At the outbreak of the First World War about 3 million trees lined the roads of France.
These avenues, which were a major component of the theatre of the war, made a strong impression on soldiers of the British Commonwealth and were frequently described by them in their letters and drawings, and later on in their stories.
In 1915, they inspired a British officer, Second Lieutenant Alexander Douglas Gillespie, to wish for the creation of “one long avenue (...) from the Vosges to the sea”. In Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Italy, French roads were the inspiration behind memorial avenues where each tree is dedicated to a soldier.
At the time of celebrating the centenary of the Armistice, the association ALLÉES-AVENUES / allées d’avenir / wanted to spotlight this little-known aspect of the history of WW1. The international symposium “Tree avenues – from war to peace” (12-13 November 2018 in the Vosges, France) focuses on this history, right up to the present day and the ongoing dedication of ordinary citizens and public authorities to the promotion of these avenues.