Champ de Mars

pictures, photos, facts and information on Champ de Mars (Paris)


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The Fields of Mars (Champs de Mars) is large open public garden located between the Eiffel Tower to the northwest and the École Militaire to the southeast.

Originally it was a beautiful planted plain belonging to the two abbeys – St Germain des près and Ste Genevieve. When count d’Argenson acquired the place, he made it an appendix of the Military academy (still in construction). There is also where its name comes from – Mars was the Roman God of War. Firstly it was used to store the materials for the construction. This immense waste ground was changed by the knight of des Fosses, engineer of the king in 1765. He closed the ground with parallel earthworks on each sides with four lines of trees and dry spines hedges. Five iron grids and the same number of stone bridges isolated the ground from the public. The Field of Mars had become a strictly military place, a vast arena surrounded by earthworks which was very well adapted for military demonstrations.

Then Chams de Mars then became a place where most of the Paris gatherings took place. For example, on August 27, 1783 people came to see the first flight in the balloon of the brothers Charles and Robert Montgolfier despite the heavy rain.

After closing the Military academy by the council of the king, the fields of Mars lost its military evolutions. During the French revolution, the new leaders used this space for many different festivals which were used as support for the new regime. The first of them – the Festival of the Federation became the most significant one. It was organized on July 14, 1790 to symbolically mark the adhesion of the French people to the Revolution and the first French constitution. Many other festivals then took place here, but they disappeared when French monarchy returned to power and the place became a symbol of republic extremists.

In the 19th and the 20th century it became the place that welcomed the World Fairs (1867, 1878, 1889, 1900 and 1937), now without the earthworks. Many houses were successively built and then destroyed.

Today it is the favourite place for Parisians, as well as tourist from the entire world. Just to sit on the grass, rest or have picnic with the Eiffel Tower just above them.
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