The Nazi Bunkers on the Coast of Medoc

Some of you may have wandered the coast of Medoc, or on other beaches along the Continental Europe coast and noticed REALLY big and heavy blocks of concrete and wondered, what is that? They are the left over pieces of the Nazi Atlantic Wall.

IMG_1864From the Wikipedia page it would seem not much is left over from the wall. The wall was never completed and in the case of the Medoc beaches there were only bunkers. Yet on the Medoc beaches most of them are in one piece. To appreciate the hugeness of these things consider that my wife is 5’3.5″ or 1.62m tall.

DSC_0131 IMG_1831 IMG_1814I was not born anywhere near the time of the WW2, and while I know the story of WW2 I cannot appreciate what it meant. Looking at the bunkers while we walk our dogs I get an appreciation of what might and did happen. I like seeing the bunkers as it is a piece of history that is not getting lost due to time. However I am both sad and happy at the same time. I am sad of what the bunker represents, but I am happy that the artists of today have such a big canvas to do their beautiful art.

Here is a trivia question, are the bunkers in the same location as when they were built?

Answer, no, the beaches are in constant movement and as one of the locals has said to me they were on dunes and further away from the ocean. He says 30 meters higher on a dune. Me, I don’t know, but that makes me realize just how powerful nature is.

How I Arrived In Medoc

Me landing in Medoc is not a stretch of the imagination if you consider my background and life. I resemble my mother, and that means Francophone, Italian lineage. My siblings resemble my father who is classic Germanic lineage. Though I was born in Germany I have never been crazy about beer. I remember back in grade three my parents had a dinner party in Canada. They served, beer, hard liquor, and wine. It was the red wine that I liked the most. My birth place Nassau (not Bahamas) is a German wine region. And then throughout high school I was always interested in French Canadian women. Simply put I have always have had a love of things Francophone and I adored France while living on the Cote D’Azur.

Here is Where the Story Becomes Long

For our retirement our idea was to create vacation rental properties and treat it as a business. That idea was not a stretch of the imagination for me since for most of my life I have lived in tourist  places (eg Fenelon Falls, Cote D’Azur, etc). I know what tourism implies and how to deal with it since my summer jobs (when I was not in Germany) were tourist related.

In 2014 we decided to find a place to build this business. So it would seem obvious that we want to be in France, right? No, actually we decided against it. We decided for Italy. Specifically we focused on the Abruzzo Region of Italy.

DSC_0520The people are wonderful, the food is fantastic, and the country side is beautiful.

DSC_0494 DSC_0526We even found a lovely property with a lovely view (The clouds are covering the mountain in the previous picture).

DSC_0009Ok we found a ruin that I could renovateDSC_0004Now things become comical.

The ruin was the right size, the property was the right size, and we liked the price. The next step was to purchase the property, and we asked “can we buy this property?” This is how the conversation went, please add shrugging shoulders, and the typical Italian accent.

Us: What are the dimensions of the property?

Them: It depends.

Us: It depends?

Them: Yes, it depends because we would need to know what you want to buy.

Us: What do you mean what we want to buy?

Them: Well you like the ruin, right?

Us: Yes

Them: We just found out right now that the ruin does not entirely belong to the property. You only get half.

Us: Half?

Them: Yes, half.

Us: So if we were to renovate, we would only get half the ruin and thus half of the ruin would remain a ruin?

Them: Yes, but you could also buy that other half.

Us: Who owns the other half.

Them: It depends, right now we are thinking it is the Uncle, but it might be the Aunt, or Great Uncle. We would need to figure that out.

It was not only this property where the size, owner and other attributes “magically” appeared or disappeared. I decided to ask an architect about this and he replied with, yes you guessed it, “it depends”.

I like Italy, it is awesome, but the legally, wow, it’s complicated.

France it is…

France was our final destination after Spain and Portugal. Each of those countries failed like Italy, but on different issues like water in Spain, or remoteness in Portugal. I looked at various regions and decided on Bordeaux. The first property that we wanted to purchase was in a village called Villefranche-de-Lonchat.

DSC_0187In the photo that vineyard and very old castle from nearly a thousand years ago were our neighbors. Take into account the picture was taken in the middle of winter when it was 1C you get the idea that life could be awesome. We were sold! Absolutely sold! The nearby lake (walking distance) was the cherry on the top.

But I am one to not just look at things once. Namely before I make any decision I try wild card ideas to validate whether or not my train of thought is correct. My wild card idea was Medoc. I thought, why not, I am in the area and hence take a few hours and see what there is.

Wow, was I shocked. It was not just about the beaches, but it is about everything; beaches, water, wine, country side, food, and the list goes on.

DSC_0026 DSC_0071 IMG_1844IMG_1801IMG_1868I arrived…