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The Grand Bandar is a historic site and museum within the spa town of Aubusson in the Val de Mareine. Historically, the Grand Bandar was a grandiose mountainside resort utilised by the elements of both aristocratic and industrial society.
Prior to the Great War the mountainside resort became a popular destination for holidaying amongst the upper ranks of the Parti Populaire, so much so that Rafael Duclerque - the Gaullican Premier at the time - acquired the building for himself. Made impractical and thoroughly bombed during the Great War, the building fell into disrepair and ruin.
Following a failed attempted rebuilding and reopening in a new architectural style, it was bought by the Gaullican state in the 1950s to serve as a museum of anti-functionalism as well as catalogue the foundation of the Gaullican Republic.
Internationally renowned for its reconstruction and change in architectural style, the Grand Bandar receives an average of 6.7 million tourists a year. Notable exhibits include a preserved room utilised by Duclerque and a room dedicated to the preserved speeches of Albert Montecardé.
- 1 Background and history
- 2 Noteworthy historical occurrences
- 3 Architecture
- 4 Usage as a museum
- 5 In fiction
Background and history
In the early 18th century, Charles X commissioned his court to locate a suitable location in the country, far from the Ile de Fleur, for the royal family to have their winter retreat. Originally a far smaller complex, the winter residency was decided to encompass the monarch's passions: hiking, painting, hunting and exploration. Bonhomme, who led the royal's mission into purchasing land, was suitably impressed by a location near the small mountainside village of Aubusson.
Purchasing a plot of land for the monarch originally proved difficult due to a lack of interest in selling from Charles Armand, the count of Montsesleaux. Armand was not interested in selling and it was only when he died in 1703 that his widow sold the land to Bonhomme at a significantly lower price than the royals were originally interested in paying. The Imperial Estate logged its payment for the plot of land outside of Aubusson as "inconsequential". The following year, Charles died of complications from stomach ulcers and the project remained in limbo for some time.
However, by 1707, at the request of Charles' son Louis - who now ruled - the establishment of a winter residency at Aubusson continued. His specific interests varied from his father and the grounds were expanded to include room for fishing, horse back riding and extensive shooting. Louis also ordered a library to be constructed.
Much of the work was undertaken by the architect Anne-Hilarion, who was renowned at the time for the facades of numerous royal residences in the capital of Verlois. By this point the residency itself had taken the name of the "petit palais d'Aubusson", often just the "petit palais". It was actually named Château d'Aubusson, but the name was not as popular within writings between the aristocracy as its nickname.
Throughout the succeeding decades the town of Aubusson grew into a resort in and of itself, becoming an iconic spa town for both middle class travellers and the nobility of the empire.
The petit palais had become famous by the 1730s and it was used as a hotbed of activity during the winter and spring months. It became the hosting grounds of lavish 'peasant themed' balls and soirees, as well as a location for the aristocracy to socialise away from the capital city. Favoured elements of high society were invited to the grounds; with countless writers, poets, philosophers and artists taking up residency at the request of the royals. Jacques Prévost, the famed writer of his day, wrote perhaps his most famous work at the chateau: The Adventures of Usbek of Yeruham.
Louis VI's brothers, like much of the extended imperial family, took an immense liking to the grounds and had them expanded through their own pockets. Prince Jean-Frederic had the surrounding countryside converted by way of agricultural produce and took to growing and maintaining his own pear, apple and cherry orchards.
For much of the remainder of the 18th century, little changed. In the 1790s however much of the chateau was burnt to the ground by way of a fire in the nearby woodlands and Francois III, who cared little for the property, did not prioritise its restoration. It fell to other members of the house to try to maintain and restore the chateau to its former glory, but little succeeded. The property turned little profit, its fruit orchards had fallen out of fashion and other resorts and retreats took the popularity away from the petit palais.
When he ascended to the throne in April of 1814, Louis VII visited the grounds and decided that it was time to abandon the property. It was an advertised affair with individuals promised to own "once royal land". There were even discussions of putting the property up for sale via lottery, but ultimately the crown sold both the property and the land privately in a direct deal to Jacques Vabre; a tea, coffee and chocolate tycoon who intended on creating an idealised tea-house and cafe on the property in the style of "a Euclean ganomé". Vabre thought of creating a large, multifaceted complex in the town of Aubusson to not only cater to the needs of the guests who arrived but to provide food and drink to nobility who had found Aubusson a fashionable place to travel.
