When I was in Deauville, I thoroughly enjoyed a long walk on the beach. Amid all the beautiful homes and hotels, one massive structure really stood out. It was much more like a château than a summer home – there was even a flying buttress on one side – but it was abandoned and in very rough shape. Some windows were boarded up, some were empty of glass, and some still had elaborate curtains hanging in the window.
When I got back to my hotel, I searched for the history of the house online. I found that the house was known originally by two different names, La Tour Carrée, after its bulky, square tower, and Villa Mors, after the family who had lived there. It was actually outside of Deauville (there are no town lines on a beach) and in Tourgeville-les-Sablons. The Mors brothers were early pioneers in the automobile industry. Together, they constructed this grand home in 1905. André Citroën became chairman of the company in 1908 but shut it down entirely in 1925. The Mors factory produced Citroën cars thereafter. While Citroën has remained a household name, not much remains of the Mors company except this empty hulk on the side of the sea.
Délabré (day-lab-ray) means dilapidated, and it certainly fits this once grand house. I had a fantasy that the New England boarding school I work at could buy Villa Mors and transform it into our French campus. We could even stay in shape after crêpe binges by running along the beach. Maybe we could crowd-fund my brilliant idea? All donations gratefully received.