Luxembourg and France's Folly - The Maginot Line

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August 22nd 2013
Published: August 29th 2013
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We are so close to Luxembourg that it would be crazy not to take the short drive and add another country to those we have travelled to.We are not sure what sightseeing there is to do but there has to be something different to add to our memories of this trip.

After being out for longer than we anticipated yesterday we thought that starting out earlier today would mean we might get home a bit earlier.

The area we are staying in is very quiet and peaceful and the forest gives one the feeling of it being eco-friendly.However,the same cannot be said for some of the surrounding towns of Amneville and today as we headed north towards Luxembourg we came across a town with an unfortunate name in Uckange and another ugly blot on the landscape.What makes this more unusual, to us anyway,is that the site which contained a blast furnace which appeared to be rusting away has been preserved as historic and conducts tours by the public.The work site was decommissioned in 1991.Sometimes we wonder.....................?

Like all other crossings of borders in Western Europe we hardly even knew we had crossed into Luxembourg and as it is such a small country we were very soon in the capital.The country is a tax haven and we took the opportunity to fill the car up with diesel at 10c cheaper than in France.

There were enough car parks noted on the GPS that we could use but trying to get access to any one of them was another thing and we drove around for 15 minutes before we had ourselves in the right lane to enter an underground car park that took us down 4 levels.The walls of the car park were rough hewn rock and for a moment hoped that the country did not suffer earthquakes.

A notable feature of the centre of the city is a rather deep ravine that has been part of the city's defences over the years as it has been invaded by all of the countries that surround the landlocked duchy.We took one of a number of bridges that cross the ravine and had a stroll around one of the shopping streets looking to find a boulangerie so we had something to take with us for lunch out in the countryside as we headed back towards France.This was easier said than done and it was only when we were walking back to the car that we found a large square with many restaurants and a couple of places that also sold breads and rolls etc to take away.

We had only been a couple of hours in Luxembourg but it had given us a taste but we had other places to go before the day came to an end.We stopped just over the border back in France for a boot lunch on the side of the road.Here the location of the border was even more obscure and again we wouldn't have known we were back in France except for the large road sign that stated the road speeds for France that appeared just after crossing the border.

Our aim for the afternoon was to track down some of the remaining fortifications of the French Maginot Line.

The Maginot Line was a series of fortifications that France had erected after the 1st and before the 2nd World Wars to protect its borders from a German invasion.The Line of gun emplacements,bunkers and underground tunnels was principally in the disputed territory of the Alsase and Lorraine departments in Northeastern France that Germany believed should be back under their control.What was built was extensive and designed to stop a full on frontal attack.What of course happened when Germany invaded France in 1940 was to come through Belgium and western France leaving the Maginot Line a costly white elephant and practically useless to defend the country.

Our drive took us east from where we crossed from Luxembourg through a number of small villages to the hillside town of Veckring and the Schoenenbourg fortification which is still pretty well intact after 70 odd years and today is a tourist attraction that offers guided tours through the underground bunkers.

Unfortunately we arrived about 15 minutes after the English speaking guided tour had left and the tour party would have been too far away underground to be able to catch up.So we had to be content with viewing the bunker and its surrounds from outside.

On our way back to the apartment we had a little 'confrontation' of our own with an officious security guard at the turn off to our apartment shortly after we entered the parking area and drive to the various attractions surrounding where we are staying.We had encountered someone similar on the day we had arrived but had driven a short distance on and then came back behind him sneaking past the road diversion sign before he realised what we were up to.At the time we had no idea there were other ways of getting to the apartment.

Today was different and this guy was quite definite we were not to get past him and in the end we gave up and drove the long way around to our apartment.

Again we had been out longer than we anticipated and we needed as much sleep as we could as we have a long 400km drive right across northern France to our next accommodations near Dunkirk.

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