Navegación – Mapa del sitio

InicioNuméros19RecensionTourism and War


Tourism and War

Sébastien Jacquot
Traducción de Université Bretagne Occidentale
Este artículo es una traducción de:
Tourisme et guerre [fr]

Texto completo

1Bertram Gordon, War Tourism, Second World War France From Defeat and Occupation to the Creation of Heritage, Cornell University Press, Ithaca and London, 2018

2Yves-Marie Évanno, Johan Vincent, Tourisme et Grande Guerre. Voyage(s) sur un front historique méconnu (1914-2019), Éditions Codex, 2019

3The connection between war and tourism is often understood from the point of view of tourism long after the fighting has ended through visits to former battlefields or places of remembrance. However, two recently published works extend the scope of war tourism to include the issue of tourism during wartime; an issue that has been the subject of very little research to date, as historian John Walton pointed out in 1996. Indeed, the two World Wars saw a continuance of tourism with soldiers on leave, resorts and hotels that remained open despite the circumstances, and the concerns of various stakeholders in how to anticipate and prepare for the post-war period. Moreover, in their letters to loved ones or on their return home, these millions of soldiers from all over the world evoked landscapes and encounters, fuelling imaginations with their stories of the places they had seen. Tourism and war are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, tourism has always existed in different forms during times of war, in the areas just behind the fronts or where soldiers spent their leave. Remembrance tourism also began before the wars in question were over, through visits to the battlefields in the footsteps of a deceased relative.

4In his book War Tourism published in 2018, American historian Bertram M. Gordon focuses on tourism in France during and after the Second World War. The book’s subtitle explicitly covers the different periods: Second World War France From Defeat and Occupation to the Creation of Heritage. It focuses on tourism in France related to the Second World War – both during the war itself and since that time – through the narratives and tourism practices that resulted from it.

5The author discusses tourism in France and in Paris in the pre-war period, particularly German representations of the country with the influence of the book Gott in Frankreich? (in French, “Dieu est-il français [Is God French?]), published in 1929 and presenting an idealised but outdated vision of France, which can explain the forms of Nazi tourism in the country. Tourism was essentially a way of signifying political domination. The narrative of Nazi victory took the form of a photo album featuring Hitler visiting several French tourist sites, and notably the Eiffel Tower. As for the Maginot Line and the Glade of the Armistice in Compiègne (a site chosen out of revenge as it was where the 1918 and 1940 armistices were signed), these were portrayed as high places of German superiority. Paris and France became rest and recuperation destinations for soldiers on leave from other fronts; tourism was seen as a “reward” for German soldiers and civilians, offering the usual tourist stereotypes of romance and sex, gastronomy, and the good life. The Nazis controlled their soldier’s tourism activities through organized tours and areas reserved specifically for Germans, along with attempts to control the soldiers’ morals. French culture was highlighted (and sometimes protected) as a means of glorifying the ability of the Germans to appreciate and enjoy it, thereby demonstrating their superiority.

6Certain French people were also tourists during the Occupation thanks to the maintaining of paid leave, encouraging a return to nature, promoting regional folklore, advocating hiking or a commitment to heritage. However, this was short-distance tourism due to the separation between the two ‘Frances’, that of the North occupied by the German army and that of the South with the French government. The organisational aspects of tourism also experienced transformations. Tourism infrastructures were placed at the service of the war effort, to the extent that the town of Vichy, then a spa resort, was designated the capital of the Vichy regime. The war also resulted in the structures, policies and ambitions of the tourism sector being redesigned (creation of regional tourism committees and professional organisations), including within the resistance movements (Tourism and Labour).

7The last three chapters of the book deal with post-World War II remembrance and tourism, particularly with respect to the sites of the D-Day landings and the Liberation of France, and with the different imaginaries constructed around the various places associated with the war. The difficulty of developing tourism around the Occupation and the places connected with the Vichy regime is also analysed, resuming the idea of the cover-up of French responsibilities mentioned by other historians (notably Paxton and Rousset).

8Tourisme et Grande Guerre is a collective work edited by historians Yves-Marie Évanno and Johan Vincent. Its various chapters discuss and analyse the intersections between tourism and the First World War, from 1914 to 2019 and from wartime tourism to the different forms of tourism that resulted from it. Twenty-eight case studies (18 in French, nine in English and one in Spanish) focus on the link between tourism and the First World War, mainly in France but also in Scotland, Portugal, Austria, Macedonia, Switzerland, Spain, Italy and Belgium.

9The book is divided into three parts. The first part, comprising eight chapters, deals with tourism during the First World War from two different perspectives. The first of these concerns how tourism was maintained in tourist areas, particularly resorts, as in the case of Scotland (by A. Durie) and Austria (S. Malzner), or again the attempts to develop tourism in areas spared by the war, such as the Algarve in Portugal (J. M. Vieira Rodrigues), while San Sebastián benefited from Spanish neutrality until 1917 (C. Larrinaga). The second perspective concerns tourism by soldiers during their more or less supervised furloughs: American soldiers in the Dauphiné leave area organised by the YMCA (L. Perrin), and Canadian soldiers in Paris (J. Martin). Soldiers were also travellers: whether the poilus infantrymen of the French Armée d’Orient in Thessaloniki (F. Schaeffer), or the German prisoners, officers or dignitaries detained in tourism infrastructures, which led to resentment on the part of the local populations and at the same time took on an almost spectacle-like nature (R. Richard).

