Musee de la Liberation
WW2 museum based inside historic Cherbourg fortress
Location and info
Fort du Roule, Monument des Résistants, 50100 Cherbourg-en-Cotentin
Located just off the D900 road into the centre of Cherbourg at the top of Montagne du Roule. Follow the signs to the museum from the main road, driving up the winding mountain track and park at the top.
Standing high on the prominent mountain overlooking the city and port of Cherbourg is a formidable complex of gun casemates and bunkers interconnected by a large tunnel network cut into the rock. The site was originally a Napoleonic fort completed in 1853 originally used by the French Navy but it became the headquarters of the German’s ‘Fortress Cherbourg’ following the occupation of France in mid-1940. It was recaptured by the US 79th Infantry Division on June 25, 1944.
Today the site is a mix of public and military land with an excellent, accessible ‘Liberation’ museum located where the fort once stood.
Opened in 1954, the Liberation Museum was one of the first Second World War museums established in Normandy and stands 117m above sea level and standing in the courtyard inside the fort offers you incredible views over the city and port.
Inside you walk through three floors and 11 different rooms of exhibits tracing the occupation, the French resistance, the D-Day landings, and the liberation of Cherbourg with original items including maps, documents, uniforms, weapons, and even a Goliath demolition vehicle.
Some of the personal items on show take you to the heart of what life would have been like under German rule.
There are also lots of interactive displays throughout the museum, and in multiple languages, making it a must-visit for all those interested in WW2 on any trip to Cherbourg. The 5 Euro entry fee (free on Wednesdays) makes it one of the best-value museums in Normandy.
The underground tunnel system below the museum it worth a visit too. Created in March and April 1944, there are four special construction R671 casemates and observation/fire control post on the edge of the cliff top accessed via tunnels.
This system can be accessed via a pre-arranged guided tour only and will involve you donning a hard hat and headtorch and agreeing to a list of important safety measures.
The Batterie du Roule underground system - which you enter via a small opening protected by a machine gun position - features over 1km of excavated tunnels, all carved out by hand. Along the routes to the casemates are different sized galleries, two for the generator and ventilation systems, an original water tank stand in another, plus there are 5m wide galleries for ammunition storage and 10m wide areas inside where wooden huts were constructed for troop accommodation.
There are some amazing hidden gems to be seen as you walk through the tunnels, and we strongly recommend you experience a tour of the Batterie du Roule. Get in contact with our friend Cyrille via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.exspen.com for more details.