Just yards from the beautiful pristine luxury yachts and Fort Carré in Antibes exists the little known yet tallest War Memorial in France - Le Poilu.
The monument, measuring 22 metres in height, is the tallest War Memorial in France dedicated to victims of the First World War. Financed by a public fund in 1919, it was inaugurated on 8th July, 1927.
Engraved on the four sides of the monument’s base are the names of all 254 Antibois (people from Antibes) who were killed during this terrible war. The monument is also a poignant reminder that Antibes suffered the highest number of losses than any other town in France during this same war.
Local tradition has it that the classical sculptor, Henri Bouchard (1875 – 1960) and professor at the Beaux-Arts of Paris and member of this Institution in 1933, committed suicide when he realized he had placed the soldier’s rifle on the wrong side.
To find the monument, follow Avenue du 11 Novembre until you come to Antibes’ football stadium. A little further down the road, to your left, you’ll see a fairly large car park if you happen to have driven there instead of walking (quite feasible). The monument is located between the sports field and the fort. While at first glance it may seem quite hard to reach the fort, it’s actually fairly easy. Facing the fort, go to the left of the sports field and follow the path (and signs) around to the fort’s entrance.
While the name “poilu” by and large means hairy in French, in this particular case the words “le Poilu” was the nick-name French soldiers were given during World War One.