When Paris Was Protected with Sandbags and Masking Tape, 1914-1918

Arc de Triomphe.

Biblioteque Nationale de France

By the first week of September 1914, the Germans had come within thirty kilometers of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris. The French and British armies were engaged in fierce fighting with the Germans in the First Battle of the Marne which repelled the Germans. Still, Parish remained uncomfortably close to the front lines for much of the Great War.

h/t: rarehistoricalphotos

Masking tapes on glass windows (protection against explosions).

Biblioteque Nationale de France

Once the war started, much of the city’s bustling life abruptly halted as men mobilized and shipped off to the frontlines. In their place, wives, daughters, sisters, and mothers filled the labor gap. Many shops closed, though those selling food and other daily provisions remained open. Several of Paris’ big hotels, devoid of guests and much of their staff, transformed into hospitals.

Notre Dame de Paris.

Biblioteque Nationale de France

It was during this time that sandbags began to enter largely into the scenery of Paris. To protect its famous monuments from bombardment and shrapnel, the city’s population set up piles of sandbags, stored the important artwork in a safe location, removed the stained-glass windows from cathedrals and other buildings.

Fontaine Carpeaux.

Biblioteque Nationale de France

Another creative protection method was reinforcing windows with lattices of masking tape which was never tested whether it really worked against the blast. Nevertheless, it offered some sort of psychological protection against the gloomy wartime backdrop.

Stores using mask tapes.

Biblioteque Nationale de France


Biblioteque Nationale de France


Biblioteque Nationale de France


Biblioteque Nationale de France

Colonne Vendôme.

Biblioteque Nationale de France


Biblioteque Nationale de France


Biblioteque Nationale de France


Biblioteque Nationale de France


Biblioteque Nationale de France


Biblioteque Nationale de France


Biblioteque Nationale de France


Biblioteque Nationale de France

Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel.

Biblioteque Nationale de France

Le Louvre.

Biblioteque Nationale de France

Another view of Notre Dame de Paris.

Biblioteque Nationale de France


Biblioteque Nationale de France


Biblioteque Nationale de France


Biblioteque Nationale de France

Sandbags protecting the Amiens Cathedral.

Biblioteque Nationale de France

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