Bunker L479: a WWII bunker transformed into an Airbnb in France

By Reuters

A bunker built by German troops in northern France during World War II 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 Brittany coast, concrete bunkers are half-buried along the sandy beaches in an area that once served as a radar station.

Serge Colliou bought land around one of them and spent 18 months digging and renovating the 400 square meter (4,300 square feet) structure into a rental for up to eight people, with bar and lounge.

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

“We wanted to give the building a second life, so we’re not going to live in the past forever. We’ve saved some aspects, you know where you are, there are historical clues, but it’s not a museum either.

Wartime touches in the L479 bunker include helmets, reproduction weapons, and signs on the walls.

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.

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