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Site map - The Reconstruction of Royan and tha Architecture of the 1950's, France, French Atlantic Coast

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Le Front de Mer en 1960

The Reconstruction
 and the Resort Architecture of the 1950's

On 5th January, 1945, the town of Royan was practically annihilated by the allied bombardments.

Only the districts situated on the West, next to Pontaillac, and in the East along the Grande Conche, were partially spared.

Royan after its liberation in April, 1945, was in ruins.

The Sea front in 1960, seen from the Casino

L'Egise Notre-Dame en 1960

The work of clearing the area lasted several years and the reconstruction really started in 1949 and was a national responsibility within the framework of the Ministère de la Reconstruction.

The expression "modern laboratory of town planning and architecture" was used to characterise the methods and the work of the architects and the town planners of this time.

Besides that, it was necessary to rebuild quickly and effectively. In ten years from 1949 until 1959, Royan became an avant-guarde town.

The architecture constructed in concrete in the style of the 1950s obviously was greatly criticised, especially by those accustomed to the pre-war Royan, but it is remembered for the considerable impact it made on public opinion at that time and its symbolic aspect, at a time when economic growth was restarting.

It became absolutely necessary "to visit Royan", a "must" for that time. It was the main attraction for the whole the region and even beyond...

The Notre Dame Church in 1960

La Rotonde du Casino

The Sea front with its beach on one side and the town on the other, the wide avenues, the Casino, the Central Market, the Conference Hall, the Notre Dame Church, the Protestant Temple and the Post office, constituted the inescapable marks of the new Royan.

The new casino, which is no longer there today, and its gardens, occupied the place where the new gardens are now laid out between the sea front and the yachting marina. It was opened in 1960.

One still remembers the successful summer tours of the up-and-coming stars of that time, such as Johnny Hallyday who is still performing today.

This casino was demolished in 1985 for financial reasons and safety measures.

During its short existence, it was considered as a key piece of Royan's modern architecture.

It is regrettable that it was demolished as today, it would no doubt have been classified as an historic monument!

Fortunately, the project for the construction of an exhibition centre, "Centre of the Sea", envisaged after the demolition of the casino, never materialised ; the gardens laid out now between the sea front and the port are much more attractive and pleasant.

The central market was built in 1955. It is constructed by a veil of circular concrete, 50 metres in diameter, without any internal pillars, which gives it the appearance of a huge umbrella.

The Portique walk, built originally to go through the middle of the sea front, gave views on one side, of the beach and the estuary, and on the other, the view overlooking the market.

For the tourists who used to visit Royan, one of the first things to do was to climb up one of the two sets of steps to reach the walk on the Portique and to have a first general view of the whole of Royan.

This Portique was demolished at the same time as the Casino and was replaced by leisure areas and flower beds.

Also the new villas, their architecture, influenced by Le Corbusier, mark a break with the previous architecture.

Villas constructed in geometrical lines appear in all the resorts along the coast.

A small concrete portico built in 2000 at the entry to the new jetty promenade constructed between the yachting marina and the beach, is a reminder to visitors of the important part that the 1950’s played in the renewal of Royan.

The Rotunda of the Casino in 1960

Le Front de Mer et le Casino en 1960
The Sea front and Casino seen from the sea, 1962
Le Marché Central en 1960

The Market seen from the Portique walk, 1960

La plage en 1960, vue du Portique-promenade

The beach seen from the Portique walk, 1960


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