10The second part of the book, also comprising eight chapters, discusses the actions undertaken by the tourism stakeholders (hoteliers, professional unions, publishing houses, etc.) or the public authorities, both to maintain a tourism activity during the war and to prepare the post-war period. Tourism practices and accommodation were maintained in Saint-Malo through “pragmatism” and “compromise” (E. Le Gall). In Switzerland, the drop in international tourism during the First World War led in turn to a price war between hoteliers, requiring new regulations, as well as to a reduction in costs through the reforming of hotel cuisine (M. Narindal). Post-war reflections led to the setting up of national tourism offices, as in Switzerland (A. A. Hoppler), or the importing of other ways of organising tourism from the United States (G. Della-Vedova). Nationalist concerns about the control of foreigners imposed the obligation to keep a register of visitors staying in British hotels, a practice that continued long after the end of the war (K. James). The war also led to a reconfiguration of the work of publishing houses, which started producing travel guides for soldiers during the war and then conferred a nationalist dimension on these guidebooks with the emergence of the Guide Bleu French-language travel guides (H. Morlier). These travel guides played an essential role in the discovery of the battlefields, as shown by the analysis of the different generations of guidebooks from the post-war period to the present day (M. Conelly and T. Godden). Remembrance tourism was in fact prepared during the war itself, with the first visits to the trenches and the battlefields and reflections by the States on this subject (V. Morgavero).

11The third part of the book comprises twelve chapters devoted to post-war tourism. Some of these chapters evoke the creation of places of remembrance through the prism of specific sites (the Hartmannswillerkopf in Alsace, by N. Lefort; the Grand Couronné, by O. Verdier), the sensitivities of visitors (through the study of a diary, by F. Jagielski), or the policies of tourism development through battlefield tourism (in the Vosges, by P. Alexandre). Other chapters consider specific groups of visitors and the remembrance issues arising from them: the Germans in Verdun in the period between the two World Wars (J. Roy), the fascistisation of the remembrance of the war by Italian veterans in France (P. L. Buzzi), the role of veterans’ associations in the remembrance of the Great War in Italy (U. Pavan Dalla Torre), and Australian tourists in the Somme in connection with Australian investments for the Centenary celebrations (C. Dupuis). These remembrance practices are thus examined from their national perspectives. Finally, four chapters deal with the constitution of generic entities of remembrance tourism: the transition from visits to battlefields to visits to memorials (S. Gregor), the definition of the “war landscape” in travel guides through the ages via the example of Les Éparges (N. Mariotti), the war memorials in the different towns and cities of France (F. David), and the war museums and the search for new forms of narration in connection with new audiences (C. I. Artico).

12The intention behind these two books is to combine the study of wartime tourism (by soldiers on leave or the maintaining of certain forms of tourism far from the front) and the forms taken by tourism in the post-war period. While wartime tourism displayed continuities with pre-existing imaginaries and revealed ideologies of tourism and the relationship between populations, the post-war period could also represent a time of rupture. This involved the emergence of major tourist sites, new interpretations attached to the regions concerned, as well as new imaginaries conveyed by both public policies and by the soldiers’ personal stories. Post-war tourism was conceived, prepared and even planned well before the end of the war and by a diversity of stakeholders (veterans, hoteliers, publishing houses, public actors, transport companies, etc.). The war also gave rise to new and differentiated tourism practices: tourism was an operator in the manufacturing of memories of the war, not just a category of practice linked to post-war places.

13In the final analysis, both books discuss the integration of war into daily life in different forms: having to deal with it (continuing the tourist season despite the war, taking advantage of leave); a tourism reflecting specific ideologies or a new relationship of domination to be instituted and demonstrated (as in Occupied France); or the way in which tourism during and after the war constituted an attempt to understand the reasons behind the war and to attribute meaning to it, despite certain criticisms about the commodification of memories.

Inicio de página


Walton J., (1996), “Leisure towns in wartime: the impact of the First World War in Blackpool and San Sebastian”, Journal of contemporary history, 31, 4.

Inicio de página

Para citar este artículo

Referencia electrónica

Sébastien Jacquot, « Tourism and War », Via [En línea], 19 | 2021, Publicado el 26 julio 2021, consultado el 24 marzo 2023. URL : ; DOI :

Inicio de página


Université Bretagne Occidentale

Inicio de página

Derechos de autor


Creative Commons - Atribución-NoComercial-SinDerivadas 4.0 Internacional - CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Inicio de página
  • Logo DOAJ - Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Logo CNRS - Institut des sciences humaines et sociales
  • Logo DIALNET
  • OpenEdition Journals
Buscar en OpenEdition Search

Se le redirigirá a OpenEdition Search