French commune
lake and casino in Bagnoles-de-l'Orne
maire=Dr René Jambon
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Bagnoles-de-l'Orne is a commune of the Orne "département", in France.


This commune is famous for its hydrotherapic baths, which are known for their healing powers for rheumatic, gynaecologic and circulatory problems. The origins of thermal activity are said to date back to the Middle Ages. Local legend tells of the medieval lord Seigneur Hugues de Tessé. As he felt he was reaching the end of his life he decided to abandon his once-glorious horse "Rapide" in the Andaines forest. He was amazed when the animal returned home some time later, strong and totally revitalized. Without resentment, "Rapide" took its master along the waters of Bagnoles where he drank and also got rejuvenated. The spa was born.

According to another tale, a very old Franciscan monk who took the waters in Bagnoles found a new astonishing vigour and leapt across the highest rocks above the town, which are still called "Le Saut du Capucin" (Monk's Leap Rock).

Another facet of this fascinating place is the Arthurian legend, since Bagnoles and its surroundings are supposed to be Lancelot's country. The village's calendar of cultural events includes a visit of the most famous Arthurian sites.

The "Belle Époque" Quarter

The "Belle Époque" Quarter in Bagnoles-de-l'Orne constitutes a rather well preserved example of what could be a typical French upper-class residential area of the beginning of the 20th century. Built between 1886 and 1914 and located in the southern part of the town, it is filled with superb villas with polychrome façades, bow windows and unique roofing. Similar projects were developed throughout France at the same time, among which are Le Vésinet close to Paris, the Saurupt Park in Nancy and the "Winter Town" of Arcachon.

Built under strict rules of construction and intended for fortunate curists, the Quarter supported very clearly the concept of a luxurious and peaceful area in full heart of the Normandy forest. At the time, the thermal activity did not want to be popular, but privileged the elitist luxury and the aspirations of high-born people who took pleasure in the exaltation of nature like place of resourcing.

For this reason, Bagnoles-de-l'Orne is also known for the many prestigious visitors who would have resided at it at various times: the King and the Queen of Romania, Frank Jay Gould, the Prince of Montenegro, the Prince of Greece, the Bibesco Princess, the Princess of Batenberg, Edouard Herriot, Alexandre Dumas, père, or even the Maharani of Kapurthala.

The architectural opulence of constructions such as the Villas "Printania", "Le Castel", or the so-called "Swedish Country cottage" as well as the presence of large lavish Hotels gives a good idea of the stunning taste of the "Fin de siècle" period. It is clear that if the local style seems to have been inspired by the Norman neo-regionalist style such as one can find it in the seaside resorts of the "flowered coast" like Deauville, Houlgate or Trouville, there is a "Bagnolais" architectural style with no one another similar.

Art Deco Architecture

After the long break caused by World War I, the development of Bagnoles-de-l'Orne as a touristic place eventually carried over.

During this second period of great affluence, which corresponds to what is known in France as "Les Années Folles" ("Roaring Twenties"), the success of Bagnoles-de-l'Orne became even more massive and international. The thermal season was filled with classical music concerts, horse races at the hippodrome, golf tournaments as well as other sophisticated leisure activities. The demand for entertainment was high and a second casino was eventually built.

As it was essential for a thermal city to be always at the height of fashion, the buildings erected during this period were highly influenced by the "Art Deco" style, which was popular in the 1920s and 1930s.

Probably, the most interesting examples of this type of architecture are the "Casino du Lac" built by the renowned architect Auguste Bluysen and the "Eglise Saint Jean-Baptiste" (1934-1935), which is today listed as heritage of the 20th century. Both buildings created romantic settings and added modern decoration (geometric forms and white colors scheme) while blending flawlessly into the greenery of the surrounding landscape.

The Assassination of Carlo Rosselli

Carlo Rosselli (1899-1937) was a famous Italian socialist intellectual and activist during the years between World War I and World War II. He devoted his whole life and large amount of money to the anti-fascist fight against Mussolini, Hitler, and Franco. He and his brother, Nello, were assassinated in Bagnoles-de-l'Orne on June 9th, 1937.


External links

* [ Official website]
* [ Thermal Baths website]

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