Paris Le Bourget and Dugny museum visits
The main aviation museum in Paris is the Musée de l’air et de l’espace situated at Le Bourget airport. This is a major collection housed across a number of Galleries as well as the old terminal building. A number of the aircraft and space vehicles are located outside, and visitors to the Salon will have regularly seen many of these exhibits. Over on the other side of the airfield is the Dugny museum storage area, which houses a large number of exhibits, in various states of storage and restoration, and it is this site that is of particular interest as it is only open to the public on one day each year.
So, mid October 2013 saw a group of us depart the UK at early o'clock for a day trip to Paris, via EuroTunnel. Arriving in the Paris area around dawn, a quick drive around Charles de Gaulle airport to pick up some Armee de l'Air VIP transport types then on to Le Bourget for a look at the various exotic Government and Military bizjets present for maintenance or visiting.
A free bus service from the main museum across to Dugny runs throughout the day, or car parking is available at the Dugny site, so it is easy to plan a flexible visit to take in both sides. We started off at Dugny, as the weather looked like it may cloud over later in the day, and arrive there shortly after opening time to join a reasonable turnout of visitors.
Many of the small garage/shed type buildings contain aircraft and other exhibits in various states of storage, some very long term, and many are dismantled and wrapped up under protective sheeting. Further along are the workshops of the Ailes Anciennes Ile de France who undertake restoration of airframes, often to an amazingly high standard, including some very rare (often unique) aircraft types.
Some larger aircraft are also kept in long term outside storage in this area, many of which have been here for a number of years.
In a central area, a number of aircraft were presented in outside static areas, these comprised a number of well restored aircraft which have yet to take their turn in the main public museum on the South side. Also here is another outside storage area, which has aircraft that are yet to be restored, or have had their turn in the main museum and are requiring further attention, or are available for exchange with other museums.
There are also three large hangars in this area. One contains the Short Sandringham under long term restoration, along with a number of other smaller aircraft, and a large collection of engines. Another hangar has a good restoration workshop, and contains aircraft undergoing current work. Finally, a large hangar is used generally for storage, and for restoration work on some of the larger airframes. It is also packed with aircraft kept in decent conditions to prevent them deteriorating further.
Following the wander around Dugny, we headed back across to the main museum. As well as the main public halls, there a couple of storage hangars at the end, which house a number of aircraft including new arrivals, those not yet ready to go on public display, or those awaiting their turn at restoration.
The main public halls are generally split into themes, and aircraft are displayed in there relevant hall, rather than just scattered around in a haphazard fashion. There are also outside exhibits, a few of which are offered some protection under "sun shade" type shelters.
Further information including more detailed and up to date listings can be found at the links below:-