French WW2 bunker reborn as underground guesthouse

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The northern coast still has evidence of fortifications left by the German army, which built up a so-called Atlantic Wall to try to ward off Allied Forces.

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

Serge Colliou bought up a plot of land around one of them and spent 18 months restoring and renovating the 400-square-metre structure. Colliou then turned it into a rental space, complete with bar and living room that caters for up to eight people.

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

“We wanted to give the building a second life, so we are not going to live in the past forever. We saved some aspects, you know where you are, there are historic cues, but this isn’t a museum either.”

Bunker L479 comes complete with added war-time touches, including helmets, reproduction guns and signs on the walls.

Since it opened a year ago, the rental space has accommodated both German and French guests, Colliou said.

Over the years, some mayors have tried to remove bunkers and other remains from the coastline, in case they are a danger to swimmers.

Others in different French locations, such as Saint-Nazaire, La Rochelle and Brest have taken steps to restore the historic sites.

“We are starting to preserve those famous bunkers and it is a good thing, but we cannot save them all,” said Herve Farrant. Farrant is a bunker specialist and author who began to explore the structures in the 1980s.

It comes as another quirky holiday destination for history buffs hits the market in the UK.

A five-storey windmill dates back to the 18th century and is situated equal distance from Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace for visits to the royal households.

The windmill is available on AirBnB from just £140 per night.

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