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 !
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