By Heather Stimmler-Hall
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Additional resources for Aventure guide Paris & Ile-de-France
Allied forces expected to see a devastated city when they arrived in Paris, but General von Choltitz couldn’t bring himself to follow Hitler’s orders to level the city (explosives had even been put into place), and surrendered himself and the remaining German forces to General Leclerc on August 24, 1944. Two days later de Gaulle entered Paris amid a wildly cheering crowd on the Champs-Elysées. DID YOU KNOW? When the Allies landed in Normandy they were planning on heading straight to Berlin, preferring to avoid a long street battle to liberate Paris.
In 1954 only 10% of French homes had a bath or shower, and only 27% had flushing toilets. Charles de Gaulle came out of retirement to head the Fifth Republic, and launched an emergency building plan. Over the next two decades old buildings in the inner suburbs and outer arrondissements such as the 13th, the 19th and the 20th, were razed to make way for residential towers. Plans for a modern business district in La Défense were announced, and new buildings for UNESCO and Radio France were completed.
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