©Vue aérienne du quartier Belle-Epoque de Bagnoles de l'Orne|David Commenchal

A tour of the Belle Epoque Quarter

Explore the resort architecture of Bagnoles de l’Orne

From unusual chalets to sumptuous villas, the late 19th-century belle Epoque Quarter is home to some true works of art. Like an open-air museum, a tour of the quarter promises to be a highlight of your visit to Bagnoles de l’Orne.

The Belle Epoque
in Bagnoles de l’Orne

Three listed boulevards lined with sumptuous residences form the Belle Epoque Quarter, A relic of the town’s heyday when the town was increasing in fame. I want to know more about the architecture of this area, so I took advantage of a guided tour offered by the tourist office so I could learn more about the decorative style of these residential villas.

The tour started from the tourist office in Place du Marché in the town centre where I met our guide for a two hour guided walk around the heart of the spa resort.

The building of the railway station in 1881 brought the first tourists from the aristocracy and high society who came to take the waters at Bagnoles. A luxury hotel was built on the banks of the lake and the first second homes for holidaymakers quickly followed.

The 45 fillers of the Belle Epoque Quarter Bear witness to the development of the town at the end of the 19th century.

Unusual chalets

We went down to the banks of the lake where just opposite we could see the Chalet Normand. This was one of the first houses to be built in the Belle Epoque Quarter, and was constructed in 1893 for a Parisian widow. This timber framed residents is reminiscent of some of the villas in Deauville and Cabourg.
We then took a path that our guide called a “donkey track” to get to the quarter designed by the architect Albert Christophle en 1886. This estate was built on a 106 acre site in the Forêt des Andaines between the spa and the railway station. The area has three parallel boulevards with fourr roads at right angles to them and a central square.

The Chalet Suédois remains one of the rare exceptions to the strict design brief that was drawn up by Christophle. This building was originally the Pavillon de la Suède from the 1889 universal exhibition in Paris. It was rebuilt here piece by piece in 1890. Its stylised horse head and snowflake carvings contrast with the resort architecture of the surrounding villas.

Must-see villas

Two residences at the extremities of the central square embody Albert Christophle’s intended architectural style. They remain the “model houses” of the quarter.

Villa Beau Séjour, which was built in 1899 by the businessman Alphonse Appert, has enamelled lava plaques and glazed-brick friezes in red, blue, yellow and green. The original villa, which had a triangular footprint and a small corner tower, was enlarged to turn it into a hotel. Today it is a private house.

Next door, Villa Le Castel, which was built in around 1903 by Léon Bénard, remains a decorative masterpiece that is classed as a “catalogue house”. It is characterised by the diversity of materials used (including breeze blocks, sandstone and glazed brick) and the richness of its decoration. Each window is different in order to illustrate all the decorative possibilities allowed within the design brief.

My dream villa

Among the fifteen or so villas that we saw on the tour of the quarter, my favourite is Le Nid-Bel. These semi-detached houses belong to two sisters, Denise and Mireille, who each lived in their own half. But what you can’t see from the outside, is that there is an ingenious system of movable partitions linking the two villas and enabling the sisters to spend time together.

Although its Art-Nouveau-inspired façade retains a harmonious balance, you can nonetheless spot some differences that can no doubt be traced back to the character of each individual owner! One has large curved lines and enamelled decoration above the upper window, whereas the other is more austere and has a slim pointed roof.


5,00 €

pro person

This tour is only available in French without translations.
Translated booklets are available from the tourist office.

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