Grand Casino of the Villa des Fleurs at Aix-Le-Bains.
The Villa des Fleurs was a stunning entertainment complex set in beautiful gardens that made it one of the most fashionable places in Europe during the 1920s.
In the beginning there was a detached building known as the Villa des Fleurs in the middle of a beautiful park in a great position just below the Cercle d’Aix. It was let out each year either to seasonal visitors or as a venue for special evening fetes. Eventually, a consortium bought the building for development. They had the vision that the venue could be developed into another entertainment complex mirroring the success of the Cercle. An administrative committee for formed, and a manager appointed by this committee, was responsible for running the entire Casino complex.
The old building was far too small and so renovations were made connecting it to two other buildings by means of an enclosed gallery. Finally, The Grand Casino of the Villa des Fleurs, or more briefly the Villa des Fleurs was opened in 1880. The buildings and gardens were bounded by the Avenue Victoria, Avenue Marie and the Avenue de la Gare, that led to the railway station. The principal entrance was at the end of the Avenue des Fleurs that ran down through the town past the Grand Cercle.
On entering the building there were various halls, vestibules, offices, reading and conversation-rooms, a ballroom and a large and beautiful gaming room, well ventilated and arranged (Salon de Jeux or Salle de Baccara). The interior décor was luxurious and tasteful and an artist called M. Domer from Lyons covered the walls with allegorical paintings.
After passing through the second hall was the main restaurant and further on was the pretty theatre with various other adjoining rooms. The theatre could readily be converted into a ballroom or dining-hall by removing the movable seats. There was also a semi-open-air Grand Galerie du Music hall for concerts.
Like the Cercle d’Aix the Villa des Fleurs offered various amusements to its subscribers and visitors. Every afternoon an orchestra of forty-five musicians played excellent concerts in the kiosk in the park and in the evening the same orchestra performed elsewhere in the complex. Every day except Saturday there was a theatrical representation. A comic opera or operetta troupe alternated with plays comedy, drama, or vaudeville. Saturday evening was reserved for a grand musical fete and general illumination of the park, followed by a beautiful display of fireworks with a grand ball as the finale.
During the season the administration of the Villa des Fleurs also provided performances from well-known vocal, dancing or theatrical artistes specially engaged for the occasion.
The Villa des Fleurs became world renowned for staging beautiful themed galas and in the summer of 1924 for example there was ‘Les Venus Poudrees’ with white decor and a white ballet featuring the dancing of Moss and Fontana performing as a white Pierrot and Columbine. Later in the season they had a charming Lotus Stem gala with Christiane and Duroy providing the dancing. In the summer of 1926, the glamorous and highly popular American dancer Dora Duby was the main attraction and in 1927 the American team of Charles Sabin and Edwina St Claire stopped by in the midst of an extensive European tour.
Take a look at the page about the Mountain resort of Aix-Le-Bains
Take a look at the page about the the Grand Cercle
Chicago Tribune, Dancing Times, L’Officiel de la Mode and Variety
From Deauville to Monte Carlo by Basil Woon
Aix Le Bains and its Environs by Victor Barbier