From June 3 to August 31, 2019, the municipality of Mondeville celebrates peace. The Védie quarry, the refuge of the population at the height of the bombing of the summer of '44, is unveiled to the public on June 15.
A region caught in a whirlwind
The Caen region has been in the spotlight since the kick-off of the 75th anniversary celebrations of D-Day. Visits from the statesmen of the whole world, the Memorial in ceremonial dress, celebrating the veterans and the record affluence of the public ... Mondeville has not been left out. It inaugurates the festivities by visiting a quarry on rue des Roches. The Védie quarry is the highlight of the show. After two years of rehabilitation, it is ready to welcome schoolchildren from Mondeville and Caen and to open for a wider audience for one day only on June 15. The success of the operation attests to the population's attachment to its memory heritage and is part of the duty of memory in which the Normandy region is strongly involved.
An archaeological conservatory
Allied bombing is intense from 6 June '44. The city of Caen is pounded relentlessly to slow down the Germans. Barns, stables, cellars and hundreds of hectares of underground quarries are safe havens for the population in danger. 20,000 civilians hid in the quarries of Caen. The most beautiful, the quarry of the Saingt brewery, is located in Fleury-sur-Orne. Two hectares of underground galleries recently penetrated by archaeologists have delivered a rich inventory. This new look at the hidden face of the war informs us about the violence at the end of the Battle of Normandy. The quarries located under the Plateau sheltered nearly 9000 Caennais and La Védie was home to 500 and 600 people who hid there from June 6 to July 12.
A chilling immersion
Imagine a 1,900-square-meter (20,045 sq. ft.) gallery excavated in the old stone quarry of Caen. On the walls of this archaeological curiosity, no wall drawings but sawdust on the ground and a multitude of objects left by the cooped-up masses. No flint or bones but the most poignant remnants of everyday life: a bottle of nail polish, broken dishes, a bottle of cough syrup, a children's magazine and newspapers, as well as shoes, soles, combs and scissors. The routine seems frozen in these damp and cold places along corridors 10 meters (33 ft.) high and hundreds of meters long. We can imagine the starving population, tired by years of deprivation and terrified by the unceasing bombardment. It is necessary nevertheless to organize daily life, to distribute tasks and to stick together in the face of danger. Emotions run high and victory lies at the end of the road.
Celebrate freedom regained
All summer, the neighborhoods of Mondeville will celebrate peace. Exhibitions, conferences, shows, balls, meals and finally fireworks on August 31st. Mondeville's regained freedom engages many volunteers, inhabitants and associations. These quarries are private property. Faced with such a success, the owners Kelly and Sebastien Tesnière are considering re-opening the Védie for the 76th anniversary of the D-Day landing in 2020.
Photo: City of Mondeville
The housing solution in Caen
The Smartappart residential hotel has just opened a second establishment in the city of Caen. Located in the heart of the city, the residence offers furnished and connected apartments that are an economical alternative to hotels. From studios to one-bedrooms, they are suitable for any type of stay: short, medium or long-term and rates are discounted starting from two nights.