Despite the secluded location, Vabre's establishment earned a reputation very quickly upon its opening. The "Cafe du Desebau" styled itself as an "austral experience" and fashioned its hot drinks in the style of heavily spiced beverages. It was so popular of an establishment that newspapers from the time in Montsesleaux described that there were daily exoduses from the upper-class of the city as they journeyed to take their tea at the cafe.
By the 1830s, however, Vabre had fallen on hard times. He was forced to sell the property and its land to cover his debts to Maurice Dudevant. Dudevant, who had made a fortune in mining in Gaullica's Bahian possessions and who had acquired a taste for the hospitality business in the city of Adunis, had decided to settle on creating a hotel in the town of Aubusson. He figured its historical significance and story, as well as the neighbouring town, would facilitate a large and elite reputation.
Once the property was acquired Dudevant had its development managed by his daughter; Lucile Dudevant. Lucile proved to be an astute and effective businesswoman and spared little to no expense. She wished to recreate the grandeur of what had been a once royal residence and commissioned a young Charles Labrouste into creating her "Grand Hotel" in a new, revolutionary style. This hotel became the 'Grand Bandar', named for the Pardarani word for 'port' which fit with her idea that this would be a safe place for comers and goers.
The Dudevants pursued an aggressive marketing campaign to publicise the opening of their hotel; inviting the artistic strata of society, the royals and the most high profile individuals in the empire to its grand opening. Rooms were named after the guests who took them first. Lucile even reinvited Vabre to operate a cafe within the hotel, further increasing the profile of their newly opened business.
Originally opening with 100 rooms, a restaurant, its famed Vabre Cafe, communal and private bathing facilities and an outdoor exercise complex, the 'Grand Bandar' became a success story overnight. The guests who were invited considered themselves privileged and of an elite status and class, and the appearance of Gaullica's newly crowned Empress Evelin stole the show. Her highly public appearance, including having the most luxurious suite named after her, had an incredible impact on the publicity the hotel received. The 'Grand Opening' in 1852 was such a celebrated affair in the socialite circles that it was referred to in numerous newspapers and novels of the day.
By the 1880s the hotel had been expanded incredibly to include two extra wings, bringing the room total to 398. The building was extensively refurbished in 1888 to include telephone connections, functioning ensuite lavatories and bathrooms and internal electrical lighting. Under Lucile's management the hotel had be granted numerous awards and an "imperial medal for hospitality". The largest suites were entirely reserved for the members of the royal family and, as such, it became a hotbed for intellectual purposes and discussions, featuring in the works of the individuals who would come to reside there.
Internationally renowned for its extravagance, the Dudevants' had become a mainstay of the social circles of the Gaullican elite. So courted was there favour that countless events were hosted at the hotel; including the anniversary celebrations of the marriage between Emperor Albert III and his wife Empress Stéphanie.
The hotel fell on hard times during the economic recession of the 1910s with much of the clientele not returning to the hotel due to their economic woes. The imperial family distanced themselves from the elitism of the establishment, hoping to 'relate' to the struggling populace. By this time, the iconic Lucile Dudevant had died as well - further throwing the business into disarray.
With the election of Rafael Duclerque's Parti Populaire in 1919, the hotel's operation and continued practice was deeply thrown into question given the economic policies advocated by the functionalists. Further, their social policies and 'zero-tolerance' to sex-work brought grave concern to the operation of the town of Aubusson in general. The Dudevants were forced to close the iconic hotel for the last time in the spring of 1921, when the Parti Populaire nationalised the building and Rafael Duclerque took the hotel for his own residency.
Utilising the hotel as a piece of propaganda as well as a winter residency, Duclerque changed little of the interior of the hotel. Privately, he admired the building and its history. Publicly, he used it as a tool of the state to show off his capabilities as an iconic statesman. He would host state functions at the Grand Bandar, as well as allow Albert IV and his family access to the hotel.
The onset of the Great War changed the function of the hotel again. Much of the furnishing was removed and placed in storage and it was taken over for military purposes as a central command point for the Gaullican defence forces in the Val de Mareine.
As the Grand Alliance continued their advance in the early 30s, the building was bombed by the Soravian and Kirenian air forces. Much of the structural integrity of the building was damaged, with both its newer wings collapsing on themselves.
