About Fort Vallorbe
Fort Vallorbe, also known as Fortress Vallorbe and the Pre-Giroud Military Fort, was a World War Two artillery fort which had great strategic importance defending the Col de Jougne Pass as well as the Swiss-French border. Above ground, all that is seen of Fort Vallorbe are 3 buildings – underneath is another story.
Fort Vallorbe history
Construction of Fort Vallorbe began in 1937 and was completed in 1941. Hewn out of the surrounding rock, Fort Vallorbe was built into a network of underground tunnels including accommodation, a hospital and munitions storage, all with air filtration. These self-sufficient bunkers accommodated up to 200 men by 1945.
The fort covered the Swiss end on the Mont d’Or railroad tunnel and the Joux valley, and was armed with three artillery blocks for 75mm guns and two machine gun blocks. All were camouflaged; the artillery blocks as rock formations and the machine gun blocks as houses. Deactivated as a military post in the 1980s, ever since Fort Vallerbe has been operated as a museum.
Fort Vallorbe today
Today, the bunkers can be visited during the summer and offer a variety of exhibits about Fort Vallorbe, its past and for the military history enthusiast, its weaponry including missile launchers, machine guns and cannons. Inside, the main lift still works and the bunkers look poised to welcome 200 soldiers once again. Just remember to dress up warmly as even in the heat it can get quite cold within the fort itself.
Outside, the huge artillery guns still swivel around. Use the telescopic sight to aim them across the valley.
Getting to Fort Vallorbe
For those driving, Fort Vallorbe is just off Switzerland’s motorway 9 at La Day. The steep road leading to the fort is well signposted and the views of the valley cannot fail to impress. Make sure to check the times and dates of tours in advance and be aware that the drive up from Vallorbe takes a little while so leave enough time to get there.
Otherwise, you can get the train into La Day station and walk or get a taxi up to the fort.