Belle Epoque Villas
The world fairs hosted by Paris in 1855, 1878, 1889 and 1900 were a source of inspiration for architects. At these international events, each nation displayed its excellence and expertise in the areas of trade, industry and the fine arts.
The industrialisation of their means of production led to the introduction of new materials, such as the architectural ceramics that decorate the walls of bourgeois houses.
Ceramic tiles were in vogue between 1880 and 1930. They allowed architects to move away from plain, single-coloured walls and decorate mansions in a more personal style that made a statement about the owner’s social standing.
Brault & Gilardoni and Hippolyte Boulenger & Compagnie are two leading manufacturers of architectural ceramics. Their factories are located in Choisy-le-Roi (Val-de-Marne) and their decorative ceramics can be seen on the facades of the seaside district of Mers-les-Bains.
The building plots stretched back from a narrow frontage, which led to tall villas of various styles being built next to one another by the same architect to form double and even triple dwellings.
The abundance of styles ranges from classical and neo-classical in the first housing estates built near the cliffs, to Anglo-Norman, neo-Renaissance, Art Nouveau and chalet-style, not forgetting the Moorish, Art Déco, Flemish, Medieval, Gothic, Oriental and Baroque features.
Roofing, loggias, inbuilt porches, bow windows, oriels, turrets, finely-crafted balcony railings, colourful facades, ceramics, etc.
Brick was the choice building material. Initially left exposed, the bricks were later painted with whitewash or another coating. Recent renovations have uncovered red and ochre bricks featuring decorative check patterns or geometrical shapes. The roofs are mostly covered in slate tiles.