The Winchester

"Not all those who wander are lost" – Tolkien

Caserne Montlaur – Corsica – October 2010

with 2 comments

Quite a grey set of buildings really, Caserne Montlaur. Perched on top of a rocky outcrop in a small city of 3,000 on a French island about the size of South Wales. Population of the island? About the same as Reading. No wonder the population is depleted. Theres no work on the island unless you fancy running a restaurant or hotel, and as such, more than three times of the population of Corsica has left it to seek work on mainland France. You like abandonment? We’ve got a whole island for you here.

We left Porto-Vecchio on our last day of my sister’s farewell trip: 6 days after returning from Corsica, she will be moving to Australia. Quite what we said to upset her, I don’t know. Bonifacio was our destination this day, so we drove 60km across beautiful countryside, past the Spar supermarket and the closed down Citroen dealership, up past the Citadelle and the furthest part south we could find before we’d drive off the cliff.

The French Foreign Legion was based here from 1963 until the mid nineties, moving up the island to Calvi, the capital. Montlaur was small, cramped and quite basic really.

Not quite reached full dereliction yet, part of the site was used by a garage, the former parade ground was now a car park. The site was walk in, despite the big fences on several parts, it looked like the locals had liberated the space since the barracks closed in the early nineties. The best part of Montlaur was the kitchens/mess hall. Covered in murals assumedly drawn by soldiers returning from tours of duty, the colours were strong and the images intense. The feeling in this room was that it was one where a lot of pride was fostered.

[Bunifaziu is the Corsican spelling of Bonifacio. Across the island, many dual language road signs have had the French scrawled out]

Other than the murals, this site was largely uninteresting. What the murals did was bring some identity to the walls, as we found in other barracks like Vogelsang and Keszyca Lesna. I took the family along; my dad was enthralled by the murals, suggesting they should be preserved as some sort of museum exhibit. The number of times that thought has crossed my head is lost, but it’s a common sentiment. What makes these special is  that they have to be sought out, the context comes from the derelict surroundings, and the lack of preservations speaks volumes about the lack of attachment the authorities have towards what is kept. Losing these remnants is part of the passage of time, and the changes society experiences.

Written by Winch

October 3rd, 2010 at 2:55 pm

Posted in Dereliction

2 Responses to 'Caserne Montlaur – Corsica – October 2010'

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  1. Brilliant stuff as usual Winch. Your style is refreshing from the norm…


    5 Oct 10 at 3:13 pm

  2. Great post.


    16 Apr 15 at 2:44 am

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