Stories

World War II Bunker turns into music centre for musicians of this French town

Bayeux, France Travel January 16 @ 10:44pm

This is a story of how a quaint little town of Bayeux, France turned a World War II hospital for German soldiers, built during the Normandy invasion of France, in 1944, into a place for musicians to rehearse.
Some years ago, the musicians of the city needed a place to practice, and the city of Bayeux and the culture department of Normandy came together to ensure that they got one. In the dearth of a good place for musicians to practice without disturbing their neighbours, the city came up with the idea of turning a World War II bunker made of reinforced concrete into a studio. Hence 'Musikoblokos' was born in the year 2000.
With the charisma of the old batiment and the Second World War linked to it, the musicians of the city flocked to practice here and embraced the place whole-heartedly and made it their own.
The city of Bayeux spent a good amount of money (around 1000 euros, and counting) to make the place suitable for musicians, and though there are a number of new studios in the city, this "bunker" or "blokos" remains one of the hottest places for musicians to practice for their gigs, even 20 years later.

In this time of the pandemic, when France is mulling over a third lockdown, the musicians at the blokos are also struggling to make ends meet. They are trying to get back to normal by allowing bands to practice, but for a smaller amount of time at the moment. The can be an interesting read from the angle that how France has made a World War II building into a muis centre, removing all the negative influences it would have otherwise brought. It is a creative use of space and speaks volumes about the French and their culture to spread love, which can be a story for readers of NatGeo.

The organisation charges a nominal amount of fee to allow bands to rehearse here and with all required equipment and instruments, the city bands find it the best possible place to practice.
They also keep hosting music festivals in the summers to make the location more popular among the citizens, but all festivals have been put off until April this year because of the pandemic and the subsequent restrictions.

It's certainly a diamond in the rough that not many people know about. It's the perfect blend of the past and the present.

The organisation Musicoblokos has kept the unique features of the original building alive for its rustic charm. One can see the old ceiling in some parts, two old ventilators for circulation of air and two thick iron doors that are too heavy to move.

I can get in touch with the current and former presidents of the Musikoblokos and the city culture department for interviews and quotes on 5Ws and 1H.
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