For two years after the end of the war the fate of the building was unknown. However it was freely given back to the Dudevants by the post-war government of the UCT. The building underwent extensive rebuilding and remodelling, with the original furnishings mostly intact, by way of Lucile's son Pascal Dudevant. Pascal considered himself to be an architect and designed the building by way of the new modernist building styles; which was both praised and criticised.
The Grand Re-Opening of the Grand Bandar in 1948, which was delayed and far more expensive than anticipated, flopped. Whilst much attention was given in both the press and the public eye, the guests who returned did not contribute to its economic success. Pascal was forced to sell by 1952, 100 years following the original opening of the Grand Bandar. The hotel was purchased by the Gaullican state, which decided its best purpose and usage by the Parti Populaire would lend it to be a good museum on anti-functionalism.
As a Museum
Since its acquisition by the Gaullican State the Grand Bandar has served the purposes of a museum; specifically on the periods relating to the rise of the Parti Populaire and anti-functionalist activity. This was chosen not only as a stark reminder, but the building's symbolic reconstruction in a new style was decided to "represent a shift in the national mentality" as a "rejection of Gaullica's monarchism and authoritarianism".
The Gaullican government acquired countless pieces of functionalist objects and items during the process of defunctionalisation. Often times the government would forcefully remove functionalist items from convicted criminals, repossessing their possessions for usage in the museum.
In 1989 a section of the museum was dedicated to the formation and disclosed activities of 'DENAT', Gaullica's secret police that helped assist in defunctionalisation and rooting out right-wing cells during the post war.
Noteworthy historical occurrences
The Grand Bandar was chosen as the venue in which the armistice that effectively ended the War of the Triple Alliance would be signed. In attendance would be the heads of state and foreign ministers of Estmere, Werania, Kirenia and Gaullica. The hotel publicised the affair as hosting "the monarchs of Euclea".
In 1867 the Viscount Donnchadha of Caldia was staying at the hotel. As reported by his fellow guests, at around 8:15, when he was scheduled for his dinner at the hotel's restaurant, he fell through one of the internal windows into the luxurious Cour d'argent, an internal garden and courtyard. He told hotel staff that he was "tired and emotional" before two prostitutes emerged and asked after the viscount's health. They then left with the Viscount, reportedly helping him return to his room to nurse his bruises.
Throughout its existence, the Grand Bandar catered to the needs of the Gaullican monarchy. Evelin's funeral wake was held at the hotel, as were the receptions of Albert III's marriage and his subsequent wedding anniversary parties.
In November of 1893, Albert III and his ministers hosted an important delegation from Xiaodong. The Empires of Gaullica and Xiaodong had close military, economic and commercial ties. The success of the meeting was expected to reinforce the elements of Gaullophilia within the Xiadongese government, as well as convince domestic opinion of the necessity of Xiaodongese partners. During the talks, the guests were invited to a meal cooked by the chef of the Xiyong Emperor. The intense heat and spice utilised in rongzhuo cuisine was too intense for much of the Gaullican delegation save for the Emperor, who had accustomed himself to foreign food in his youth. Albert wrote within his journal that he and the Xiadongese ambassador were "suppressing fits of laughter" for much as the evening, as different ministers excused themselves for "more wine".
The highly popular functionalist propaganda piece "Traitors!" was filmed at and on the grounds of the Grand Bandar, where its iconic facade and recognisable architecture was used to evoke feelings of nationalism and disappointment in the government for failing to halt the economic crisis of the 1910s.
Noteworthy guests and permanent residents
Perhaps the most famous individual who resided within the hotel was its manager; Lucile Dudevant. Lucile was regarded as an "eccentric curiosity" of her time, but built a rapport with much of the guests who would come to stay at the hotel. An avid smoker, she would smoke cigars, drink and gamble with her workers. She was known to patrol the grounds dressed in a man's uniform, and often penned criticisms of art and philosophy in her spare time. 'Madame Dudevant' was a centre piece of the hotel itself.
Following the Treaty of Ulan Khol that concluded the Soravian Civil War, Ivan VI of Soravia was exiled from his home. He was granted asylum in Gaullica, his nation's historic ally, and upon visiting the Grand Bandar was said to have been 'smitten by its decor' and class. The Dudevants, knowing the prestige of the Emperor in Exile, invited him and his immediate family to live within one of its suites, which became known as the Soravian Suite in his honour. The pretenders of the Soravian throne and several members of the house of Ryksmark-Halte-Herdorf would find the Soravian Suite their home until the functionalists acquired the building 1921.
