The 50th anniversary of the reconciliation of Franco-German relations has been overshadowed by the desecration of the graves of more than 50 German soldiers.
The incident happened at a military cemetery in the Ardennes which is around 40 kilometres from the city of Reims, where Merkel and Hollande marked the occasion.
Officials say wooden crosses were knocked over or ripped out. Some were used to make a camp fire.
“Well we’re a bit shocked to see this damage in a military cemetery, which shows the lack of respect for those (who lie here). For us this is sickening,” said Gilles Colson, the Mayor of Saint Etienne-a-Arnes.
Around 12,000 graves of mostly German soldiers from World War I are spread over 4 hectares near the town.
French police have launched an investigation but say it is too early to say whether this is was a political act or just the work of drunken youths.