On Tuesday, 13 December 2016, a stirring homage was paid to Major Antoine de Saint-Exupéry at the Pantheon in Paris (France’s repository of historical greats), marking the 70th anniversary of the first French publication of his book “The Little Prince” (Éditions Gallimard, 1946).

© Ministère de la Défense

Journal de 13h de TF1 du 13/12/2016 (French)

Under the dome of the Pantheon illuminated in the colours of the French Republic, a national homage was celebrated under the patronage of Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, French Minister of Defence, Mrs Audrey Azoulay, French Minister of Culture and Communication, and Army General André Lanata, French Air Force Chief of Staff.



Speech of Jean-Yves Le Drian, French Minister of Defence

Photo : © Ministère de la Défense / Roland Pellegrino


This event, dedicated to youth, was carried out before the inscription in memory of the creator of “The Little Prince”, which had been placed on one of the walls of the great nave of the Pantheon by the French government on 17 September 1965, in the presence of members of the family of the renowned writer-cum-aviator, as well as important French and foreign personalities and several civil and military delegations.



Stirring homage to Major Antoine de Saint-Exupéry at the Pantheon in Paris

Photo : ©A. Jeuland/Armée de l’Air


Aviators, writers, artists, young people and members of the Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Youth Foundation thus came to perpetuate the memory of this author and former French Air Force pilot, in the aim of transmitting to youth a universal humanist message. During the ceremony, the French Army Choir performed several songs, including the French national anthem “La Marseillaise”, to punctuate addresses given by young laureates from the Labo des Histoires and the Institut de l’Engagement, two French organisations supported by the Antoine de Saint Exupéry Youth Foundation, who read extracts from the literary work of the great writer recounting his career as a legendary author and aviator in relation to their personal life experiences. Two young people from the Miroir Association also performed an extract of Night Flight during this ceremony.



Hommage of youth people from Miroir Association

Photo : © FASEJ / Farida Brechemier


“Pilot, writer, combatant, Saint-Exupéry was all of them at once and in an indivisible way,” indicated the Minister of Defence. “Through him, civil and military aeronautics entered into the pantheon of literature, whereas each of his books remind us of the technical and human saga of the pioneers of aviation, of which he was both participant and hero.”



Speech of Audrey Azoulay, French Minister of Culture and Communication

Photo : © Ministère de la Défense / Roland Pellegrino

“Militant humanist” added Mr Le Drian, having his heart set on “the desire for union” of the French people, according to Mrs Azoulay, the figure of the writer-cum-aviator remains more than ever an inspiration for many generations around the world and in particular for youth, the citizens of tomorrow.

“At a time when our country must overcome major challenges, the humanism of Antoine de Saint Exupéry is a resource more than ever necessary for our Republic,” affirmed Mr Le Drian.

“Convinced by the strength of art because he was a great poet, Antoine de Saint Exupéry also knew of its power to assemble. And beyond his artistic expression, his entire life carried with it the desire for union,” stated the Minister of Culture. She highlighted the appeal Saint Exupéry pronounced in New York in 1942, three weeks after the landing of Allied Forces in North Africa: “Frenchmen, let us reconcile ourselves to serve”.



Wreath laying in front of the inscription in mémory of Antoine de Saint Exupéry

From left to right : François d’Agay, nephew and godson of Antoine de Saint Exupéry, Jean-Yves Le Drian, French Minister of Defence, Audrey Azoulay, French Minister of Culture and Communication and General André Lanata, Chief of Staff of the French Air Force (CEMAA)

Photo : © Ministère de la Défense / Roland Pellegrino


“He was among those artists and writers who considered commitment to their homeland as obvious,” the Minister highlighted. “The scope of his heritage is measured by his universality and his ability to address the generations that followed him.”

The Minister of Defence insisted on “the commitment” of the pilot who disappeared off the shores of Marseille on a reconnaissance flight on 31 July 1944 on board a Lockheed P-38 Lightning, while undertaking a mission to prepare the Allied Forces landing in Provence. Major Antoine de Saint Exupéry never stopped enriching the French Air Force heritage through his writings. “Today, the French Air Force retains the memory of one of its glorious veterans,” explained the Minister of Defence. “The presence in its ranks of a detachment of aviators of The Little Prince squadron from Air Base 709 testifies to it.”

On the occasion of this national commemoration, photographers and artists Manolo Chrétien and Pia Loro exhibited a monumental artwork portraying Antoine de Saint Exupéry and his Little Prince on the façade of the Pantheon.

Photo Credits :
© Terre d’exception
© Labo des Histoires


Speech of Jean-Yves Le Drian,
French Minister of Defence

Speech of Audrey Azoulay,
French Ministre of Culture and Communication