A PART OF THE RECENT HISTORY OF LES SAINTES-MARIES-DE-LA-MER VANISHES :
THE "GARDIAN'S HUT" AT "LE CAMARGUAIS" RIDING STABLES IS NO MORE
It was by a curious coincidence, on Tuesday February 8th, that I learned of the destruction, the day before, of one of the “seafront huts” at the western entrance to the village of Les Saintes-Maries. Well known to residents and tourists alike, it proudly bore at the top of its pediment the year of its construction – 1951 – and was preceded by a large porch with a basket handle arch bearing the inscription “Le Camarguais”, named after a former horseback ride. Having devoted, fifteen years ago, part of my time to the description of the gardian's huts bordering the sea, I can only deplore this outcome and regret that a different solution could not be found.
The regional media, notably the INFOccitanie site, echoed this destruction.
Camargue: anger and sadness after the demolition of a gardian's house
by Dorian Le He
In the Camargue: The emblematic gardian's hut demolished in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.
This Tuesday morning, at dawn, construction machinery demolished the famous gardian's hut located at the entrance to the village of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. The town hall, owner of the land, undertook this demolition with a view to redeveloping the place into a square.
Years of legal battles
No regulatory display is present on the site We urgently contacted Maître Élodie Toniazzo, lawyer at the bar of Nîmes, to inform the competent authorities of the irregularities observed. (Alexandra Sobczak President and founder of Urgences Patrimoine).
The demolition of this historic hut caused a surge of emotion among the inhabitants of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. Many Camargue people wanted to preserve this memory-laden place steeped for future generations. Despite the protests, the town hall decided to continue with its redevelopment project.
Built in the 1950s on a strip of land then almost virgin, the seafront huts originate from the initiative taken by the mayor of the time, Roger Delagnes, to create, at the western entrance of the village, between the beach and the laguna of Launes, an area reserved for the sole construction of Camargue huts covered with marsh reeds. These were, for the most part, residences intended for a seasonal stay, at the seaside, and, for some, starting points for horseback riding. Immortalised by numerous postcards from the 1950s to the 1970s, they constitute, in addition to a part of the recent past of Les Saintes-Maries, an architectural and urbanistic curiosity unique of its kind in Europe (see our article, in pierreseche.com, January 26, 2009).
This fresh destruction does not bode well for the chances of survival of the remaining and unprotected witnesses of the neo-gardian Saintoise architecture.
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A part of the recent history of Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer vanishes: the "gardian's hut" at "Le Camarguais" riding stables is no more
February 14th, 2023