Batterie d'Azeville

Parking

There is a sizeable, free car park at this museum. Sometimes there is also a snack bar with seating.

Toilets

There are toilets avaialble on site.

Gift Shop

There are a few items for sale in the reception area, but not really much of a gift shop.

We were somewhat uncertain about how to approach places like the Azeville Battery and its contemporaries at Maisy, Merville and Crisbecq along with the German radar facility at Douvres-la-Délivrande. These are all significant historic remains and we felt some unease at reviewing and rating them for that reason. However, as each of the locations is privately owned and an entrance fee required for visitation, we have excluded their individual histories from the review process and judged them as dispassionately as possible as if they were any other museum.

Despite the absence of its 155mm guns, the German coastal battery at Azeville is still an impressive complex to visit. It is relatively well preserved, and on some of the bunkers the original camouflage paint can still be seen. You will not find the usual uniforms, weapons and equipment on display here, as the visitor experience relies upon the exploration of the site itself.

The Azeville Battery is not a place for those suffering from claustrophobia. After being issued with an audio device for the self guided tour, visitors embark on a journey through the narrow and dimly lit communication tunnels that link various bunkers and rooms - and even cross beneath the road to an adjacent field. Occasionally, at head height, there are small openings which permit visitors an "ant's eye-view" of the outside world - peering up through blades of grass on the other side of the thick concrete walls. At other stops visitors can climb into one of the "Tobruks" - a defensive machine gun position.

After navigating the more than 300 metres of tunnels, visitors once again go above ground to view the casemates of two different designs (types H650 and H671 in case you were wondering). At our last visit, the first casemate had seen its wartime camouflage re-applied - an attempt by the Germans to make it resemble a typical Norman house, complete with painted-on balcony and windows. The Battery is located far enough inland that it did does have a direct view of the sea - and it had to rely on shooting directions from the nearby battery at Crisbecq.

Another of the casemates was struck by two shells from the USS Nevada on the night of 8th/9th June. One of the 14in shells hit the outside, the result quite visible today, whilst the other entered the casemates firing port. Although this shell was a dud, it breached the internal wall, entered the room behind, bounced off another wall and exited through the rear of the casemate. Despite not exploding, the change in air pressure caused by the shell caused the death of all fifteen soldiers manning the casemate.

There are some elements of the installation that are still buried beneath farmer's fields and hopefully these will to be excavated one day. There is also an interesting short film which you can view after you've returned your audio devices. The Azeville Battery has plenty to see and it is quite different from the batteries at Merville, Crisbecq, Maisy and Longues to be worth the journey. The Crisbec Battery is not far away from Azeville, so it's a good opportunity to see both sites.


Updated: June 2013


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