Architectural icons: An Art Deco tour of Northern France

Having been bombed closely throughout the First World Struggle, le nord is a area that basically embraced the urge to rebuild and be reborn throughout the subsequent années folles (the “mad years”, France’s reply to the Roaring Twenties).

As we speak, Artwork Deco nonetheless evokes the glamour and optimism of the Nineteen Twenties, sandwiched between two catastrophic wars – a time when, for a brief spell at the very least, life felt good.

4 must-see landmarks

La Piscine, Roubaix

What’s that? You’ve a weak spot for jaw-droppingly lovely buildings with a socialist coronary heart which were renovated into artwork galleries? Properly, that’s gloriously area of interest, however you’ve come to the appropriate place!

La Piscine is in Roubaix, an hour and a half’s drive south of Calais. Together with its restaurant, backyard and adjoining baths, it was constructed to enhance hygiene and well being as staff flooded in to fill the textile factories that sprang up right here within the Nineteen Twenties. As staff’ homes didn’t have bogs, manufacturing facility bosses would purchase tickets for them to swim or bathe right here repeatedly. You bought half-hour for a shower they usually supplied cleaning soap, shampoo and sizzling, clear water.

The structure was impressed by a monastery: the bogs are the monks’ cells; the backyard is the cloister (in pink brick moderately than marble, so it didn’t intimidate the poor); and the pool is the chapel.

I’m not exaggerating once I say the sunshine within the pool space is divine – the stained-glass home windows at both finish are heavenly and Artwork Deco particulars like balustrades, glazed tiles and pool mosaics are completely proportioned.

La Piscine Roger Salengro, Bruay-La-Buissiere

Excellent for many who succumb simply to death-by-tour-guide, that is an Artwork Deco pool the place you may swim, dive and admire the structure multi functional go.

You’ll discover La Piscine Roger Salengro simply exterior a sleepy northern city, a 50-minute drive west of Lille. As soon as inside, you are feeling as if you’re on the deck of an ocean liner within the Nineteen Twenties, surrounded by neat strains of fixing cubicles and good towers. The gleaming painted concrete and the navy painted rails zing towards the sunshine blue sky and watery ripples; for swimmers, the water is heated by way of the winter and entry is simply €4 (£3.40).

(Rachel Ifans)

Villa Cavrois, Roubaix

It will not be bang-on Artwork Deco, however Villa Cavrois is a Modernist masterpiece that was constructed concurrently close by gems from that interval. Designed by Robert Mallet Stevens, it was constructed round 1932 as a non-public home, occupied as a barracks throughout WWII, left to smash within the Nineteen Eighties – and inhabitated as a squat till 2001, when the French authorities purchased it and renovated it. Now you can go to for simply €9.50 (£8; or €15.50/£13 for a joint ticket for right here and La Piscine Roubaix).

Cease in to view its gloriously designed exterior and inside. Magnificence apart, you received’t consider how refined it’s – 90 years previous with performance that we nonetheless aspire to in our mod-con maisons. All wires are hidden (swoon) and the house-wide speaker system is like an interwar Alexa. There’s a walk-in bathe with aspect jets (from the Thirties), and high-tech lighting.


Whereas the seaside resort of Le-Touquet-Paris-Plage was based by a Parisian, it was a Brit referred to as Whitley who gave this nook of northern France the identification it has at this time. John Robinson Whitley purchased a stretch of land right here in 1902, introducing tennis, golf and horse racing as a part of his imaginative and prescient of a sporting paradise. But it surely was when he opened the city’s first on line casino that he actually performed the ace in his pack. Casinos didn’t exist in Britain till the tip of WWI, and the lure of playing proved irresistible to the good set throughout the channel.

Le Westminster is the one large lodge to stay from Le-Touquet’s Roaring Twenties heyday, with a historical past filled with royalty, celebrities, sports activities stars, politicians and actors. Now a part of the Barriere chain of luxurious accommodations and casinos, it’s lately had a hefty inside facelift, with plush carpets in shattered glass design, zig-zag glass, high-shine lacquered wardrobes in teal and burnt orange, Mondrian paintwork and gold and silver geometric wallpapers.

(Jean-Luc Paillé)

The “Put up Workplace” is a transformed church full with Artwork Deco capitals inset within the concrete façade, a bay window and a clock. Inside, it’s an excellent mixture of turquoise, blue and cream shiny tiles and complex ironwork.

Initially a on line casino, the Palais de Congres is a stunner, with a whiter-than-white mezzanine ballroom, playing rooms and bars – though it’s used extra for enterprise conferences lately than baccarat. It was the place to be seen again within the day and folks would parade nearly something exterior the entrance, together with vehicles, ladies and canines and even the odd airplane that had landed on the seaside at low tide and been dragged as much as city.

From there, take a stroll alongside the Avenue de Golf to see an unimaginable assortment of homes. It’s the place the English used to purchase plots amid the pine forest to construct large villas and maintain backyard events.

Within the glory years, Le Touquet additionally had an enormous open air pool on the seaside. Tiered seating numbered 2,500 with an limitless programme of diving competitions and trend exhibits. They are saying Edith Piaf discovered to swim within the pool – and she or he didn’t remorse it – however all that continues to be now’s the diving board tower, now a part of the Aqualud aqua park (presently closed for renovations).

Vibrant altering rooms on Le Touquet’s seaside

(Rachel Ifans)

5 drive-by delights

Béthune matches properly for a lunch after your dip within the Bruay pool. Choose up a strolling path leaflet from the vacationer workplace for a feast of rounded home windows, cut-off corners, zig-zag gildings, iron spirals, geometric glass artwork and floral motfis. Don’t miss the principle sq. with a bonkers mixture of Artwork Deco and Regionalist structure.

Lille boasts a Unesco World Heritage Artwork Deco belfry in addition to the façade of the previous oyster restaurant, l’Huitriere, and the inside of the long-lasting Patisserie Méert.

Go to the gorgeous Vimi warfare memorial in Givenchy-en-Gohelle. It’s an enormous, white, double-towered construction which lists the names of over 11,000 Canadian troopers killed on the western entrance there.

Lens prepare station is formed like a prepare – and when you’ve seen it, you’ll surprise why each prepare station on the planet isn’t.

The Excentric quarter of Dunkirk is a remaining deal with earlier than you head to Calais for the Eurotunnel. The 35 often-pastel-coloured homes designed by modernist Raynaert date again to 1929 and appear to vie with one another for eccentricity and quirk.

Journey necessities

Rachel drove to Roubaix from the Eurotunnel. Appart’Metropolis Euralille makes for an excellent in a single day base en path to among the sights, after which you may drive to Le Touquet and keep on the perfectly-positioned Resort Bristol.

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