Ten-ton Trucks in the Tuileries

Here is an anecdote in my grandfather’s words from his chapter entitled, “Paris Monuments Officer.”  Over the last few days, I got to know the Tuileries and the Esplanade des Invalides through walking, biking and picnicing.

Every day thousands of men and women walk across the serene paths of the Tuileries Gardens – perhaps to catch a bus, to take the metro, to ride the trams to the banlieu, or to walk to their homes. Since the days of the last French kings these gardens have belonged to the public, and generations have relaxed here. They retain the same general aspect as Le Nôtre’s plans for Louis XIV (1664). The terraces, trees, fountains and sculpture offer serenity in the presence of beauty. No one who has strolled through these gardens which connect the Palace of the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde, or looked up the Champs-Elysées towards the Arc de Triomphe or the Eiffel Tower, can fail to feel the significance of this cherished park. Its gardens mean more in historic association and daily convenience to Parisians than do Hyde Park to Londoners and Central Park to New Yorkers. I protested vigorously when it was recommended that the Tuileries be made a bivouac area for the service troops for whom it was becoming increasingly difficult to find accomodations… I was determined that the Tuileries should not be subjected to slit-trench latrines and the other defacing necessities of an encampment… I made myself vociferous and decidedly unpopular in their defence.


Tuileries Gardens, 2014

An unsatisfactory compromise was reached without my knowledge: the Tuileries would be used as the official Allied motor park for all the jeeps and ten-ton trucks plying their way from the ports through Paris to the front. In a short time half a dozen historic statues were damaged by the heavy trucks, the terra cotta pipes sagged under the unaccustomed weight of these vehicles, and the old trees were injured. I suggested that the large open area of the Esplanade des Invalides be used instead of the Tuileries as the motor park. After many meetings with both American and French officials, at which we argued the case until I almost had to give in, it was fortunately agreed to use the Esplanade rather than the Tuileries as the motor park (J. Rorimer, 63).


Esplanade des Invalides, 2014