Fort Mont-Valérien was built in 1841 as part of the city's ring of modern fortifications. It overlooks the Bois de Boulogne.
The fortress defended Paris during the Franco-Prussian War, and remained the strongest fortress protecting the city, withstanding artillery bombardments that lasted several months. The surrender of the fortress was one of the main clauses of the armistice signed by the Government of National Defense with Otto von Bismarck on 17 January 1871, allowing the Germans to occupy the strongest part of Paris' defences in exchange for shipments of food into the starving city.
Colonel Henry of army intelligence, a key player in the Dreyfus Affair, was confined at the prison of Mont-Valérien in 1898. The day after being confined, 31 August 1898, he cut his throat with a razor that had been left in his possession, taking to the grave his secret and that of a great part of the affaire Dreyfus.
During the Second World War, the fortress was used, from 1940 to 1944, as a prison and place of executions by the Nazi occupiers of Paris. The Germans brought prisoners here in trucks from other locations. The prisoners were temporarily confined in a disused chapel, and later taken to be shot in a clearing 100 metres away. The bodies were then buried in various cemeteries in the Paris area. More than 1,000 hostages and resistants were executed. The immense majority were members of the French Resistance.
The site now serves as a national memorial. On 18 June 1945, Charles de Gaulle consecrated the site in a public ceremony.
Today, the area in front of the memorial, a reminder of the French Resistance against the German occupation forces, has been named Square Abbé Franz Stock. During the German occupation, Stock took care of condemned prisoners here, and he mentioned 863 executions at Mont-Valérien in his diary.
There is also an American military cemetery on the site, the resting place of 1,541 American soldiers who died in France during the First World War.References:
The Castle of Gruyères is one of the most famous in Switzerland. It was built between 1270 and 1282, following the typical square plan of the fortifications in Savoy. It was the property of the Counts of Gruyères until the bankruptcy of the Count Michel in 1554. His creditors the cantons of Fribourg and Bern shared his earldom. From 1555 to 1798 the castle became residence to the bailiffs and then to the prefects sent by Fribourg.
In 1849 the castle was sold to the Bovy and Balland families, who used the castle as their summer residency and restored it. The castle was then bought back by the canton of Fribourg in 1938, made into a museum and opened to the public. Since 1993, a foundation ensures the conservation as well as the highlighting of the building and the art collection.
The castle is the home of three capes of the Order of the Golden Fleece. They were part of the war booty captured by the Swiss Confederates (which included troops from Gruyères) at the Battle of Morat against Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy in 1476. As Charles the Bold was celebrating the anniversary of his father's death, one of the capes is a black velvet sacerdotal vestment with Philip the Good's emblem sewn into it.
A collection of landscapes by 19th century artists Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Barthélemy Menn and others are on display in the castle.