Ouvrage du MichelsbergOuvrage du Michelsberg
©Ouvrage du Michelsberg |Yves Noel

Inside the Fort Michelsberg

Accompanied by Rémi, one of the guides of the Ouvrage, set off on an underground journey to discover the amazing little-known story of this fortification

Rémi - Equipe Pays Thionvillois Tourisme20200124 Equipe Pays Thionvillois Tourisme 012
©Rémi - Equipe Pays Thionvillois Tourisme

A local expert and military heritage enthusiast will accompany you on a guided tour of the Ouvrage Michelsberg.


See the machine tools and watch the fort come to life

We love the guide’s stories about the soldiers’ lives

Discover the local history


We head for the Ouvrage for a visit on Sunday afternoon. The first visitors arrive. A coffee helps them wait until we’re ready to go. 2.30 pm, one last check: lamp ok, laser ok, fleece ok and hat for the ‘schness’ ok. You have to be equipped, it’s 13 degrees in the building all year round.

To start with, one basic question: Have you ever visited the Maginot Line? The answers are varied. To adapt, I set the context with some general history and some facts about its construction. The Michelsberg is a large artillery fortification on the Maginot Line. It was built between 1930 and 1937. Its crew consisted of 515 men. There are 1 km of galleries and 5 battle blocks in this underground city. The association has been restoring and improving the structure since 1993



We really go deep into the entrails of the Michelsberg. The smell of diesel makes us feel as if we’re in a factory; in front of us are 4 engines. We start the DeLorean and are transported 80 years back in time into the shoes of Lieutenant Bertoletti. We quietly make our way to the workshop, where Georges, my colleague, is restoring machine tools. It is thanks to him that we are able to maintain this 6,000 m² behemoth. Next are the living quarters with the showers, toilets and barracks. Then, it’s time for some food and we head for the kitchens. One for the officers and another for the troops.



Time to gradually return towards the surface up a 30-metre staircase. When we reach the lower floor, it’s time for the guide to do some sport. That’s right, it’s time to arm the turret. The 80-year-old behemoth comes back to life. It weighs 265 tons making it the largest turret in this fortification. It is the only one in North-East France that can be visited from the inside. One floor above are the various controls for operating rotation and the cannons.


My Sunday duty does not end there. The Michelsberg is my drug, it’s our passion. In addition to greeting the public and offering guided tours, I also take care of the building’s maintenance. We have various projects for improving the route of the guided tour and restoring the structure.

Every year, the Michelsberg Fort holds its “Christmas market” and mulled wine or hot apple juice can be enjoyed in the troop’s kitchen. Potato pancakes and sausages will delight young and old alike.


After visiting its installations, extremely modern for the 1940s, we arrive at the infantry and artillery command posts. The central nerve system of this underground city, where the organisation of everyday life and the building’s defence took place, we make our way to the front of the structure with its 5 combat blocks. The B6 is equipped with a turret for two 135 mm bomb launchers. Extremely effective, it fulfilled all its functions during attacks on the Michelsberg. After 2.5 hours, the group deserves a coffee. And that is when my visit to the Michelsberg ends.


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Passionate guides who bring the fort to life and know its history inside out