our selection of unusual places to visit

A German military hospital hidden in a cliff, the railway roundhouse in Chambéry, behind the scenes at the Opéra Bastille... these confidential places to visit during Heritage Days on September 17 and 18.

Looking to the chalk-dug German military hospital

There are discoveries that reveal the deepest secrets of history. About twenty years ago, at Cap Fagnet, enthusiasts roamed the Atlantic Wall - where in 1940, thousands of prisoners of war built a network of blockhouses for radar control and anti-aircraft warfare. During their walk, walkers rediscovered this “German military hospital” whose construction began in 1943. At 110 meters above sea level, the place was dug into the cliff by human hands for one year. Under the thick foliage of nature which has regained its rights, hides one of the three entrances to the premises. A long corridor carved into the limestone leads to three vaulted brick rooms seven meters high. The walls still bear the marks of jackhammers. These cavities still intrigue specialists. The project was to set up a clinic there on the same model as in Jersey, it is said in the region.

Departure of the walk on Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. from the Cap Fagnet car park, Fécamp (76). Bring comfortable shoes and warm clothes. Free.

The Penfret lighthouse in Glénan

To the east of the Glénan archipelago, on the island of Penfret, stands a fort, surmounted by a lighthouse. Designed and built during the first half of the 19th century, the building has been listed as a historical monument since 2015. Two rooms in the fort have been renovated and are the subject of a guided tour. Obviously it will be possible to go up to the gallery of the lighthouse to admire the view of the ocean, but only in small groups of five.

Guided tours on Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. then from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Penfret Island, Glénan Archipelago, Fouesnant (29). Be careful, you have to get to the island by your own means. Information on 06 08 21 05 67. Free.

The Penfret lighthouse on the Glénan archipelago. Didier Grosdemange

The municipal council hall of Saillans

The decor and furniture of this room have been listed in the inventory of historical monuments since 1986. The building was built by the architect Daiz in 1888. The decoration of the council room will only be undertaken ten years later. The painters Joseph Cornillon Barnave, Paul Audra and Léon Eymieu, natives or inhabitants of Saillans, volunteer to carry out the decoration free of charge. Decorated with wood paneling and stained glass, this room is adorned with Louis XIV-inspired seats, a bronze and crystal chandelier as well as busts of Maurice Faure and Antoine Barnave.

Guided tour on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. then from 2.30 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Place Maurice-Faure, Saillans (26). Information on 04 75 21 51 52. Free.

Le Corbusier on the water at Kempf

The small hydraulic structure left abandoned since 1995 was born in the 1960s. At the time, "two engineers keen on the style of Le Corbusier had the nerve to ask the great architect to design the future lock of Kembs-Niffer", told, in April, in our columns Nathalie Kohlmayer. The development manager within the development department of Voies navigables de France (VNF)-Strasbourg also described the pitiful state of the building listed in the inventory of historical monuments. The bare concrete, the hyperbolic paraboloid roof of the administrative building, the undulating panes of glass, the architectural promenade are the synthesis of the architect's style. The mobilization for its restoration was not in vain since the Heritage Foundation and Mission Bern take steps to safeguard it. It is one of those monuments whose visit is a militant act.

One-hour guided tour, Sunday at 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. 12, rue de Schlierbach, Niffer (68). Information on 03 67 07 92 15. Free, on registration.

The lock at Kempf is the only work by Corbusier in eastern France and one of his rare French public commissions. Alexandra Lebon

The reserves of the firefighters' museum in Vaulx-en-Velin

What child has never dreamed of going really close to a fire truck? In this industrial building near Lyon more than 200 vehicles, ladders and hand pumps are kept. The oldest date from the 19the century. On 7000 square meters, the whole history of the fight against fire and other disasters takes shape before our eyes.

Free admission and entertainment on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. 19bis, avenue du Bataillon-Carmagnole-Liberté, Vaulx-en-Velin (69). Information on 04 72 17 54 54. Free.

The Saint-Jean reserve of the diocesan library of Orléans

Rich in 90,000 books, the diocesan library of Orleans offers on the occasion of heritage days to take a tour of its reserves. Books on philosophy, local history, religious sciences, biblical studies and Christian literature are lovingly kept in a room with old woodwork.

Guided tour on Saturday and Sunday every hour, from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. 1, Saint-Aignan cloister, Orleans (45). Information on 06 17 56 95 74. Free.

The historical works of the reserves of Saint-Jean of the diocesan library of Orleans. Orleans Diocesan Library

The Chambéry railway roundhouse

A jewel of industrial architecture in Savoie, the Chambéry railway roundhouse is the largest ever built in France. The imposing metal frame could house up to 72 locomotives. First damaged by bombardments during the Second World War, it was nearly destroyed in the 1980s. It obtained its salvation on December 28, 1984 when the rotunda entered the inventory of monuments historical. In the early 2000s, it was the first railway building to receive the “Monument of the 20th Century” label.

Guided tour on Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. Departs every thirty minutes. 731 chemin de la Rotonde, Chambéry (73). Mandatory registration on chambery.fr.Free.

The Hôtel de Crosne – Administrative Court of Rouen

Unless you have a dispute, it is rare to enter an administrative tribunal. And the Heritage Days are the perfect opportunity to enter these places usually closed to the public. The Hôtel de Crosne is the last testimony to the architecture of the Ancien Régime in Rouen. Completed in 1787, the building was acquired by the State in 1852 for military needs. It was not until 2008 that the mansion was transformed into a court.

Guided tour on Saturday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. 53, avenue Gustave Flaubert, Rouen (76). Reservation required on my.weezevent.com/hotel-de-crosne.Free.

The Hôtel de Crosne has long been used for military purposes. Administrative Court of Rouen

The troglodyte village of Trôo

At the gates of Perche, in the Loir-et-Cher, nestles a small troglodyte village whose grandeur is hidden in its heritage. Six places are classified as historical monuments! The whole town celebrates Heritage Days. A plethora of activities are organized there, including a market, a flea market for the inhabitants, visits of all kinds, in particular to a so-called petrifying cave or demonstrations of local know-how. At XIIe century, Trôo is a stronghold in the county of Maine. Its network of underground galleries had made it a first-class defensive site.

Free visit on Saturday and Sunday September 18, 2022, all day. Troo (41). Information on trootourisme.jimdofree.com.Free.

The small troglodyte city dominates the Loir Valley. Trôo Tourism Association

Backstage at the Opéra Bastille

We do not suspect the richness behind the scenes of the Opéra Bastille. Going behind the thick curtains of the stage could impress more than one! The sets, costumes, workshops, rehearsal rooms and more are hidden there. It is urgent to discover the underside of this tool for producing shows that are unique in the world.

Guided tour on Saturday from 12 p.m. then at 2 p.m. and on Sunday at 7 p.m. Place de la Bastille, Paris (12e). Mandatory registration on operadeparis.fr. Free.

The behind the scenes of the Opéra Bastille stage to discover absolutely during the Heritage Days. Patrick Tourneboeuf / Blurred Tendency

Saint-Joseph de la Grave Hospital in Toulouse

Hospital, places of reception for beggars and the destitute, orphanage... La Grave, as it is called, was built in 1197 on the shore of the Garonne. Symbol of the genesis of the Toulouse health community, the hospital has survived centuries, conflicts and seen pages turn, without ever putting aside the health of the inhabitants of the pink city. Of course, visitors will not be able to see everything about this historic establishment, only the historic square, its interior courtyards, its vaulted rooms and the Tour Taillefer, which was the first asylum in Toulouse.

Free or guided visit on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Place Bernard Lange, Toulouse (31). Free.

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