The success story of the Pereire brothers

15 April 2018
Les frères Pereire d
Les frères Pereire d'après Nadar
Villa Trocadéro, Arcachon Ville d
Villa Trocadéro, Arcachon Ville d'Hiver
Cabane rue Péreira, Ville-d
Cabane rue Péreira, Ville-d'Hiver

Great developers of real estate and entrepreneurs

From Paris to Arcachon, we cross paths with the Pereire brothers. In the 19th century, Emile and Isaac Pereire were great visionaries and successful entrepreneurs in many fields. As they have just succeeded in Paris a superb real estate transaction in Parc Monceau - hence the subway station that bears their name in the 17th arrondissement of the capital - They also participate in real estate operations as part of the modernization of Paris led by the Prefect Haussmann. Pioneers of the railways, they own the line from Paris to Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Paris-Versailles, then they buy the Compagnie du Midi which connects Bordeaux to Bayonne. Owners of the Vichy spa, they were also the founders of Crédit Mobilier in 1852. The Pereire brothers are in a way the inventors of modern capitalism and key players in the history of 19th century urban planning.

The creators of the Winter City of Arcachon

In the 1860s Arcachon is already an upscale spa resort that is full all summer long. The wealthy Bordeaux merchants are on the beach. To make this investment profitable, they set up a new property operation in Arcachon. While tuberculosis is wreaking havoc, we are trying to put patients in better conditions of possible resistance, in the open air and in the light. But the doctors of Arcachon have long noticed that, despite deplorable living conditions and hygiene, sailors and breeders never contract the disease. A doctor named Pereyra, cousin of the bankers, also notes that crossing the pine forest, the sea winds are losing their aggressiveness and that this attenuated oceanic climate would be perfect for TB patients. Thus, Emile Pereire acquires the lands of the hill and lotot in one jet dozens of extravagant villas on the heights of Arcachon. It will be the "Winter City", a kind of gigantic open sanatorium where the sick can stay with their family, their servants, in private homes bought or rented furnished. The villas come out of the ground like mushrooms. All are different appearances, but in reality built on almost the same plane, from prefabricated elements. Paul Régnauld, nephew of Émile Pereire, was a polytechnician: he is the one who directs the work. At the same time, urban planning is well underway. An English park is planted. Streets and alleys are drawn in a curve, so that there is never anywhere drafts. The Pereire brothers will also seed more than 10,000 ha of forests.

A historic triumph

Finally, a formidable promotional operation launched the station in the presence of the Emperor Napoleon III, his wife Empress Eugenie and the Prince Imperial, their son. A triumph. From all over the world there are the curists. The renown of the Winter City becomes such that, soon, the well-established ones also settle there. The hotels are added to the villas, and the rich visitors will come to entertain themselves at the Casino Mauresque. Gustave Eiffel built the Saint Paul Bridge and the Sainte-Cécile observatory. Today, the district of the Winter City is much sought after: many "picturesque" villas display their pretty facades with scenic effects, so that in 1985, the Winter City is classified in the Inventory of Monuments historic. If the Dune du Pyla attracts a large number of holidaymakers, the Winter City of Arcachon is a very pleasant holiday resort in the shade of pine trees just a stone's throw from the beach.