Bunkersite.com travelled to Saint-Nazaire; again. After visits by Lenco in 1999 and 2002 and some additions by Henk Adriaanse in 2005 I wanted to see this formidable Festung myself.

We wanted to update the website with new pictures, but also add new finds. In ten years much has happened in the Saint-Nazaire region. Mainly due to its world leading role in cruise ship building and the existance of an Airbus factory, the city is rapidly growing and there’s new development everywhere. The new city center is projected around the huge U-Boot bunker. The city council doesn’t really have an eye for history and it looks they wanted to demolish the UBB, but fortunately for everyone, this thing is still impregnable.

They get stuck too. (Photo: Arthur van Beveren)

They get stuck too. (Photo: Arthur van Beveren)


Of the fourteen U-Boot ‘boxes’, nine were completely stripped, and the back walls were destroyed to make it open on the street side and create a connection with the water. A tourist attraction, being a step back in to the time of the great Ocean steamers, is one of the new functions of the boxes. Further more there are shops, cafes, offices, an art gallery and a music studio. An elevator goes directly to the roof and a new bridge leads from street level to the top. In the future the roof will be converted to a public park which in my opinion is one of the few good things about the re-use of the big bunker.
One thing however which they can’t get rid of are the thousands of pigeons who are occupying this, until recently deserted, area. They’re really everywhere, and also shitting everywhere. It’s a real plague, and to make it a fun place for vistors to be, they should be eradicated first, instead of the war time relics.


This year we’ve travelled along the coast from Pointe d’Halguen at the Vilaine river mouth to Le Pointeau. The coast on the west part, the Turballe area in the German ordnance, is a nice and quiet coast with small pittoresque villages, some sandy beaches and rocky Pointes. In the south it goes around the corner at Le Croisic and after Batz-sur-Mer some real mass tourism can be found in La Baule, where the coastline is filled with appartment buildings. But if you drive one block inland you’ll encounter the greatest villas from around 1900; La Baule has been a luxurious holiday destination for quite some time now. Then there’s a quieter area before the city of Saint-Nazaire emerges. The coast is mainly occupied by industry. The Pont de Saint-Nazaire since 1975 spans the Loire river which brings you to the southern part of the Festung.

Tumulus of Dissignac. (Photo: Arthur van Beveren)

Tumulus of Dissignac. (Photo: Arthur van Beveren)

International connections

Internet is a great place to be and without it was harder to meet all these bunker enthousiastics from around Europe. At le Grand Blockhaus, the museum at Batz-sur-Mer, I met Luc Braeuer, one of the two brothers who started the museum and Alain Durrieu, writer of Des bunkers et des hommes, a book about what Jan Bueninck started calling ‘Bunkerart’; frescos, texts etc. I only knew them from the French Atlantikwall Superforum so it was fun to meet them in person. Alain told me he’s working on a second book with even more new photos of new found frescos.
I must congratulate Luc (and his brother Marc) with their museum. It’s one of the main tourist attractions in the region and thousands of people visit this place every year. For a German bunker that is impressive. What I like about the museum is the personal touch to it. Not only showing what a bunker looked like, but a lot of personal stories of both German and Allied soldiers, but also from civilians. Their memories from that time and items they’ve found in the Poche de Saint-Nazaire make it a visit worth the only €6 entrance fee.
I also met William Meignen, local bunker hunter and writer of the recently published book about Fort de l’Eve. He’s also one of the authors of the website about the Festung which is very extensive. “I’m quicker than your TomTom” he said several times, and he was. Especially in the bush of inland battery Heinrich.


Keep an eye on Bunkersite.com because there will be some major updates on Saint-Nazaire. For now, a small photo impression of the last two weeks.

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The l’Association Opale Bunker History gives a tour along the bunkers on Mont Saint-Frieux near Hardelot.

The tour starts at 10 am on Thursday 13 May. Costs: €3.

Tour de Mont Saint Frieux

Tour de Mont Saint Frieux

The local government of Wissant on the 23th of March decided to demolish the bunkers on the southern beach of the town. It was the French state who feels the bunkers are a danger to the coastal protection and to visitors of the beach. Total costs of the demolition: €450.000.

The ruins pose too much of threat to the thousands of visitors each year. “Three years ago we’ve had a fatal accident when a boy fell from a bunker”, mayor of Wissant Bernard Bracq explains. According to him the bunkers also speed up the process of coastal erosion.

Local citizens are afraid the erosion will be more extensive when the bunkers have disappeared. They also think it’s part of Wissant, they know the concrete structures from back in their youth. But Bracq thinks “they don’t belong in a natural site” anyway: “the bunkers have nothing to do in the Bay of Wissant”.

With the demolition of Stp Pommern another important site in the north-west of France disappears. Also at St Cécile and Fort Mahon bunkers were demolished long after the end of the war and it makes you think if it’s not just a cosmetical move to make the beach look better for tourists.

Source: La Voix du Nord via Atlantikwall Superforum

Edit 11 April: Thanks to Hervé for his comment.

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The first phase for the renovation of a 4.7cm Festungpak casemate in Gujan-Mestras (bording the Bassin d’Arcachon in the south west of France) has started.

The Groupe de Recherches Archéologiques sur le Mur de l’Atlantique Secteur Arcachon (GRAMASA), a local group of bunker enthusiastics, will first clear the outside of the bunker and make it visible. Then the entrance will be secures and all pipes and drains cleaned. In co-operation with the Office du Tourism there will be guided walks along the canal and the bunker. Works should be done before the summer season.

