Royan, France (not Royan, Iran)

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From Wikipedia: During the Second World War, two German fortresses defended the Gironde Estuary: Gironde Mündung Nord (or Royan) and Gironde Mündung Süd (or La Pointe de Grave). These constitued one of the Atlantic “pockets” which the Germans held on to grimly well after the liberation of the rest of France. In the early hours of 5 January 1945 planes of the Royal Air Force, having been told that nobody was left in Royan but Germans and collaborators, in two raids bombed the centre of Royan out of existence. This appalling raid is usually attributed to the Free French Forces General Larminat. The Allied operation, which was directed against the German forces on Île d’Oléron and at the mouth of the Gironde River, began with a general naval bombardment at 0750 on 15 April 1945, some 10 months after D-Day. For five days the US naval task force assisted the French ground forces with naval bombardment and aerial reconnaissance in the assault on Royan and the Pointe de Grave area at the mouth of the Gironde. American B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator aircraft carried out aerial bombing missions, including extensive and pioneering use of napalm, finishing the destruction of 5 January.

The replanning of the town enabled by this destruction affords a very pleasant (because it is so rare?) opportunity to study mid-century modernism, the skyline dominated by the church of Notre Dame de Royan (1958) by Guillaume Gillet. Perhaps a too literal interpretation of Le Corbusier’s praise of the grain silo, the elliptical church is a late example of how the liturgical aesthetics of the Council of Trent were interpreted in the Twentieth Century. Unfortunately the corrosive properties of the sea air are having a damaging effect on this remarkable and inventive landmark.

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1 Response to Royan, France (not Royan, Iran)

  1. Howard says:

    Love Royan and environs (especially Roman architecture in nearby Saintes).

    See more photos of Royan architecture:
    http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=royan+architecture

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