Architecture

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A medieval town

Hyères became a fortified city in the Middle Ages and remained enclosed within its high walls until the Second Napoleonic Empire (1852-1870). The highest – and most ancient parts of town include the ruins of the castle built by the Knights of Fos at the top of the hill. The medieval past of the city is still visible in some private dwellings built between the 12th and the 16th century.

In the 14th century and due to the downhill expansion of the city, a second city wall was built to protect the lower parts of the town. It is accessed via the Massillon Gate, the main entry point into the town. The gate is also known as the “Salt marshes Gate” or the “Bay Gate”.

 

For more information, pick up a copy of our discovery map available at one of the Tourist Office’s information points and upon request. Alternatively, book an instructive guided visit of the city.

Mixed architecture

‘Discovered’ by the cultural and political elite as well as by a British aristocracy keen on warmer winters, the city grew exponentially in the 19th century, expanding beyond its medieval walls. The profile of these new winter residents had a considerable influence on the city’s architecture as hotels, villas and casinos surrounded by refreshing and exotic gardens started being built

 

Town planners and architects

In the 1830s, the urban planner Alphonse Denis carried out the redevelopment of the old town and built the new modern neighbourhood ‘Quartier de l’Orient’ with its splendid houses. Owner of an estate himself (the current Clémenceau Square and Denis Garden), he incorporated them in his modernisation plan and also helped fund a theatre – now called the Denis Theatre. But the most influential protagonist on Hyères’ architecture would be Alexis Godillot, a wealthy Parisian saddler who, along with his architect Pierre Chapoulart set upon modernizing the city from 1860. He even developed an entire neighbourhood – today named after him – characterized by sumptuous and exotic villas (bearing Mauresque, Tunisian and British influences) and gorgeous cast-iron fountains.

 

Modernity

1923 marked the arrival of the avant-garde in Hyères. While the Villa Noailles constituted the founding stone of Modernism in local architecture, other daring projects would follow such as the 1960s Simone Berriau Residence (located in a neighbourhood near the salt marshes) and the church of Notre-Dame de Consolation (1952) built by the architect Raymond Vaillant with stained glasses by Gabriel Loire and sculptures by Lambert-Rucki. Other architects such as the more classical Léon David would also leave their mark in the city.

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