May 22, 2024


Art Shines Through

Architectural icons: An Art Deco tour of Northern France

Having been bombed seriously during the To start with World War, le nord is a area that genuinely embraced the urge to rebuild and be reborn for the duration of the subsequent années folles (the “mad years”, France’s remedy to the Roaring Twenties).

These days, Artwork Deco nonetheless evokes the glamour and optimism of the 1920s, sandwiched amongst two catastrophic wars – a time when, for a short spell at the very least, everyday living felt fantastic.

4 ought to-see landmarks

La Piscine, Roubaix

What’s that? You’ve a weak location for jaw-droppingly beautiful buildings with a socialist heart that have been renovated into art galleries? Perfectly, which is gloriously area of interest, but you have arrive to the ideal area!

La Piscine is in Roubaix, an hour and a half’s travel south of Calais. Alongside with its restaurant, backyard and adjoining baths, it was crafted to enhance hygiene and health as workers flooded in to fill the textile factories that sprang up below in the 1920s. As employees’ homes didn’t have bogs, factory bosses would invest in tickets for them to swim or bathe listed here often. You bought 30 minutes for a tub and they provided cleaning soap, shampoo and sizzling, cleanse h2o.

The architecture was encouraged by a monastery: the loos are the monks’ cells the back garden is the cloister (in crimson brick somewhat than marble, so it didn’t intimidate the very poor) and the pool is the chapel.

I’m not exaggerating when I say the light in the pool spot is divine – the stained-glass windows at possibly finish are heavenly and Artwork Deco specifics like balustrades, glazed tiles and pool mosaics are beautifully proportioned.

La Piscine Roger Salengro, Bruay-La-Buissiere

Great for people who succumb simply to demise-by-tour-information, this is an Artwork Deco pool the place you can swim, dive and admire the architecture all in 1 go.

You’ll uncover La Piscine Roger Salengro just outside the house a sleepy northern town, a 50-moment push west of Lille. When within, you come to feel as however you’re on the deck of an ocean liner in the 1920s, surrounded by neat strains of changing cubicles and good towers. The gleaming painted concrete and the navy painted rails zing versus the light blue sky and watery ripples for swimmers, the water is heated by way of the winter and entry is just €4 (£3.40).

(Rachel Ifans)

Villa Cavrois, Roubaix

It may well not be bang-on Art Deco, but Villa Cavrois is a Modernist masterpiece that was constructed at the same time as nearby gems from that time period. Made by Robert Mallet Stevens, it was produced around 1932 as a personal residence, occupied as a barracks throughout WWII, left to ruin in the 1980s – and inhabitated as a squat until finally 2001, when the French authorities purchased it and renovated it. You can now check out for just €9.50 (£8 or €15.50/£13 for a joint ticket for in this article and La Piscine Roubaix).

Stop in to perspective its gloriously made exterior and interior. Attractiveness aside, you won’t imagine how complex it is – 90 yrs previous with functionality that we continue to aspire to in our mod-con maisons. All wires are concealed (swoon) and the house-vast speaker technique is like an interwar Alexa. There is a wander-in shower with facet jets (from the 1930s), and significant-tech lights.


Whilst the seaside vacation resort of Le-Touquet-Paris-Plage was started by a Parisian, it was a Brit identified as Whitley who gave this corner of northern France the identification it has currently. John Robinson Whitley bought a stretch of land below in 1902, introducing tennis, golfing and horse racing as aspect of his eyesight of a sporting paradise. But it was when he opened the town’s 1st on line casino that he genuinely played the ace in his pack. Casinos did not exist in Britain right until the close of WWI, and the lure of gambling proved irresistible to the wise set throughout the channel.

Le Westminster is the only large lodge to continue being from Le-Touquet’s Roaring Twenties heyday, with a record packed with royalty, superstars, sports activities stars, politicians and actors. Now part of the Barriere chain of luxury resorts and casinos, it is just lately experienced a significant interior facelift, with plush carpets in shattered glass style, zig-zag glass, high-glow lacquered wardrobes in teal and burnt orange, Mondrian paintwork and gold and silver geometric wallpapers.

(Jean-Luc Paillé)

The “Post Office” is a transformed church complete with Artwork Deco capitals inset in the concrete façade, a bay window and a clock. Inside of, it is a superb mix of turquoise, blue and product shiny tiles and intricate ironwork.

At first a casino, the Palais de Congres is a stunner, with a whiter-than-white mezzanine ballroom, gambling rooms and bars – though it’s applied extra for company conferences these times than baccarat. It was the spot to be noticed back again in the day and individuals would parade nearly something outdoors the front, like cars, gals and dogs and even the odd plane that experienced landed on the seaside at minimal tide and been dragged up to city.

From there, just take a stroll together the Avenue de Golfing to see an amazing collection of homes. It’s where by the English utilized to purchase plots amid the pine forest to create big villas and maintain back garden get-togethers.

In the glory decades, Le Touquet also experienced a enormous open air pool on the beach front. Tiered seating numbered 2,500 with an endless programme of diving competitions and manner exhibits. They say Edith Piaf realized to swim in the pool – and she didn’t regret it – but all that stays now is the diving board tower, now element of the Aqualud aqua park (currently closed for renovations).

Vibrant changing rooms on Le Touquet’s seashore

(Rachel Ifans)

5 drive-by delights

Béthune suits properly for a lunch right after your dip in the Bruay pool. Select up a strolling trail leaflet from the vacationer business office for a feast of rounded home windows, slice-off corners, zig-zag elaborations, iron spirals, geometric glass artwork and floral motfis. Do not miss out on the principal sq. with a bonkers blend of Artwork Deco and Regionalist architecture.

Lille boasts a Unesco Planet Heritage Artwork Deco belfry as effectively as the façade of the previous oyster cafe, l’Huitriere, and the interior of the iconic Patisserie Méert.

Visit the beautiful Vimi war memorial in Givenchy-en-Gohelle. It’s a massive, white, double-towered framework which lists the names of around 11,000 Canadian soldiers killed on the western entrance there.

Lens teach station is formed like a coach – and after you’ve viewed it, you’ll question why each practice station in the environment isn’t.

The Excentric quarter of Dunkirk is a closing deal with before you head to Calais for the Eurotunnel. The 35 generally-pastel-colored properties built by modernist Raynaert date back to 1929 and seem to be to vie with every other for eccentricity and quirk.

Journey necessities

Rachel drove to Roubaix from the Eurotunnel. Appart’City Euralille makes for a excellent right away foundation en route to some of the sights, soon after which you could travel to Le Touquet and remain at the correctly-positioned Hotel Bristol.