The 506b of Wn Ar 234 at Gujan-Mestras. (Photo: GRAMASA)

The 506b of Wn Ar 234 at Gujan-Mestras. (Photo: GRAMASA)

The Festungsflammenwerfer or Festungsnahkampf Gerät was a ferocious weapon which was built only two times in the Atlantikwall. Ba 70 Alex posted a report on the French Atlantikwall forum.

The Germans built an extensive tunnel system with bunkers (120, M 152) on the Plateau de l’Atalaye in Biarritz. The positions, designated Ba 39 and 40, also housed the two fortress flamethrowers. A unique construction and finally there are some clear photos online. More info on the FN Gerät in English. In Panzerwerk 720 of the Oder-Warthe-Bogenlinie an FN Gerät remains.

The armoured tube (type 420P9) in the underground bunker of Ba 39. (Photo: Ba 70 Alex)

The armoured tube (type 420P9) in the underground bunker of Ba 39. (Photo: Ba 70 Alex)

Thanks to my correspondent in the Calais area Olejniczak Hervé
Not a lot of happy news lately. This time it’s Le Touquet (Paris Plage), where a Vf bunker on the golf course has to make room for a new clubhouse.

It’s uncertain if there will ever be a new clubhouse. Sylvain Gouz, of the ASFD for conservation of the woods and dunes of the Côte d’Opale, already opposed to the plan saying “the new structure will be environmental hostile in these dunes”.

But another the bunker has disappeared..

Thanks to my correspondent in the Calais area Olejniczak Hervé
The well known naval Batterie Oldenburg near Calais is going to loose some of its bunkers to a new hunting terrain! Anywhere else this sounds crazy but apparently hunting is still big in France.

Since the first week of december, bird hunting lakes and observation cabins are being built in front of the huge gun casemates of the battery. This is to compensate the closure of hunting areas on the Platier d’Oye more north. The personnel bunker 621, garage 629 and a naval personnel bunker of the battery will disappear under sand.


Earlier this year, there were some speculations the battery was about to disappear in total because of Calais’ harbour expension in 2015, but fortunately these proved to be untrue. Now some things will change.

621 bunker for personnel of Bt Oldenburg (Photo: Henk Adriaanse)

621 bunker for personnel of Bt Oldenburg (Photo: Henk Adriaanse)

629 garage for gun of Bt Oldenburg (Photo: Arthur van Beveren)

629 garage for gun of Bt Oldenburg (Photo: Arthur van Beveren)

Last november, a bunker for machine gun (type 634) was demolished in the French city and former Festung St Nazaire. After the war the Sechsschartenturm was scrapped but the bunker of Stützpunkt Nz 313 was left in place. Due to new housing developments the bunker had to be broken down. The works took 2 weeks and a small part of the bunker was spared.

Instructions inside

Instructions on ammunition usage inside the bunker. (Photo: kreuz44)

Through the French Atlantikwall Forum I read the sad news that the very special 4.7cm Festungspak 36 (t) in a 612 at Kerbascuirl near Plouhinec (south of Bretagne) has disappeared.
Although it was a miracle the gun was still there after so many years it’s still very disappointing. At the moment there’s no info on who removed the gun.

The gun from Czech origin was brought from Czech fortifications in large quantities after the German annexation of Sudetenland in 1938. The ‘4cm kanon Škoda vz.36’ was renamed to the german 4.7cm Festungspak 36 (t) and special Regelbauten were built for it (139, 506). In the Atlantikwall the gun was widely used and new Regelbauten (642, 631/631B) replaced the older ones, although the old Regelbauten were still built too. Besides the St bunkers, a large amount of Vf bunkers were built for the gun. These structures differed in shape and layout from region to region.
The example in Kerbascuirl was unique in that the gun was placed in a 612 casemate which is a regular bunker for a field gun. The Festungspak was strangely mounted and still had its protective shield and ‘Kugelkopf’.

Addition 24 May 2021

Twelve years later, by a funny coincedence, I found out through the Wikipedia page about the weapon, that this example is now located in the Czech fort MO S-5 „Na trati” near Bohumin in the Czech Republic. So it’s back to its ‘original owner’, although I don’t know if this specific cannon was among the first batch in 1937 which was actually built in.

Festungspak, Plouhinec.

The gun on its mount in 2005 (Photo: Arthur van Beveren)

The restauration project at Cherbourg’s Fort du Roule are coming to an end. The tunnels will be opened on June 6 (65 years since D-Day) but due to some extra work the official opening will be on the June 26, the day Cherbourg was liberated.
Fort du Roule was a French fort overlooking the city of Cherbourg. During the war the Germans built a 10.5cm battery into the rocks, with tunnels cut out in the rocks, interconnecting each 671 gun casemate. About a year ago works started on cleaning the tunnels and renovating the bunkers. The total project costed around one million euros of which more than 600.000 was funded by private companies. 180 companies from the Cherbourg region participated in the works, for example by doing the electricity and ventilation in the underground tunnels. Students of a technical college did most of the steel work such as tubes and ventilation equipment to original standards.

On the french Atlantikwall forum you can fine more on the progressions.

Official poster of 'Les Galeries' as the new museum will be called.

Official poster of 'Les Galeries' as the new museum will be called.

Photo: J. Baptise

View of Fort du Roule. (Photo: J. Baptise)