Villenoy – Air-Raid Shelter
Unusual construction, witness of Villenoy’s history during World War II
Villenoy – Air-Raid Shelter - Villenoy
Noticeable from the back of the city hall’s park, this 18 meters cone-shaped building was built between 1938 and 1940, just before World War II in order to protect the staff of Villenoy’s sugar refinery from the bombs that could be dropped by enemy jets on the factory or the nearby train tracks.
About a hundred persons – including residents from the Aristide Briand street – could take refuge inside, most notably during the two alerts of 1944. Children slept in the shelter. It was the siren from Meaux’s city hall or the bell from the house of the refinery’s director that warned from incoming airstrikes.
In France, the air-raid shelter of Villenoy is unique. More than 80 years after its construction it bears witness to the lives of Villenoy and the Meaux region residents at a particularly tragic era that has to be remembered. It is part of our heritage.
Started in September 2011 under the impulse of François Daveau, restoration work financed by the city have been continued throughout 2013. Thanks to the intervention of the company Altissur, the outside walls of the cone-shaped shelter look almost brand new. Extensive interior works allow visitors to imagine themselves waiting for the end of an airstrike alert like in 1944.
Group tours are regularly organized between the 8th of May and the 11th of November, but also on the week-end of the European Heritage Days.
The uniqueness of this unusual building, witness of Villenoy’s history makes it an appealing monument for hiker groups of the region, or History association and World War II enthusiasts