We woke up early and left our top floor suite at the hotel in Brussels. It was time to drive to France and go to prison so to speak. We had heard a lot about this huge prison and we weren’t sure if the stories were rumors or true. There was a huge gypsy camp outside the main entrance, and we had to avoid being seen by them at all cost. There were stories about them acting as a kind of guard squad for the place and that they demanded money or worse if they caught trespassers.
Supplied with detailed information and maps on how to get into this prison we found our parking spot and walked for a long time to find the entry point. Everything went as planned and we were behind the walls in no time. Behind the huge fences the buildings itself was easy to access. Metal thieves had taken almost every lock in the entire prison.
The story of the place starts when it was a Christian monastery in the beginning of 1200. The monks left during the French Revolution and in the 1900’s the place was converted to a prison.
After several years of building and expansion it could house up to 1500 inmates at one point. In 2011 it was abandoned and frequent visits by all kinds of people has led to massive decay and vandalism.
We spent almost half a day inside. Then it was time to feel the sunlight again and head to the car and drive to the next location.