Circuit du Val de Vienne – Abandoned Holiday Park

Originally located at the local racing circuit, are these holiday huts, it is presumed that it has been a very long time since offering some sort of emotional happiness to someone needing to get away. Believed to have been abandoned in around 2005. whilst i was there during 2009, various family’s were still (illegally) living here, we said hello and then left these people in peace and had a look around various other parts of the site, noted was a bar area, an sports area with gym equipment, but it seems the site was more historical than we first thought.

After researching these buildings some more it turns out that the camp named Camp Militaire de la Rye au Vigeant, (it takes it names from the local hamlet of La Rye and town of La Vigeant), has existed here since around 1914, being constantly upgraded till the early 1940’s, it was used as a military site, with approximately 6,000 workers employed in the early construction of its roads, the construction of the site itself, making/storing and moving ammunition, shells and other explosives, a lot of this work seems to have been carried out by mainly Spanish, Italian and Hungarian refugee’s (it is said workers had to work 12 hour days, 7 days a week), the site had its own rail network for loading ammunitions (believed called S.C.C.N. de l’Isle-Jourdain that ran to the town of the same name locally) and it’s own water tower, the site is upgraded during the 1940’s and featured modern luxurys like electricity, plumbed water system and a sewage system, now consisting of 38 Lodgements which measured 30mx6m each (old aerial photos show a total of more than 80 buildings that originally would have stood on the site), Later in WW2, Malagasy Solders and then Germans solders were here, after the fierce fighting between the FFI and the German Wehrmacht during the summer of 1944 in which 18 Resistance Fighters and 22 Civilians would be massacred in nearby destroyed town of La Vigeant, and during 1944 and 1945 those who were classed as collaborators will be held here too, after the war it will be used as a prison, It stopped working as a prison during 1951.

The site is noted as in an abandoned state in 1954 by a local prefecture who see’s the site as a ideal place in which to house people needing accommodation quickly, a limit was set at 300 refugee’s, for the lack of sufficient sewage disposal methods for more than this many people could cause health issues, as was noted by more than one authority.

In its prime it is believed the site covered an area of over 150 hectares, during 1954 refugees from the old territory of French Indo-china pass through the camp, during 1957 Hungarian refugees are housed here, In March 1962, only nine families were left in the Citie de la Rye, about sixty people. The authorities decided to close the Rye camp within a period of two months. A local governor stepped in, retaining the camp for the reception and repatriation of Muslim families, following the Evian agreements of March 1962 which ended the Algerian war. The camp then serves as a transit and reclassification camp after a decision of the Secretary of State for Repatriates, Harki’s (native Muslim Algerians) also have their own small cemetery on the site consisting of six graves of elderly people and young children who died during this period (which is still preserved to this day), the site grows into its own small town, consisting of 40 residential buildings housing 150 dwellings with a small school and adult training centre, each building would be set out in 3 or 5 roomed buildings with water and electricity, basic furnishings, Toilet/Sink, 2 or 3 bedrooms, 2 Fireplaces. Turkish toilets were also installed outside, the Camp de la Rye opens again at the end of June 1962. By September 1962, the population of the Citie de la Rye swelled from it maximum of 300 to over 700, this number continued to grow and by 1963, the population numbers stood at more than 900 people, some being Religious and political figures, many people coming here were merely shipped from neighbouring camps, Life on the camp was far from easy.

Under military supervision, the camp becomes a ‘real town’ with a school and a professional training centre for young adults of foreign origin, mainly training in building trades, as well as a boarding school with 200 beds accommodating mostly young Harkis boys aged 16 to 17 years although adults were also trained here too. These young people leave a year after their professional internship, either to their place of origin or to a place of employment. at the end of the 1964, the camp like all other transit camps closes its doors. A government report of 1965 indicates that more than 700 returnees have gone successfully gone through the training courses in 1963-1964.

In 1991 the site is purchased by Sidem and it is again transformed and seemingly with bars on the windows as its used to hold young 150 delinquents as a rehabitation centre ran, established to house unruly children, it was an experimental establishment offering education, socialisation and professional insertion skills, sometime in the early 00’s the association is then known as ‘Nouvel Horizon’, in around 2005 the site closes

As shown above, it still marked on some maps as the Citie de la Rye, Black and white photo is the site between 1950-1965, the rest around 2011, all map images sourced via geoportail, but now for this site, the map and a few photos are all that is left as the site as of 2013, after nearly 100 years of standing in this exact spot, has now since been demolished, to make way for extra car parking spaces and industrial units for the Circuit du Val de Vienne which is located just metres away and the reason why i came across this site in the first place.




Article updated 25/01/18