French heritage anniversary to coincide with Tour de France arrival

A FRENCH standard has been raised in York to flag up a series of French-themed events.

While the city gears up to mark the arrival of the Tour de France in the historic city next month, it also coincides with the 70th anniversary of the formation of the two French squadrons of the RAF Bomber Command in York.

About 2,300 French personnel were stationed at Elvington, leading to it being dubbed Le Petit France.

The squadrons carried out their first combined operations on July 1, 1944, bombing targets in their own homeland.

To mark the anniversary - as well as the arrival of the Grand Depart - the Yorkshire Air Museum commissioned a series of events in the city. They were launched when museum director Ian Reed helped raise French Standards over St Leonard's Place in York.

Events include a sound art experience, Maintenant, which features 100 sounds of York and 100 sounds of Paris, exhibited at York Theatre Royal from June 28 to July 6.

A new play, 'Cis and Barbiche', based on a true wartime romance between a French airman at Elvington and an English girl will also be staged at York Theatre Royal.

Written and produced by Australian actress Jenny Davis, the play will run from Thursday, July 3 until Saturday, July 5. The production was so well received in Perth, Western Australia, that a second run had to be staged, again playing to packed houses. The young Australian cast are travelling from Australia to stage the play.

There will be a four course VIP dinner at the De Grey Rooms on Wednesday, July 2 with the music of Paris-based singer Jean-Jacques Delaunay and his band, to raise funds for Marie Curie Cancer Care.

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