Found on the edge of the Champagne region, bordering Burgundy and Lorraine, Colombey, today a village of fewer than700 souls, has long been a halt on the route from Paris to Basle. But in recent times it rose to fame through its most illustrious citizen, Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle, the 18th President of France, who lived in the village at La Boisserie from 1934 until his death in 1970.
De Gaulle is buried in the cemetery in Colombey, in a humble grave with the inscription "Charles de Gaulle 1890-1970". In addition, a 145ft (44.3 m) high Cross of Lorraine was built at the western exit of the village, commemorating his distinguished wartime role as commander of the Free French Forces.
A memorial museum was inaugurated in October 2008 by Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel. This joint Franco-German act marked the 50th anniversary of talks in Colombey on 14 September 1958 between Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer, as part of the process of post-war reconciliation.
In his Memoirs, De Gaulle lovingly described this Champagne region: “steeped in sadness and melancholy… former mountains drastically eroded and resigned… quiet, modest villages whose soul and location has not changed for thousands of years...”.
In Mémoires de guerre, he wrote: Silence fills my house. From the corner room where I spend most of the day, I embrace the horizon towards the setting sun. No house can be seen over a distance of 15 kilometres. Beyond the plain and the woods, I can see the long curves sloping down towards the Aube valley and the heights rising on the other side. From a high point in the garden, I behold the wild forested depths. I watch the night enveloping the landscape and then, looking at the stars, I clearly realise the insignificance of things.
72 r. du Gén.-de-Gaulle. 52330 Colombey-les-Eglises.
Tel: 03 25 01 52 33.