Le Touquet Architecture
The sophisticated seaside resort of Le Touquet has many buildings listed on the historic monuments registry. There are grand art deco designs mingled in with 19th century thatched cottages, layered on modern interpretations of the art deco style. Le Touquet evolved to provide a playground for the rich and famous in the 1920’s and 30’s, Noel Coward was a regular visitor. You can visit the various buildings independently or join one of the regular walking tours organised by the tourist office – cost around €7.
The Westminster Hotel was built in 1924, and is now the region’s last grand hotel of the era. It is hard to believe that Le Touquet used to have an even grander Hotel – The Royal Picardy Hotel. In its day the most luxurious hotel in the world – a place where apartments had their own private swimming pools. Opened in 1930 the Hotel was spread across 9 floors, and consisted of 120 lounges, 500 bedrooms plus 50 apartments with there own kitchens and butler. The Hotel was commandeered by Hitler and bombed several times, after the war ended it never regained its grandeur.
The town demolished the remaining ruins in 1968 and the site is now a hotel school.
Le Touquet Casino
This Casino was the inspiration for Ian Fleming’s first James Bond Book Casino Royal written in 1967. Other notable visitors were the “Dolly Sisters” identical twin dancer/ actresses who were blessed with good luck in the Casino’s of France. Reportedly Jenny Dolly won 4 million Francs in one evening in Canne. It is still a working Casino although mostly taken over by slot machines.
If gambling is not for you don’t be put off by the noise of the the Casino slot machines. There is an excellent restaurant with a varied menu which offers great value for money.
Once a month proud owners of vintage and expensive cars park on the lawn for all to admire. I have never really worked out if this is just an excuse for owners to photograph their car with a great back drop or easy parking for a long lunch.
Le Touquet Town Hall
One of the finest features of Le Touquet is the town hall or Hôtel de ville as it is also known. Still a working centre of administration its is difficult not to admire this grand architecture especially at night when it takes on another dimension. Built around 1928 the construction was financed by the income from the town’s casino after just one year of trading.
Le Mascaret & Post Office
One of my favourite buildings in the heart of Le Touquet next to the police station and post office. Le Mascaret is a imposing Edwardian building constructed in 1905. When you visit be sure to make a purchase in the wonderful fish shop close by. The post office next door is unusual with its bell tower and yellow paint.
Le Village Suisse
The Village Suisse Restaurant located in the heart of Le Touquet in an area that carries the same name. In 1906 Mr. Perret-Maisonneuve, assisted by the architect Bertrand, built a village on the dunes of Le Touquet-Paris-Plage which was to remind him of Switzerland. Close to the Westminster Hotel.
Le Touquet Market
The covered market was built in 1931-1933 in the neo-regionalist style, in the form of a semicircle. The south wing was converted in 1960 to accommodate a fishmonger.
The Marche Couvert is a very impressive building. Food stalls in the permanent covered market are laden with the fresh vegetables, local cheeses, jams, sweets,great fish and home produced goodies. My favourite is the spit roasted chicken with roasted potatoes, an ideal takeaway for lunch. The surrounding area flourishes into an interesting flea market.
It is interesting to see that the style of architecture is being maintained even with newly built properties. A selection of vibrant properties have recently been built close to the Westminster Hotel. I have shown just a selection of the architecture in Le Touquet but you will find many interesting examples of your own. Such as the Villa Le Castel and the Church of Joan of Arc with its unusual wooden ceiling recalling an upside down ship. Many photo opportunities await so pack your camera for your historical tour of Le Touquet.
The Historical Walking Tour Of Le Touquet
Le Touquet-Paris-Plage has created a History Trail to discover 31 remarkable sites of its architectural heritage and history. Among these sites, the city can proudly present 20 buildings listed on the Inventory of Historic Monuments. From the 1900s, the time of the Roaring Twenties, through the two world wars and the adventure of the 70s, to the contemporary period, the tour allows visitors to cross the twentieth century with a cultural walk or by bike.
You will find lots more information about each building and the fascinating history of each by visiting the Le Touquet Museum website.