Room without a view – French war bunker reborn as a guesthouse

SAINT-PABU, France, August 23 (Reuters) – A bunker built by German troops in northern France during WWII has been restored and refitted as an underground guesthouse.

The north coast is still dotted with fortifications left by the German army, which built a so-called Atlantic Wall in an attempt to repel Allied forces.

In Saint-Pabu, on the Breton coast, concrete bunkers are half-buried along the sandy beaches in an area that once served as a radar station.

Serge Colliou bought a piece of land around one of them and spent 18 months digging and renovating the 400 m² structure, turning it into a rental for up to eight people, with bar and lounge.

“We adapted (the bunker) while still maintaining a certain feel,” said Colliou.

General view shows the entrance to a renovated WWII German bunker converted into a guesthouse for rent on Airbnb, in Saint-Pabu, France, August 19, 2021. REUTERS / Manuel Ausloos

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“We wanted to give the building a second life, so we’re not going to live in the past forever. We saved some aspects, you know where you are, there are historical markers, but neither is it. a museum.”

Keys of war in bunker L479 include helmets, reproduction weapons, and wall signs.

Customers from Germany and France have stayed there since it opened a year ago, Colliou said.

Some mayors have attempted to remove bunkers and other remains from the coastline, in case there is a danger to bathers.

Others in Saint-Nazaire, La Rochelle, Brest and elsewhere have taken steps to restore historic sites.

“We’re starting to preserve these famous bunkers and that’s a good thing, but we can’t save them all,” said Hervé Farrant, a bunker specialist and author who started exploring the structures in the 1980s.

Reporting by Manuel Ausloos, written by Sarah White, editing by Andrew Heavens

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