Hundreds of citizens from this French city have turned out in a heartfelt display of thanks to Canada and the thousands of Canadian soldiers who fought and died at nearby Vimy Ridge exactly a century ago.
Vimy was the most successful part of the Battle of Arras in April 1917, as the Canadians pushed up and captured the strategically-important ridge from the Germans.
In a special ceremony held in the heart of the once-shattered city, Arras Mayor Frederic Leturque thanked those other countries whose soldiers participated in the battle a century ago: Australians and British, New Zealanders and South Africans.
But he saved a special thanks for Canada, telling Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the hundreds of others assembled that the Canadians’ actions at Vimy was a turning point for the city _ and for all of France.
The poppy ceremony, held a few hours before the much larger commemoration at Vimy, was one of both remembrance and peace.
The centrepiece was a large paper poppy laid out in the middle of the cobblestones square made up of smaller poppies with messages of thanks from the local people.
Trudeau and French President Francois Hollande wrote their own messages on paper poppies, with the Canadian prime minister saying that the world was a better place because of those who had served with courage.