D-Day vets get free rooms in top Paris hotels

21st April 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, April 20 (AFP) - The French government Tuesday announced plans to welcome 300 veterans of the 1944 D-Day landings - chiefly from Britain, Canada and the United States - with free accommodation in top Paris hotels.

PARIS, April 20 (AFP) - The French government Tuesday announced plans to welcome 300 veterans of the 1944 D-Day landings - chiefly from Britain, Canada and the United States - with free accommodation in top Paris hotels.

Ceremonies will be conducted in early June to mark the 60th anniversary of the Allied landings on the beaches of Normandy in northwest France which began on June 6, 1944 and was a major turning point in World War II to end Nazi rule.

The veterans will be accommodated in 31 of the French capital's plushest hotels from June 4 to 7, the ministries of tourism and former combatants announced, in rooms which in June would normally cost between EUR 500 and EUR 700 (USD 600 to USD 840) a night.

The initiative by the hotels was hailed by tourism minister Leon Bertrand and ex-servicemen's minister Hamlaoui Mekachera as "a mark of respect for the acts of bravery" carried out by the men 60 years ago.

"This is a truly exceptional offer," Mekachera told reporters. "It is a gesture with a strong symbolism in keeping with the gratitude our country wishes to show its liberators."

Bertrand described the hotels' move as "extremely generous...a strong signal of gratitude."

Each hotel will take in about 10 veterans (all in their late 70s and older) and those accompanying them for three nights and "will take all steps to make their stay as agreeable as possible," according to Didier de Calvez, vice-president of the Four Seasons Hotel group, on behalf of the hoteliers.

"We wanted to show by this gesture that, contrary to what some people say, the French people remember their liberators."

Ex-servicemen are expected from 13 countries in all and will be decorated with the Legion of Honour at a ceremony at the Invalides in Paris on June 5.

© AFP

                                               Subject: French news

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