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Royan, back to the future

September 12 category:Escape
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Royan, back to the future

Royan, this is not a resort, with its beach and walks on the sand. It is also the richest city in France in the 1950s buildings.

Ph. Souchard / OMT Royan

A Royan, swimming in the conch Dropbox or cabotage on the mouth of the Gironde at sunset have the same appeal as the Belle Epoque, in the days when Sarah Bernhardt and Cleo de Merode frequented the resort. Yet, the true character of the city is it not incredible fragrance 1950s, real movie set?

Since the municipality was aware of the richness of this heritage and the tourist office organizes stays on this topic, it happens more than week without visitors strolling the city's nose in the air, revealing all the details these little architectural gems that mark Royan and are undoubtedly the city of France richest in buildings of this era.

Bombed in 1945 and rebuilt in the immediate post-war period, the city consists in fact in its center an armful of buildings with surprising shapes. Here, a facade like a ship prow; there, a cube on stilts; further, a wall pierced like a slice of Swiss cheese. Spectacular in the proportions, but no frills with this fierce determination to sober up in public buildings, like the Post Office or the convention center.

In short, when one wanders through the streets, sometimes it feels to walk in a work of abstract art: the decor of a comic Spirou or film by Jacques Tati. Certainly, the concrete is omnipresent and his rudeness contrasts with the soothing environment: it must be said that at the time this cold but economical material embodied modernity, vitality and optimism (under the skeptical eye of Royan, however). Half a century later, what could be considered a "default architecture" has evolved into a reference and, laboratory, Royan became living museum.

Because obviously what makes this nice is that Royan, which is nicknamed "the new Brasilia" is a small tonic city. Take for example, the market (at the end of Aristide Briand boulevard, ideal for a session window shopping!) In its corrugated roof like a shell - a monolith concrete wall which inspired the CNIT in La Défense - the stalls are a pure delight. Crates full of early vegetables in the region, hampers clear Marennes-Oléron, bed of seaweed which is aligned in rows of onion catch of the day: mackerel, turbot, sardines (here dubbed "the Royans") or, rarer still, when winter comes, the elvers, the eel fry collected in large screen off during the night, translucent and delicate tidbit that one must have tasted at least once in his life.

Then walk along the sea front. Along this huge crescent of golden sand, nests of bees balconies and awnings multicolored small buildings give the impression to evolve in a painting by Mondrian. On the first morning coffee, breweries on the ground floor, as Regalty, which began Eddy Mitchell, offer drop of charm and ocean views. Ideally, if you want to enjoy the city, even though the beginnings sunny autumn (2400 hours of sunshine a year, the record for the coast ...) is to rent a bike on site. Not need too much energy to circulate in the city center, where nearly 150 architects reinvented the physiognomy of the city in the 1950s, but it will however seek your calves if you plan to climb up the hill. Your effort will be rewarded, however, as enthroned atop both worship masterpieces Royan: the Protestant church, recognizable by its peaked roof, and Notre Dame, which was celebrated during the summer half a century. Erected facing the sea, like the bow of a transatlantic, this amazing building with frosted glass windows, which rises to 56 meters high, is the work of architect Guillaume Gillet. Seeing, Andre Malraux had the word "Here, everything is momentum, rigor, harshness, austere beauty. "He could have simply add" sense of space and freedom ", and the whole picture of the city would have been done ...


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