During the Belle Époque, the resort city of Royan, in southwest France, was a magnet for the high-society set. Blown to smithereens during World War II, the town was rebuilt in the 1950s by a clutch of high-minded architects from the nearby Bordeaux architecture school who were under the spell of Brazilian modernists like Oscar Niemeyer. They brought to the buildings curves, abstract forms, and reinforced concrete, scandalizing the conservative Royannais and alienating longtime visitors. The retooled town quickly sunk into a scruffy postwar obscurity and has only recently reemerged as a modishly offbeat spot to own a beach house.
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