Battles of the Marne’ Memorial

1914 - 1918

Castle Parc - 51700 Dormans







Merci à Susan, Nora et Noël pour la traduction






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00 33   or    …

Tourism office 

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Open :


April, 1st to November, 11th 

Everyday from 2.30 pm to 6.30 pm,

and  Sunday morning, from 10 to 12 am

Other days 

Open only for groups booked in advance





This is one of four Great War national monuments built after 1918. Straight after the end of the conflict, it was decided to build this memorial for all the victims of this war and in thanksgiving to God. Therefore, as early as 1919, the Duchess of Estissac formed a committee comprising H.E. Cardinal Luçon, Archbishop of Reims, Monsignor Tissier, Bishop of Châlons and Marshall Foch who chose the site. According to him indeed, Dormans had been the central point of the two battles of the Marne (September 1914 and July 1918) during which the future of France was decided. A national subscription provided for the creation of this fifty-two-meter-high Monument of remembrance, which overlooks the park and its 14th, and 18th century castle, which belonged to famous names of French history.


The square and the main frontage


On the square, there are sundial and an orientation table, which points to the surrounding villages of the second battle of the Marne (July 1918).


The gothic-inspired chapel as a whole is both religiously and militarily motivated. Indeed, the square tower crowned with a crenulated rampart walk and its loophole-pierced wall along the staircase is in the mediaeval tradition of the monks-soldiers.


The main frontage is dedicated to Christ-king, represented on the gable. He is being crowned by the hand of God – not by the angels – and is surrounded by Saint Louis on his right and Joan of Arc on his left. The whole is treated in high relief.


The second gable is higher and topped with a bronze Saint Michael. The same personage is represented crushing the dragon, symbol of the enemy, on the stained glass window, which lights up the narthex of the crypt.


The crypt


The crypt, opened to worship as early as 1924, opens on to the square. On the tympanum, above the inscription meaning “To Christ…”, a Military Cross entwined in a crown of thorns reminds us that victory requires sacrifice. In contrast with the upper chapel, this is a place of mourning: the sarcophagus stands for the 1.350.000 dead people of the war, the names of those who gave their lives during the battles of the Marne are forever engraved in the stone, and the characteristics of war on the wrought iron gate separating the narthex from the crypt.



However, since everything here is a symbol, mourning is closely linked to hope. That is why the low reliefs on either side of the high-altar, which is topped with a statue of Our Lady of the Marne, show on the right the weeping angels of the De Profundis and on the left joyful angels of the Te Deum. On the frontage one can also notice a French cockerel weeping for the dead while another one is exulting for victory.


In the centre, the great wrought iron chandelier bears these words in Latin: “I will keep the sleeping ones and I will illuminate those who hope in the Lord”. The very same words are to be written again on the huge stained glass window of the upper chapel.


The upper chapel


On the tympanum, one can see a low relief, which represents the angels presenting a dying soldier at the bottom of the Cross with the words: “May the angels lead you to Heaven”. This is the transition from mourning to joy. The door opens on the colossal stained glass window where Saint Joan of Arc and Saint Michael present a “poilu” to Christ-Glorious, surrounded by angels and allied soldiers. On the right hand side are Lieutenant-Colonel Driant, French hero killed in 1916 near Douaumont and Corporal Sellier who sounded the ceasefire on November 7th 1918 to clear the way for the German authorities to put forwards the terms of the armistice.


Around the choir, the stained glass windows show the coats of arms of the French provinces of the time.


On the North and South sides, one can see the patron saints of the armies and the Blessed Virgins of the front. Eight French saints are carved in the stone buttresses having the features of those linked to the 14-18 war.


The dome, lit by thirty-two windows and on which the Latin word “lux” (i.e. light) and the beginning of the “Te Deum” are written, is supported by four pillars, two which were given by Alsace and Lorraine. Firmin Michelet carved each of them depicting a scene in French history: Saint Loup stopping the Huns in 451, Charles Martel checking the Arabs in Poitiers in 732, Joan of Arc driving the English out of France in 1429 in Orléans and the fourth is dedicated to the Marne victories (September 1914, July 1918).  France is represented by a young girl giving a crown and a sword (symbols of victory) to a soldier and holding an olive branch (symbol of peace) in her other hand.


The design of the floor of the chapel reminds one of the labyrinths of the cathedrals of Reims and Amiens.


The North frontage is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin with a copy of a statue in Reims cathedral and overlooks the esplanade and its lantern to the dead. The South frontage is simply decorated with Dormans coat of arms.



The ossuary


It contains the bones of about 1.500 soldiers from both German and allied armies. Only eleven of them have been identified. After World War II, three urns were also added here: one holding the ashes of those deported toDachau, the second holding some earth from a French cemetery in Italy and the third some earth from Dien Bien Phu, in homage to the combatants of Indo-china.


The gravestone reads: “The humiliated bones shall leap with joy before the Lord”. In the back, behind Marshall Foch’s death mask topped with the allied flags, the white crosses on the stained glass window remind one of the military cemeteries, such as that of Dormans.


Under the cloister, the organization chart of the battles of the Marne, which twice saved France, can be seen.



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This leaflet sums up the facts. It should help for a short visit of the monument. You will find at the entrance a French illustrated booklet and much more about this important remembrance site.





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