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In a clever ploy during World War I, the French government devised a plan to deceive the German air force. Engineers were tasked with constructing a replica of Paris, strategically positioned just a few kilometers away from the real city. This decoy Paris was meticulously designed to mimic the iconic features of the authentic city, including renowned landmarks like the grand Champs-Élysées and the bustling Gard Du Nord railway station.

The elaborate ruse extended beyond mere buildings; the fabricated streets, factories, houses, and railways were all meticulously camouflaged to create the illusion of a bustling urban center. The objective was to divert enemy attention and aerial attacks away from the genuine Paris, safeguarding the capital and its inhabitants from potential harm.

Following the war’s conclusion, the need for the decoy Paris vanished, and the elaborate facade was dismantled. The once bustling streets and landmarks of the faux city were dismantled, leaving behind a testament to the ingenuity and resourcefulness employed during wartime deception efforts.



As World War I raged on, the French authorities faced a pressing challenge: how to thwart the German air force’s nighttime bombing raids. With aircraft still lacking radar technology, innovative solutions were needed to protect key targets from enemy attacks. The inspiration for one such solution arose in June 1917, following the devastating bombing of London.

Recognizing the vulnerability of aircraft to visual deception, the French Aeronautics Secretary and DCA (Defense Against Aircraft) embarked on a daring plan: creating a counterfeit city complete with false lights to confuse enemy pilots during nocturnal raids.

By early 1918, the ambitious project took shape, with plans to replicate not only Paris but also the industrial hub of Saint-Denis, home to vital factories. The decoy Paris would be strategically positioned near the forest of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, while Saint-Denis would be simulated in the vicinity of what is now Roissy airport. Additionally, dummy factories would be constructed on the eastern outskirts of Paris at Chelles.

The goal was clear: to create an elaborate facade that would deceive German pilots, diverting their attention away from the genuine targets and ultimately safeguarding French territory from devastating airstrikes.

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