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What you need to know about Paris' new WWII French Resistance museum

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What you need to know about Paris' new WWII French Resistance museum
General Leclerc during the liberation of Paris. Photo: AFP
12:32 CEST+02:00
As Paris marks 75 years since the liberation of the city, a new museum is opening which tells the fascinating stories of the incredibly brave men and women who risked their lives to join the Resistance.

What’s the story behind the museum?

Previously situated in a little-known space beside the Gare Montparnasse, the relocated and newly curated Musée de la Libération de Paris-Musée du Général Leclerc-Musée Jean Moulin now occupies a place of honour across from the Catacombs at the place Denfert-Rochereau in central Paris. 

The museum’s particularly long name pays homage to General Leclerc and Jean Moulin, two key leaders of French resistance forces whose stories are prominently featured in the museum.

READ ALSO 'I was just 19 when I cycled up to the German officer and put two bullets in his head'

French resistance leader Jean Moulin. Photo: AFP

This revamped space is the result of the combined efforts of Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo and the wife of Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, the leader of the Paris Resistance. During the war Cécile Rol-Tanguy worked tirelessly alongside her husband in the underground bunker that secretly served as a command post.

She celebrates both her 100th birthday and the inauguration of the museum’s prominent new space above the bunker this year. 

What are the exhibitions about?

The chronological permanent exhibition guides the visitor through the pre-war period, the occupation and the liberation of Paris through the figures of Jean Moulin - who lead Resistance efforts in France until his capture by the Germans and death in 1943 - and General Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque, who led the Free French forces overseas during the war, before taking part in the Liberation of Paris.

More than 300 artefacts from the period are on show, in addition to original documents, photographs, archived videos and testimonies about the resistance.

However, the museum’s most gripping historical attraction lies underground, 100 steps below to be precise.

It is sited in the bunker of Col Rol-Tanguy, the military command post where the colonel, his wife, and his staff hid out to orchestrate the liberation of Paris, and transports visitors back into an atmosphere of clandestine urgency. For an even more immersive experience, the museum offers a visit with mixed reality HoloLens smartglasses.

Part of the museum is situated in the secret hideout of Paris resistance leader Henri Rol-Tanguy. Photo: AFP

When does the museum open?

The museum’s grand opening takes place on Sunday, August 25th from 6.30pm to 10pm and is free to the public. Its regular opening hours are Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 6pm.

What do I need to know before visiting?

Admission to the permanent exhibition is free. Visits to the underground bunker (also free) must be reserved upon entering the museum, and mixed reality tours will be offered free of charge during the first month of the museum’s opening. Besides the permanent exhibition, there are also temporary exhibitions, which carry an extra charge. The first one is entitled 'Parisians during the 1940 exodus' and will open on February 27th, 2020.

Where is it?

The Musée de la Libération de Paris-Musée du Général Leclerc-Musée Jean Moulin is on Place Denfert-Rochereau, 4 Avenue du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy 75014 Paris.

For more details, call 01 40 64 39 44 or visit the museum's website.

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