Ouvrage Hackenberg in Veckring, France is part of the Maginot Line fortifications and you can visit this underground fortress. It’s about 1.5 hour drive from Spangdahlem, and 1.5 hours from Ramstein. It’s easily done as a day trip and you’ll learn lots of neat history as well as get to experience riding on the underground train and even see a working gun turrets. It was built between 1929-1932 and was taken by German forces. In June 1944 it was liberated by American forces.
While this fortress is impressive and worth taking the tour to see, you do need to do a bit of planning. Make sure to use their website to see when the English tours are as they only offer them once a day and not every day off season. You don’t need to arrive early as tickets do not even go on sale until 15 mins prior to tour. The website says the English tour is at 2 pm but we were able to buy tickets at 2 pm for a 2:15 pm hour. Do know the tour lasts 2 hours and there aren’t any restrooms on the tour so keep that in mind for traveling with littles.
The underground fortress is huge and only part of it is able to be toured do to damage and collapsing in one of the wings. The tour guides are great and our guide, Paul, was very knowledgeable and made the 3 hours fly by.
There is a good amount of walking as well as some stairs so wear good walking shoes. You’ll also get to ride the underground train as well for part of it. They have an elevator for those with limited mobility. You get to see the gun turret in action both from the bottom and from the top, pretty neat to see.
There is also a small museum you’ll get to wander through which had some interesting stuff like gas masks for the whole family.
The lower halves of many of the walls were hand painted by the soldiers, not sure why other than may the boss didn’t want them to get bored while they were on the long shifts underground?
The damage done to Blockhouse 8 was down by the American soldiers as the liberated the fortress from the Germans who had overtaken it.
The website says to dress warm as it’s a constant 12 C which will feel colder in the winter than the summer months. We didn’t find it horribly cold but had coats on. It’s a bit chilly on the train.
We enjoyed the tour and the experience, we had kids ages 8-15 with us and for the most part it kept them interested but my teenager was the least thrilled with it and it was probably a bit long in his opinion. There were several younger kids in our group and they looked pretty bored and a few had to be carried the whole time by their parents, which could make for a long few hours. If your a history buff I’d recommend checking this out as the tour guides do a great job!
Know Before You Go
What: Ouvragne Hackenburg in Veckring, France
How To Get There: It’s about 1.5 hours from Spangdahlem, as well as 1.5 hours from Ramstein. GPS address: Route de Hackenberg, Vectoring 57920
Parking: Free parking available near the entrance & restrooms.
Cost: €10 adults, €5 kids ages 4-16 for the tour.
Traveling with little kids: Plan to baby wear, the tunnels are not stroller friendly with train tracks, etc.
How long: Plan on at least 2.5-3 hours for the tour, more if you want to picnic or eat a snack at the shop. There are also some hiking trails you can use.