed in December 1940, he went to Vichy, where he found a job as a clerk at the Ministry of Supply. At the same time, he founded the “Copernic” network. He became friends with the Juge couple, who offered him room and board. Alphonse Juge was the director of personnel at the Ministry of Information. Thanks to them, Scamaroni organized a meeting of the utmost importance, with delegates from “Combat” and “Liberté”. Scamaroni was arrested in Corsica in 1943. Terribly tortured, he commits suicide in order not to reveal anything.


23. The four paths

23. Les quatre chemins, 35 Lucas Street: The Four Paths Shopping Center was built in 2002 on the former site of the Armed Forces Thermal Hospital. Opened in 1847, the hospital’s main mission was to treat soldiers who had fallen ill in the colonies. When the Second World War broke out, the hospital was still functional. It would welcome French soldiers until the end of the conflict. When the city was liberated on August 26, 1944, the surrounding streets became a place of celebration. “The jubilation was immense. The balconies and windows were decorated with tricolor and allied flags, and processions of young people spread through the streets singing the Marseillaise…”. The military hospital will close its doors permanently in 1990.

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