Le château Laurens
The history of the castle Laurens is incredible: in so many ways that we could think it is from the imagination of Alexandre Dumas. Emmanuel Laurens would have been a great inspiration to create new adventures for his characters. Born in 1873 in a very wealthy family, the latter is soon going to take an avid interest in travels. While he is wandering all over the world, he inherits a huge fortune from a remote cousin, then his father who dies the same year, at the age of twenty four years old. He also inherits a site in the city of Agdes.
Despite his complete ignorance of the job of architect, he decides to draw himself the plans of the future villa he wants to build on his site; taking a lot of inspiration from the new trend of « art nouveau » that was in vogue at the time. He wishes that his castle becomes a masterpiece, but also a piece of art by itself where architecture, the scenery, the furniture and the art of living are put together. Each room is linked to one of his journeys abroad (Japanese hall, Italian patio, Moorish entrance, etc.…). Artists dedicated to the Art Nouveau trend like the painter Eugène Dufour, the decorator Léon Cauvy, or the designer Eugène Simas are in charge to decorate and adorn the villa. In 1920, he marries the opera singer Louise blot and built for her a music lounge in his castle. The music lounge has a dome and the size of a chapel to showcase the beauty of her voice. Emmanuel Laurens live the high life with his family and his friends during the next decades with numerous parties, travels and expenses in what people calls the “Villa Laurens”.
But this expensive way of living and hazardous investments reduce his fortune, and he has the obligation to sell the castle in a life annuity sale in 1938. He, his wife and his mother live now sparingly in an independent part of the villa where employees used to stay. During the Second World War, the castle is occupied by the Nazi army; as the story goes, Emmanuel Laurens decided he preferred to sink his furniture and objects in the lake rather than letting the Germans seize it. Addicted to opium since his early travels, Emmanuel Laurens is penniless and begins to lose his mind. His wife dies in 1954, he follows her in 1959 while he is leaving like a bum in the streets of Agde.
Fade from memory, the castle Laurens was heavily damaged by rain and time after all those years left derelict. He was then bought by the city hall of Agdes in 1994; then the community of the “Hérault Méditerranée Occitanie” region decided to give it a second life by renovating it entirely. The public opening is supposed to be for the end of 2020. Maybe the magnificent villa will reveal us new secrets on its’ already amazing history!