French photographer Romain Veillon recently had the chance to explore a famous old chateau that represented the height of luxury in 1901. Now abandoned, the chateau in Veillon’s images shows how the ravages of time spare no second thought for riches, leaving the place, quite literally, in tatters.
“The story of the castle Laurens is incredible: in so many ways it looks like something out of the imagination of Alexandre Dumas,” Veillon tells PetaPixel. “Born in 1873 in a very wealthy family, Emmanuel Laurens was an avid traveller. While he was wandering all over the world, he inherited a huge fortune from a remote cousin, then his father who dies the same year, at the age of just twenty four years old.”
“He also inherited a site in the city of Agde, and 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,” continues Veillon. “He wanted his castle to be a masterpiece, but also a piece of art in ad of itself, where the architecture, the scenery, the furniture and the art of living come together seamlessly.”
The result was the Chateau Laurens: a grand villa in which various rooms were themed according to Emmanuel Laurens’ travels abroad.
According to Veillon, Laurens lived “the high life” over the next few decades, throwing decadent parties, traveling widely, and otherwise spending all of his money at a prodigious pace. As a result, he was obliged to sell the chateau in 1938 and move into a part of the villa where the servants used to live.
Since then, the property has gone through several incarnations: it was occupied by the Nazis during World War 2, fell into disrepair and decrepitude after its owners death in 1959, and was eventually purchased by the city of Agde in 1994, which has spent the years since planning for a full-scale renovation.
“The public opening is set for the end of 2020,” says Veillon, “so maybe the magnificent villa will reveal to the upcoming visitors some new secrets that are already followed by the villa’s mesmerizing history!”
In the meantime, you can take a peek inside by scrolling through some of the beautiful images that Veillon captured during his time inside:
To see more images from inside the castle, or if you want to explore more of Veillon’s work, head over to Romain’s website or give him a follow on Facebook and Instagram. As you probably guessed, he specializes in urban exploration of abandoned sites around the world—castles, factories, hospitals, and churches, among others—so there’s a lot more where this came from.
Image credits: All photos by Romain Veillon and used with permission