We were treated to an "inside look" last month, à grace de WICE Director Véronique Kurtz, who went above and beyond normal channels and persisted in the required paperwork so that WICE members could have an up close and personal look at the history, culture, and Caserne des Célestins of the Garde in the 4th arrondissement.
The horses of the cavalry are mostly bred in Normandy and are color coded depending on their regiment.
The helmet plumes are color coded also, with the commander wearing the white plume, the officers wearing tri-colors, and all others wearing red.
Their pants are color coded (lots of color coding going on here!), with the white pants brought out for heads of states and the blue pants worn for lower ranking dignitaries.
The decorative helmets weigh 2.2 kilos, have 19 pieces, and are made by the Garde in its own manufacturing center.
The drummers' horses are trained to be guided by the riders' feet, since the drummers' hands are busy drumming.
The Garde makes their own horseshoes (and have to make lots of them!). The shoes get battered by cobblestones and have to be replaced every 40 days or so.
About 10% of the Garde are women.
Everywhere we looked, we could see the care these men and women give their horses and the camaraderie they feel with their human and equine buddies. It was an incredible peek into their daily lives. Merci mille fois.
Join upcoming WICE tours—a visit to the Ministry of Finance in Bercy on May 10 and a walking tour of the 6th arrondissement with Lee Hubert on May 15. Plus a special photography salon on the evening of May 10 (as a tribute to Gertrude Stein), complete with wine and review and discussion of the group's photographs.