Following the occupation of northern France by the Germans in the Spring of 1940, the French government set out in search of a fallback town. After a short stay in Bordeaux and another in Clermont-Ferrand, Vichy was finally chosen as the provisional capital of France. The executive power and the two Chambers officially moved there on 9 July 1940. Vichy remained the capital until August 1944. After the liberation, the inhabitants were relieved to realize that the presence of the government and the occupying troops had left few indelible physical traces. In spite of significant material damage, the hotels, villas and spa buildings quickly regained their former beauty. Vichy once again became “the queen of the spa towns” and the war disappeared prematurely into the abyss of oblivion.
The project “Vichy 1939-1945” was conceived as an easily accessible educational tool, adapted from my book, Vichy contre Vichy. Une capitale sans mémoire, published by Belin/Humensis in 2019. It is an original contribution aiming to bring the history of the Second World War back to the Vichyssois urban space in a subtle and non-permanent way. The website and the mobile app are available in French and English. They allow users to discover the key places of the history of the Second World War in Vichy.
Audrey Mallet, initiator of the project
I hold a Ph.D. in contemporary history (Paris I-Panthéon Sorbonne / IHTP-CNRS / Concordia University). Currently, I am head of the foreign languages and cultures department at ENSAE Paris, and a research fellow at LARHRA.