Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Madhouse diaries : World War 2 Bunkers

This weekend, we had beautiful blue skies and the pollution levels that had resulted in thick "mist" all day Thursday and Friday across the north of France had dropped - something about the warmer weather had created dangerously high "fine particle pollution" at the end of last week, so bad that Paris had to offer free public transport, speed restrictions were put in place on the motorways across the northern regions and a compulsory system was set up whereby only cars with number plates ending in odd numbers could drive today (it was supposed to be even numbers tomorrow but it's been called off because the pollution levels have been reduced) - so we couldn't pass up the opportunity to get out and blow the cobwebs away.

Where better to go than a peaceful walk by the sea? We headed off to the far end of the beach, away from the main touristy area with the promenade and beyond the kite-surf and sand-yachting zone.

This is the area that still houses numerous vestiges of the second world war, most notably the ruins of several concrete bunkers.

We have been here before but Juliette and Pierre were too small to really remember so they wanted to go and investigate them.

They're full of graffiti but I was pleased to see that the smell of wee and broken bottles that I remember from last time have all gone ! They're in remarkably good condition, given their age and history - they were certainly built to last !

I love Pierre's childish innocence - he asked why there were lots of little houses on the beach that nobody lived in.

I always think they look really out of place on this stretch of beautiful sandy beach, backed by rolling dunes.

The bunkers (or "blockhaus" as they're known here) presumably dropped down from the dunes above or maybe the sand has blown away over time, leaving them stranded like beached whale carcasses.

I always think they look quite sinister, even when you don't know the history surrounding them. I wonder what horrors they have seen?

Juliette didn't dwell on any gloomy pondering though, she just loved exploring and discovering these steps that lead to nowhere !

"Look Mum, we're in prison !"

It really does like a jail too !

The beach is strewn with rubble from the bunkers - having seen how much damage was caused further along the beach during the recent storms, it's quite surprising that it's still here.

I mentioned the graffiti but there are also some large murals that have been painted on the sides of some of the bunkers - I'm not sure if they're officially commissioned works of art or just the work of cheeky (but talented) graffiti artists. This one looks like something out of Doctor Who.

And this one reminded me of the plague doctors with their beak-nosed masks.

This one of a soldier with a gas mask looks very sinister ...

... especially in the context of the bunker. It's almost like a glimpse of a ghost, revisiting wartime scenes.

Right, it's all starting to feel a bit sinister and oppressive - time to turn around and take in the beautiful views of the sea instead.

Sophie went checking the washed-up bottles for messages - she didn't find any though !

Then we headed up into the dunes for some exploring of a different nature !

What goes up ...

... must come down !

I love the fact that we have such a variety of things to explore here - wild beauty on one side ...

... and a hands-on history lesson just steps away !

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall  

Other blogposts you may be interested in :

Madhouse Diaries : Carnival Mayhem on the Beach !


  1. I remember visiting some of these as a kid. Those murals are fascinating

    1. They're really cool - not sure if they're supposed to be there or if they're the work of graffiti artists but they really fit in with the atmosphere

  2. oops, I had a good spam-comment clearing session this morning (28000 to delete - eeek !) and apparently deleted some non-spam comments by accident so I'll repost them below - sorry !

  3. Coombe Mill has left a new comment on your post "Madhouse diaries : World War 2 Bunkers":

    My kids would have loved this. It would be a question a minute as they explored every bunkers does as yours have done. What a fascinating visit and beautiful dunes to play in too. A great link up for Country Kids and I hope the pollution levels tumble back down for you all.

  4. spike1 has left a new comment on your post "Madhouse diaries : World War 2 Bunkers":

    That's exactly the kind of place I'd've expected to find gluesniffing stuff when I was a kid, nowadays it'd probably be needles, so best to scout out the place yourself before letting kids play in it.

    1. They were really dodgy a few years back - stank of wee, broken bottles and other unmentionables all over the place - but they were totally clean this time, it was the first thing I checked before I let the kids go in them. I actually wouldn't be surprised if they were totally washed out by the storm surge a couple of months ago - it washed right up over the prom so could easily have come this far up the beach.

  5. Wow fantastic photos and what a great exploration day out together. Just lovely. I wish I had that at my doorstep. So lucky. Thank you ever so much for linking up to Share With Me linky It's so great to get to know other bloggers and their lovely blogs. #sharelinky

  6. What an incredibly eerie yet beautiful place! And what am amazing piece of history...

  7. nice to know the storms did some good. They do look sinister, but as you say built to last. Some of the art work is amazing

  8. I love everything in this place that youve visited! The graffiti, the ruins.. my kind of place to visit for a trip! Looks like you had fun. Im glad the pollution is gone now too. #countrykids

  9. Fascinating! I am history lover, I really want to visit these places.

  10. Same looking sand, dunes and bunkers as we have on the Atlantic coast!

    1. That's exactly what I thought when I saw your photos ! :)