It is now possible to sleep in a military bunker in Finistère, Brittany, after a local couple converted the former hideout into comfortable accommodation.
Previously a restricted military site, the location is now open to the public, for those seeking an unusual and historical place to stay, after a renovation by Serge and Virginie Colliou.
A World War Two bunker, built by German troops after invading France in 1940, has turned into a guesthouse. Serge Colliou bought up a plot of land in the area and spent 18 months renovating the 4,300 square foot bunker, turning it into a fully-functioning rental pic.twitter.com/OsQjoeJB4X— Reuters (@Reuters) August 24, 2021
It can be rented per night, for eight people, from €320. It can also be hired in its entirety for parties, with a capacity for 25 people, with a guardian on-site, from €1,480 per night.
The L479 bunkers are located near Saint-Pabu, a few metres from the Corn ar Gazel beach. They were constructed in 1943.
The buildings were used during World War Two as accommodation for German army commanders, and are just some of the fortification systems constructed along the European coast by the Third Reich during the conflict.
About 12,000 were built along the Atlantic coast, from Norway to the French Basque country, between 1942 and 1944.
Serge Colliou told local news site Côté Brest: “Reserved for officers, it was the decision-making centre for the entire north coast of Finistère.”
A total of 13 bunkers were built, but only this one has been renovated so far.
The couple has been living in Saint-Pabu for more than 10 years. They discovered the bunker by chance, after buying a parcel of land on which the bunkers are located, for €35,000, in 2017.
Mr Colliou said: “We didn’t buy a bunker, we bought the land. But the thing about Saint-Pabu is that the bunkers are located on private property.
“We already had a bunker in our garden, an anti-aircraft battery of around 60m2, which we had already renovated.”
The L479 bunker was a much larger challenge. It is spread over 400m2 across two storeys and 24 rooms, and had lain abandoned for 70 years. Part of it is 12 metres below the surface. The renovation took 18 months of work.
Mr Colliou said: “The hardest thing was digging it up, as it had been filled in and camouflaged. Then to clean it. It took eight people two months, working full time.”
Now, it has a living room (the former ‘map room’), a bedroom (the former communications room), and the operations centre is now a ‘hammock room’ with hammocks for sleeping and relaxing. There is also a dormitory, a smoking room, and even a prison cell.
There is also a kitchen and two bathrooms.
“It’s not a museum, but there are little touches [of the past],” said Mr Colliou.
Decor includes replicas of weapons, old telephones, and metal cabinets. Photos of the bunker’s former state and use are also displayed.
The couple has found that bookings come from across France, and have even come from abroad too. Businesses have also been interested.
“It’s a unique experience,” said Mr Colliou, “For people who love history, it’s the best.”
All images from Bunker-L479.com.