Cornflower bleuets for French Remembrance

Volunteers across France are raising funds for wounded military personnel, widows and war orphans by selling blue flowers ahead of November 11 commemorations

The French equivalent of the Remembrance poppy, the cornflower or Bleuet de France, is being sold by volunteers in towns and cities throughout France from now until November 11.

You can find them on the streets in town centres, shopping centres or supermarkets. You can also buy a Bleuet de France online at €1 a flower or €5 for a special centenary flower, where other products with the flower symbol such as umbrellas, earrings and t-shirts are also available.

Orders are not currently sent abroad, though Connexion has been told that this service should be up and running for their next campaign in May 2019. Organisers will, however, send to the UK if you email bleuet-de-france@onacvg.fr or contact them via their Facebook page.

This year’s Bleuet de France campaign also includes short video clips to raise awareness of the type of people helped by the money they collect, wounded military personnel, widows and war orphans.

The cornflower was chosen as a symbol at the end of World War One because of the blue uniforms of young soldiers who were nicknamed the bleuets by the older poilus. The idea of selling flowers made out of material to raise money for the wounded came from two women, Charlotte Malleterre, the daughter of the director of the l’Hôtel National des Invalides and Suzanne Leenhardt, a nurse.

In 1925, they set up a workshop where wounded soldiers made the flowers. In 1934, they were sold for the first time on the streets of Paris on November 11 - 128,000 were sold on that first day. It was such a success that the following year they were sold throughout France and the tradition continues to this day and has been extended so they are also sold on and around VE day on May 8.

The money collected is given to the Office National des Anciens Combattants et Victimes de Guerre which takes care of all war and terrorist victims and is also responsible for most of the war memorial events. 

From €100 collected, €58 goes to help retired and injured members of the armed forces, war and terrorism victims, €25 goes to organising memorial events and the remaining €17 is used for administrative purposes. In 2017, €1.3M was raised by the sale of cornflowers, donations and sale of other cornflower products on their website.

You can also buy poppies for Remembrance in France.
There are nine branches of the Royal British Legion in France, and each one has several different locations in their area where you can pick up a poppy. The branches cover Paris, Bordeaux and the South-West, Somme, Lyon, Nice-Monaco, Nord/Pas de Calais, Cannes-Provence, Linazay-Poitou-Charentes and Central Brittany. You can email Catherine Curtis at kissmekate1@orange.fr, Brenda Vockings at vockings@btinternet.com or Commander Michael Healy MBE at mhealy@orange.fr for poppies by post for anyone anywhere in France.
Catherine Curtis, from the Brittany branch,  has a small stock of wreaths and other poppy items including lapel poppies and handmade items and is happy to supply to anyone who asks. Brenda Vockings, from the Bordeaux branch, says she can also supply anniversary poppy pins, car poppies and poppy bracelets and donations can be made on-line to their branch Just Giving account, which you can find via the RBL France website. Commander Healy, chairman of the Nice-Monaco branch, says you can buy poppies just for you or you can order several to sellto others and pay later for any that are sold. 

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