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Visiting Tourcoing, France with its Arcades building: Art Deco architecture dating from 1930

Updated on April 16, 2012
Flag of France
Flag of France | Source
Art Deco building (1930) by Maurice Batteur and Léon Chandèze, Gustave Druon Avenue, Tourcoing
Art Deco building (1930) by Maurice Batteur and Léon Chandèze, Gustave Druon Avenue, Tourcoing | Source
Map location of Tourcoing, France
Map location of Tourcoing, France | Source

A building complex which experiments in geometric style

To understand the genesis for this type of building in Art Deco style in Tourcoing, France, with its ground level arcades and sedate, residential, upper storeys, overlooking a wide, urban avenue, one must go back to the 19th century and to the way in which Baron Haussman (1) altered the urban landscape in Paris, during the reign of Napoleon III. While this building, dating from 1930, was in its time regarded as very 'modern' (2) in its styling, yet its basic nature may be said to owe a lot to these innovations with which Baron Haussmann was associated.

The architects for this Arcades (French: Les Arcades ) building were Maurice Batteur and Léon Chandèze; business partners, who were responsible for other, similar ventures also in the region.

Art Deco, then, was often characterized by the use of square and geometric shapes; Ancient Egypt and the Aztec Empire were among the art form sources of inspiration. Some of such features are readily apparent in the Arcades (French: Les Arcades ) building, at Tourcoing's avenue Gustave Dron .

The square, abstract, geometric motifs of this building thus stand in contrast to the Art Nouveau style especially popular in closely neighbouring Belgium, with its curvaceous features often representational of forms in nature. The fact that Tourcoing's Arcades building was executed in brick particularly lent itself to the strongly geometric element of the Art Deco styling.

The city of Tourcoing is situated in the Nord department of France, adjacent to the Belgian border.


(1) Georges-Eugène Haussmann (1809-1891), known as 'Baron Haussmann', was a Parisian civic planner particularly noted for grand schemes undertaken with the patronage of Emperor Napoleon III.

(2) To describe architecture, more accurate terminology than 'modern' would, rather, describe the influences upon the architect. Interestingly, the ornate belfry at Tourcoing's former Chamber of Commerce building is only 24 years older than the Arcades building but in terms of cultural history the buildings are separated by intervening World War One, which in many ways proved to be be a catalyst for stylistic and cultural changes.

Also worth seeing

In Tourcoing itself, noted buildings include the nearby railroad station, the former chamber of commerce belfry, Tourcoing city hall, and others.

Mouscron / Moeskroen , Belgium (distance: 5.4 kilometres) has an interesting, moated castle, dating partly from Medieval times, known as the château des Comtes / Gravenkasteel .


How to get there: Brussels Airlines flies from New York to Brussels Airport (Brussel Nationaal / Bruxelles-National ), from where car rental is available. Brussels is the nearest large airport to Tourcoing (distance: 172 kilometres). The Belgian railroad company SNCB / NMBS and the French railroad company SNCF maintain a service between Brussels and Tourcoing; the Arcades building is a few hundred metres from Tourcoing's railroad station. For up to date information, please check with the airline or your travel gent. You are advised to refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada


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    • MJFenn profile image

      MJFenn 5 years ago

      Trish M: Tourcoing, Roubaix and Lille are joined in a conurbation; all three cities have some fine buildings. The urban area actually extends into neighbouring Belgium at Mouscron / Mouskroen. Thank-you for your comment.

    • Trish_M profile image

      Tricia Mason 5 years ago from The English Midlands

      Hi :)

      Very interesting!

      I love looking at local architecture, when I travel on the continent, and the colours and shapes on this building are quite attractive. I have been to this border area, once, but I'm not sure whether or not I actually visited this town.