The detail about de Gaulle's wish to stand out on the Champs-Elysées comes from Jean Lacouture's biography of the general. Futher minor details about de Gaulle's habits in Lacouture's book: that he prepared every speech in front of a mirror (note to Gordon Brown), that he drank a bottle of Graves almost every night, and that he smoked 80 cigarettes every day until he returned to France in June 1944, when he suddenly gave up. It's a completely irrelevant question in relation to the big things such as D-Day, the liberation of France, and everything else that was going on at the time – and perhaps only a smoker would ask it – but why did de Gaulle give up smoking in France in June 1944?
'There is,' the BBC reports, 'a deepening row in France over the alleged lengths gone to by President Nicolas Sarkozy's aides in order to conceal his short stature.' But it's not just about height. General de Gaulle was well over six feet tall. At the liberation parade in Paris in 1944, de Gaulle was heard whispering to an aide that the other officers and cilivians leading the march down the Champs-Elysées should allow the general to go forward on his own. 'Back a little,' the general said. It wasn't as if he didn't already stand out.