One of four 669s of the inland battery at Pleumeur-Gautier. Absolutely beautiful.
Tomorrow an inside view..
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.
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.
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.