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Château Laurens in Agde, a Dandy’s Dream Come True

Published on , by Philippe Dufour

The palatial residence dreamed up by a Languedoc aesthete is open to visitors, taking them on a fantastic journey through space and time from Pharaonic Egypt to the Gilded Age.

The music room© David Maugendre Château Laurens in Agde, a Dandy’s Dream Come True

The music room
© David Maugendre

Generations of Agde residents, in southern France, have contemplated this spectacular house on the banks of the Hérault opposite the old town, with its light volumes and terraced roofs, halfway between an Egyptian temple and a Greco-Roman mausoleum. Erected between 1898 and 1901, Château Laurens is named after the man who had it built, Emmanuel Laurens (1873-1959). Money was no object for the millionaire dandy, who gave shape to his dreams nurtured by travels to distant places. The aesthete lived and hosted lavish parties in the extravagant palace, whose decorative scheme brilliantly combines Art Nouveau and ancient Egypt , until the late 1930s. After Laurens died in 1959, the château, already sold as a viager , remained uninhabited. While forgotten by its new owners, this sleeping beauty fortunately was not subject to alterations, but suffered decades of neglect, damage and theft. This long, critical period ended in 1994, when the town of Agde bought the property, which was listed as a historic monument two years later. In 2024, after a 16-year, €15 million renovation funded mainly by the Agglomération Hérault Méditerranée (35%) and DRAC Occitanie (30%), visitors can finally enjoy this timeless place, the product of its original owner’s whimsical imagination.   The foyer and the grand staircase © David Maugendre Rich and Free …
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