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The 1954 French flap:

The index page for the 1954 French flap section of this website is here.

June 27 or 28, 1954, Varanges, Côte-d'Or:

Reference for this case: 27-June-54-Varanges.
Please cite this reference in any correspondence with me regarding this case.


A case of "windshield cancer" was reported in the regional newspaper La Bourgogne Républicaine, of Dijon, on page 2 for June 30, 1954:

During the night from June 27 to 28, 1954, Mr. André Patouillet, living in Varanges in the Côte-d'Or, had heard a small explosion with his wife, but hearing nothing afterwards, he had fallen asleep again. In the morning, when he went to the garage to pick up his Renault car, he found with a little bitterness that the rear window of his car had exploded and was completely broken.

The newspaper was surprised that after the outbreak of windshield explosions, the rear windows were now exploding.

The incident would not have had its place in ufology, if the pioneer of ufology in France Jimmy Guieu had not come to the idea that the "epidemic", very publicized, of the explosions of windshields and other glasses in this period in France had something to do with extraterrestrial activities...





During the night from Sunday to Monday, Mr. Patouillet, André, living in Varanges (Côte-d'Or), heard a small explosion with his wife; hearing nothing afterwards, he fell asleep again. But in the morning when he went to the garage to take his car (a Renault), he noticed with a little bitterness that the rear window of his car had exploded and was completely broken.

Mr. Patouillet only had the resource of having his glass replaced by a mechanic from Genlis. After the windshields, the rear windows; where will the epidemic end.



The windshields "explosions" in 1954, called "window cancer" or "parebrisite" in French, has become an often cited example of "collective illusion" or "mass hysteria". Sociologists and psychologists refer to these incidents in France and in the United States to ensure that "crowds" can easily fall into unfounded collective myths.

And of course, some "skeptical" ufologists explain that the "window cancer" that preceded the wave of "flying saucers" of 1954 proves that the saucers too were only illusions.

None put forward the following point: "collective hysteria" here would in any case concern only the interpretation of the facts, not the facts themselves. And the interpretations were not really "hysterical", they were attempts at rationalization quite understandable and sensible in the context of the time.

All sorts of explanations were advanced at the time for the "window cancer", such as an effect of atomic experiments, Martian activity, or "vandals". In the United States, the police found that the epidemic affected mainly old cars, and it was thought that the windows would explode as a result of their wear.

In the windshield explosions reported in France in 1954, I find "constants": the mention of a light or a flash, blue when the color is mentioned, the lack of sense of the explanations by vandals, Martians, atomic tests, the insistence of the witness(es) that no pebble struck the windshield, the hearing of an explosion sound, the opacity of the window after the explosion.

Some of these characteristics have really no strangeness: an explosion noise is perfectly normal when a windshield breaks. The window becomes opaque because the anti-burst protection layer produced this. The lack of notice of a shock by a pebble or something else can also be explained: the windshield may have been hit and weakened by a hit long before, and then explodes only later when nothing hits it.

I have less idea about the flash or the light. Is it an illusion caused by the sudden opacity of the glass?

Jimmy Guieu linked this mystery to the extraterrestrials, but few ufologists followed him on this path. The Press did it sometimes, but without claiming this "explanation" was serious.

Anyways, for this case, there is no reason at all to claim that extraterrestrials have something to do with it.


(These keywords are only to help queries and are not implying anything.)

Varanges, Côte-d'Or, windshield cancer, car, Patouillet, windshield


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Document history:

Version: Created/Changed by: Date: Change Description:
1.0 Patrick Gross February 21, 2021 First published.

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This page was last updated on February 21, 2021.