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Visiting the amazing Theatre at Calais, France: even without actors, a performance in itself by Gustave Malgras-Delmas!
Ornate features typicial of the Belle Époque.
You don't need to visit the interior of this amazing, opulent building to be overwhelmed by it. I did not enter the building itself, but was forcibly stuck by its ornate lines and monumentality. (Hence the title's reference to the architect having put on quite a performance!)
The architect was Gustave Malgras-Delmas (1863-1923)(1), who was known for a number of significant civic buildings. Features of the building include several enormous pillars, mansard roofing and ornate carvings including allegorical figures.
Neoclassical and Beaux-Arts elements are thus discernible at this building, which was planned following the amalgamation of the towns of Calais and neighbouring Saint=Pierre. Built in 1903, it was officially inaugurated in 1905 by the President of French Republic, Émile Loubet (1838-1929). The Theatre at Calais epitomizes the Belle Époque era during the Third Republic, when ornate and even flamboyant buildings were very much in vogue, in contrast to the simpler architectural styles which became more widespread after the cataclysmic events of World War One. Interestingly, in 1905 there came the separation of church and state, with the authorities divesting themselves of official theology, while at the same time from a cultural perspective fine Belle Époque aesthetics were very much in fashion.
The Municipal Theatre at Calais thus seems representative of an opulent spurt of expensive architectural invention which occurred shortly before the upheavals of World War One when so many things changed almost irrevocably.
This building is situated at Boulevard Lafayette, in Calais, in France's Pas-de-Calais department.
March 10, 2016
(1) Other buildings for which Architect Malgras-Delmas was responsible include the Palais de Fervaques, at Saint-Quentin, and the Town Hall at Fismes. For more information regarding this architect, see (in French): http://www.iledefrance.fr/sites/default/files/medias/2013/11/visite-4.pdf , p. 3, para. 3.
See also: http://www.calais.ws/FrCalaisTheatre.htm
Some sourcing: Wikipedia.
Also worth seeing
In Calais itself, other notable sights include: Tour du Guet, dating at least from 1302; the Flemish-style Town Hall and Belfry and Rodin's sculpture 'The Burghers of Calais'; Notre Dame Church uniquely in English Tudor style, from the long possession of Calais by England; Lacemaking centre, at 135, quai du Commerce commemorating an industry for which Calais has long been well known;
Cap Blanc-Nez (distance: c. 31 kilometres) and nearby Cap Gris-Nez are major landmarks and picturesque cliff areas along the Côte d’Opale (Opal Coast).
How to get there: United Airlines flies from New York Newark to Paris (Aéroport Paris-Charles de Gaulle ), from where car rental is available (distance from Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport to Calais: 267 kilometres). The French railroad company SNCF maintains a service between Paris (Gare du Nord) and Calais. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
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