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The fortification

1874-1879: Villey le sec, a unique town fortified at the end of the nineteenth century!

Following the Franco-Prussian War (Franco-German War) of 1870-1871 resulting in the loss of the Alsace-Lorraine territories, France decided to reorganise the defence of the French frontiers and coasts. A committee, led by General Séré de Rivières, was created to modernise old Vauban fortifications and build them suitable for modern warfare and weaponry. Villey le sec fortification is the standing evidence of the colossal French fortifications network project.

Plan du fort
La Citadelle

Cornerstone of Toul stronghold! One of the particularity of Villey le sec fortification is that it originally surrounded the town with a 3.5 km long enclosure.
It was comprised of four main area; a redoubt or enclosed defensive emplacement, a redan or defensive emplacement opened in the rear, a north and south artillery batteries. It could accomodate 1,300 men garrison and 79 artillery pieces. It once was one of the largest defensive stronghold in France.

1904-1914: The impressive reinforced concrete armour and gun turrets!

Canon de 75mm
La Citadelle

With the introduction of new materials and techniques, notably the introduction of rifled artillery and much more powerful explosives, Villey le sec fortification was overhauled starting 1904. Previous masonry structures were reinforced with concrete, one machine gun and two 75mm gun turrets were added. One of the gun has now been restored and you may witness a blank firing.

La cour
La Citadelle
Pied de la tourelle de 155
La Citadelle

Along with these impressive additions, you will discover the imposing concrete barracks and enjoy the interesting museum dedicated to fortification technics and various war materiel. Several artillery pieces are also on display such as the rare 1879 Hotchkiss revolver cannon. The site also lists a 155mm gun turret, an authentic 200-ton metal monster, the last in existence in northern France.


The site is opened to the public and maintained thanks to volunteers from “La Citadelle” association. The visit will take you through a natural environment with a breathtaking view of the Toul and Woëvre valley.

Le petit train à voie de 0,60m
La Citadelle

You also may want to end your visit with the exquisite tour aboard the scenic train “Le PetitTrain”. The narrow gauge train track of 600mm wide (1 ft ​11 5⁄8 in) [1], is similar to the one used at the time for military supplies.

Canon de 75mm
La Citadelle
  • Route des Fortifications Européennes

  • Le site web de la fortification Séré de Rivières

  • Maison du Tourisme en Pays Terres de Lorraine

  • Tourisme en Meurthe et Moselle

  • Michelin travel guide

  • Trip Advisor

  • Guide du routard