Friday was actually our last day in Metz and we continued to explore the region. This time we drove a bit further east with the main destination of the day being Saarbrücken in Germany. But we did take a small detour and I’m really happy that we did. The road took us towards Bitche and we made sure to stop at Fort Casso outside the village Rohrbach-lès-Bitche.
Fort Casso: a Part of the Ligne Maginot
The Ligne Maginot, in English the Maginot Line, was a defensive line built by the French to protect them against a German invasion. The defensive line stretches from Luxembourg in the northwest to Switzerland in the southeast. It did not continue all the way to the English channel as France did not want to disturb neutral Belgium.
Several types of fortifications stand along the line and the fortifications were never further away from each other than that they should be able to reach the whole area in between with their machine guns.
Fort Casso: Guarding Rohrbach-lès-Bitche Plateau
The building of Fort Casso began in 1934 and was completed in 1938. Fort Casso had the task of guarding the plateau of Rohrbach-lès-Bitche. It was successful against enemy attacks in 1939-1940. Not until the armistice between Germany and France did the Germans take control of the fort. The fort consists of three bunkers that are visible from the ground. Underground tunnels connect the three of them.
Volunteers from the Association Fort Casso has been taking care of the fort has since 1989 been. They maintain the fort and keep it open to the public. You can find a lot more practical information as well as history of the site on their homepage here >>
Fort Casso: Lunch in Front of the Entrance
We left Metz quite late and arrived at Fort Casso first at lunchtime. So the first thing we did was to eat our food we had with us – a baguette with fried eggs. There were a few wooden tables directly in front of the main entrance to the fort, meaning that we had a great view while eating our lunch. We were also greeted by one of the caretakers of the fort. He was preparing the fort for its opening a few hours later. Sadly we did not have time to wait for the guided tour at 3 pm.
Fort Casso: a Lucky Visit
After we had finished our lunch, Little A started to request her own food break. While Susann was taking care of that I headed off to explore the area. Once I reached the second visible part of the fort, I met the caretaker again. He was heading into this part for some maintenance and he invited me to join. It’s hard to decline such an opportunity. We continued down in the bunker and he showed me several of the different compartments. It was like a mini tour of the fort. Instead of being shown a bigger part of the fort, with the underground tunnels, I received a private tour of a small part. I must say that I really appreciated his time and enthusiasm. Sadly I never asked for his name.
So, which was the most interesting part? It’s difficult to decide between the turret or the room with the machine guns overlooking the plains. The fort is really well kept and there are so many interesting relics left from the time it was in use.
We left Fort Casso a bit later than planned, but I’m for sure not complaining. We hope that the fort will continue to receive more visitors so that the volunteers are able to keep the fort open to the public. All in all, we really wish them the best of luck with their great work.