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70th anniversary of the Normandy Landings

Publié le June 11, 2014
Speech by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic, at the official dinner (excerpts)
Bénouville, June 6, 2014

Your Majesties,

Heads of state and government,

I welcome you here, to the Château de Bénouville, on France’s behalf, on the occasion of the ceremonies for the 70th anniversary of the Normandy Landings. This château was created, dreamed up, built by Claude-Nicolas Ledoux, an inventive architect, who also wanted to make it a symbol of Utopia. I am not sure he managed it, but at any rate his dream was to build a sort of ideal city.

This happens to be a historic place, because during the war it was a maternity hospital, and its female director, Léa Vion, was in the Resistance. This nursery operated throughout the war. (…) And during those years, Mme Vion took in refugees and Resistance fighters. Here, in this château, she stored weapons, ammunition and explosives. And when the Landings happened, she was able to help the first soldiers, particularly British ones, who had just landed at Pegasus Bridge.

During her time in the Resistance, Mme Vion was called "The Countess". And after the war this countess became the first female mayor of this commune, which was very rare at the time. She died in 1972, having received the military Légion d’Honneur. So I wanted this place to evoke history, the memory of the soldiers and also the battle waged by women.

I am also happy to be able to host for you a lunch, prepared by acclaimed Norman chef-restaurateurs who were keen to do the event justice

Thank you, everyone./.

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