royan, france

Laurent Girard

the bombing of royan is my mother's first memory. as a four year old on January 5, 1945, she remembers watching the explosions from her house about 10 miles away, the largest town of the region being obliterated from the map, with 2 raids of 350 bombers. as a child I used to play around the german bunkers on the beach. now i travel to royan once a year, in early september when the tourists have gone.  most houses are already closed by then, no one will return until the next summer, and the locals are so few, it feels like a ghost town, a town with only two types of architecture:  houses from the turn of the 20th century left standing and the ones built after the war, with their typical 50's look.  a number of renown architects have put their mark on different parts of royan, from the center to the seaside, and around the park.  the old and the new cohabit along the beaches, almost all houses are kept up very close to their original look, one can feel a sense of pride walking along the street.  royan is unique for its architecture, and the inhabitants do their part to preserve the history of their town.

architects like louis simon, guillaume gillet, claude ferret or andré morisseau contributed to the reconstruction of royan, but over 150 architects rebuilt the town from the cathedral to the palais des congrés, from the market to the beach front.

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