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The largest fortress — and one of the first — in the Maginot Line was Fort Hackenberg, which is about 90 minutes from both Kaiserslautern and Bitburg in Germany. It is near the town of Veckring, France.

The fort is open April 1 through Nov. 11 on Saturdays, Sundays and French holidays with tours at 2 p.m. From June 15 until Sept. 15, the fort is also open Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Friday for tours at 3 p.m. From Nov. 12 through March 10, the fort is open on Saturdays for a tour at 2 p.m.

Here are some tips from a recent visit:

• Most navigational systems will take you from the Kaiserslautern area to Veckring via Merzig on Autobahn 8. Once you get off, be prepared to travel a portion of the way along one-lane roads through farm fields. A slightly longer, less adventurous trip would be to take A6 to A620 and exit near Saarlouis.

• The entrance to Hackenberg is on the west edge of Veckring. You can’t miss it; turn at the U.S. Army tank.

• There is one English-language tour at 2 p.m. The fort’s Web site advises visitors to ask for the English tour at the entrance, and if one is not available, a booklet in English will be provided.

• The tour lasts a little more than two hours, and there are no rest rooms inside. (A portion of the tour is outside and there are lots of woods.)

• The temperature inside the fortress is 53 degrees Fahrenheit, so dress appropriately.

• I could find no restaurants in Veckring, but there is a nice French restaurant one village west in Helling. There are lots of picnic tables at the fortress entrance, which seemed to be the most popular choice among the visitors. The closest town is Thionville, about 12 miles west of Veckring.

• For more information, visit


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