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named after the French Minister of War André Maginot, was a line of concrete fortifications, obstacles, and weapons installations that France constructed just before the border with Switzerland and the borders with Germany and Luxembourg during the 1930s.
The French established the fortification to provide time for their army to mobilize in the event of attack, allowing French forces to move into Belgium for a decisive confrontation with Germany.
While the fortification system did prevent a direct attack, it was strategically ineffective, as the Germans invaded through Belgium, going around the Maginot Line.
Optional Excursion from Strasbourg
We opted to go off the beaten path on the road less traveled to the Maginot Line. The other choice for afternoon touring was a visit to the wine country of Alsace, France. Since we'd have our fill of wine during dinners throughout the cruise, and since we'd see many vineyards along the Moselle River, having a live history lesson appealed to us. The tour was very informative, with a local guide providing the commentary.
What to Expect
Once you enter the tunnels, the temperature drops dramatically, which for us was quite welcome due to the unusual heat wave in Europe this year. You'll be inside the fortification for a couple hours, so if you are prone to chill easily, you'll want to take a jacket, sweater, or other warm covering. It is also dark and damp.
I had a walking stick from the ship and was able to traverse the stairs, even with my bad knee. I would not recommend the tour if you have extreme difficulty walking or with stairs.
There is a small museum, which you can explore at the end of the tour. The ticket window has a few souvenirs that can be purchased. Don't forget some money for the tour guide, since he really makes the tour interesting.
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