This is the memorial to the French who were deported during World War II. It's a good idea to read the plaque before you enter so you understand the symbolism.
After reading the plaque, you go down the stairs until you are nearly at water level of the Seine and you are inside the memorial that was designed to give you the feeling of being closed in that the deportees must have felt.
There is a room inside that has a small light for each deportee who did not return. It is a stark reminder to see all the little lights shining down the long hallway. It really gives you a feeling for what was lost.
You have to decide to visit this moving memorial as it is rather well-hidden behind Notre Dame. It was designed by the architect, Pingusson, in 1962 in memory of the 200,000 Jews who were deported from France during the Nazi horror.
It is normally open 10-12am and 2-5pm with extended hours in the summer.
THE MOMORIAL TO THE MARTYRS IS A MONUMENT TO THE 160.000 RESIDENTS OF FRANCE WHO WHERE DEPORTATED TO NAZI CONCENTRATION CAMPS IN WW2. SOME 76.000 OF THESE WHERE JEWS. THE MEMORIAL IS SITUATED AT THE SOUTHERN TIP OF LA CITE AND WITH THE WIND GUSTING IT GIVES THE FEELING OF A VERY SAD PLACE...BUT A PLACE YOU SHOULD SEE. THERE IS A GUARD ON DUTY AND HE WILL ONLY LET A FEW PEOPLE DOWN TO LOOK AROUND AT ANY ONE TIME..NB WHEN SOMEONE LEAVES THEN YOU GET TO GO IN.
PERSONALY I LIKE THIS IDEA AS THE PLACE NEVER GETS CROWDED.
THE MOST PROMINENT FEATURE IS THAT OF THE UNKNOWN DEPORTEE,THIS IS SET DOWN A LONG TUNNEL AND LIT UP BY THOUSANDS OF LITTLE LIGHTS.
ENTRANCE IS FREE.
OPENING TIMES ARE 10AM-MIDDAY..2PM-5PM . OPEN TO 7PM IN SUMMER MONTHS.
The Memorial is a below-ground cavern, down stairs past a gravel ground space across the road from the Square John XXIII behind the apse of Notre Dame (less than 4 minutes from its West Facade). It occupies the very east tip of the Ile de la Cite. Emphasizing this seclusion is the pseudo-courtyard as you enter below, with its low window in the wall beyond a spike barrier. This window can be seen from the outside from the water or from the Ile St. Louis and looks like a gun emplacement.(You are locked in!). There is a central bronze disc with a light incribed to the"unknown deportee", and nearby a narrow hall which you cannot enter. But you can peer in and see the walls covered with over 200,000 tiny lights (the deported ones who died). On the carefully shaped walls are inscribed somber statements about the horrible deed that this memorializes. (There are nicer descriptions of the Memorial in VT on pg.4 under Off the Beaten Path).
At the eastside of the Ile de la Cité, close to the Ile St-Louis, there is an impressive memorial for the victims of the World War II. During that dark period 200.000 Frenchmen who were transported to the Nazi-camps in the east, were killed.
At the very end of the island, this monument has a small square that is accessible through narrow stairs down. Here you should get the feeling that all the victims had: surrounded by high walls and bars. Inside the crypt you will see lots of texts that honour the dead and that emphasize the hope.
The centre of the monument is a tunnel that is decorated by 200.000 little pieces of glass, sparkling brightly in the light. One piece of glass for one victim.
There is a guard at the entrance of the monument, checking for professional camera's or "bad things". There is no entrance fee though.
This memorial reminds the peoples of Paris and the world of the 200,000 individuals deported from France during the 2nd world war by the German Army. Of the 200,000 deportees I understand that around 30,000 were from Paris.
They came from all different walks of life though the vast majority of deportees being Jews. Their destination was concentration camps and, in many cases, gas.
The point is located on the other side of the bridge from Notre Dame and is a fairly stark monument provoking many emotions. That this sort of thing could be carried out by our 'enlightened' species is a testimony to the continuing stupidity still being seen around the world today.
It is weird after visiting Notre Dame and the Louvre with their beauty to visit the deportation point - a monument of significance for all the wrong reasons. It's open most days but not between 12 & 2pm.
Behind the cathedral of Notre Dame, on the eastern end of the Ile de la Cite is the Memorial de la Deportation, a memorial to the 200,000 French Jews deported from Paris to the Nazi concentration camps during WWII. Inside you'll find a long hallway with 200,000 lights representing each person that was taken away. It's a very somber feeling to visit this concrete walled place and the message is that this should never happen again: Forgive but never forget.
Open from 10am 'til dark (5-7pm depending upon the time of year).
Photo: March 2001
This memorial is dedicated to the many thousands who were deported from France to concentration camps in Germany during WWII. The entrance to the memorial, with its stark white cement walls, is kind of like a crypt. There are quotations carves into the walls, in a script that seems to suggest pain and suffering (I think you'd agree if you saw it). The little lights in the photo represent the deportees who died in the Nazi camps.
Paris is a very light-hearted city that's full of fun and life including its sights. But this one particular sight is very moving and touching at the same time.
It is a memorial to the 200,000 people, primarily Jewish, who were deported to concentration camps from France by the Nazis. There were 30,000 people deported from Paris alone.
What is unique and even more moving about the memorial is that you have to descend some stairs to see it. When you descend on one side you will see the Seine through a space that has bars and on the other side there is another entrance that is barred as well. This entrance is just a tunnel with pebbles.
The feeling that you get is of isolation and despair, sort of what it is to be trapped.
Thus, the message that the memorial conveys will be felt immediately and you can identify with the victims.
Upon ascending the stairs from the memorial you will go back to the life and buzz of Paris and you will shake the suffocation that overcame you below. And then you really start thinking about the people who could not do that: ascend to freedom.
This little jewel is too often missed, but I am compelled to visit it during each of my tours to France! Everyone is enthralled!