From 1839 until his death in 1845 Ioannis Charitou, the exiled Grand Duke of Alikianos, resided in the hotel. He was famed for hosting numerous meetings between Piraean resistance fighters and leaders and those in the Gaullican government who were sympathetic to the idea of an independent Piraea to check on Etruria. Charitou was notorious for his long drinking hours at the Vabre Café, as well as greeting the other guests with a flamboyant "για ανεξαρτησία!" (for independence!). His wife, Rallia Charitou, continued to live in the hotel until her death almost fourteen years later. From the Grand Bandar, Rallia wrote famous works of Piraean literature and political theses on the necessity of a Piraean state.
The famous Gaullican playwright Jean-Baptiste Loupe resided in the building from 1917 to 1920, when he fled Gaullica to Westbrücken in Werania. Following the reopening of the hotel in 1948 an elderly Loupe returned to the Grand Bandar; upon entering the hotel foyer he kissed the entrance. An attendent reportedly asked him "Monsieur a laissé tomber quelque chose?" ("Sir, have you dropped something?"); Loupe replied "Non, j'ai retrouvé quelque chose" ("No, I have recovered something").
The Dudevants hired Jean-Paul Gassé, regarded to be amongst the forefront of his field, to design the façade of the building. Through a combination of historic architectural styles in Gaullica, he designed an eclectic building. Gassé, who had also worked on numerous projects in Gaullica such as the restoration of Verlois' Place de Chloé described his work on the Grand Bandar as "a testimony to new appreciation for refreshing architecture".
Its internal garden was laid out in the traditional Gaullican style; symmetrical and mathematical.
Despite its style, it was quickly refurbished within 50 years of its construction and was the first Euclean hotel to provide a telephone service as well as outfit its eventual almost 400 rooms with ensuite bathrooms and electrical wiring.
At 8 floors tall, including the rooms in its roof, the Grand Bandar boasted an impressive restaurant, the famed Vabre Cafe and facilities for sports and grounds for shooting and hunting.
Rooms, Suites and Interior Gardens
In a great display of publicity, the Grand Bandar named the rooms and suites it provided after the first individuals to book them in an attempt to build a "universal history" for the hotel. Everything was planned to commemorate its own fame; and as such, individuals vied for the more expensive rooms to leave their marks on it. The most notable of these was its Montecardé Suite, named for the imperial family.
A self-circulated brochure of the hotel described its rooms as: "spacious, luxurious, imperial and of the highest quality". By 1910 each room was outfitted with en-suite bathrooms, running water, electrical lighting and a telephone connection. The rooms themselves varied, with most rooms of their "standard quality". The standard quality rooms offered brass beds with goose feather pillows and duvets, quartz and marble counter-topped bathrooms with spacious baths decorated with "angels with pitchers" as taps, large windows that provided natural light and unique, customised antiques that fitted the first inhabitant of the room. In the 'Montecardé Suite', for example, Empress Evelin left behind a portrait of her family, a hand written letter thanking the staff that was framed and a sword.
The 'superior suites', such as the 'Montecardé Suite', were around double in size and dominated the top floor of the building. They were also prioritised for the staff service, as well as equipped with complimentary silken robes, soft peach-coloured towels and 'guaranteed fireplaces'. Notoriously, the superior suites were allowed access to "attendants" that would cater to the fireplace as well as play music if required.
The Grand Bandar had three internal interior gardens, but the most famous was the Cour d'argent. The Cour was famed for its three fountains, peach and orange trees that guests were free to take fruit from and birds. Birds from across the empire were imported and kept at the gardens. Many often died due to the lack of a proper environment, so guests were welcome to purchase the birds for their own use.
Restaurants, Bars and Amenities
At its zenith in the first decade of the 1900s, the Grand Bandar boasted: an exclusively breakfast serving restaurant, the 'Oie d'or' (the Golden Goose), the five-starred lunch and dinner restaurant and the famed 'Vabre Café'.
Both restaurants and the bar catered exclusively to Gaullican cuisine, though served seasonal 'exotic' specials. Though the main chef staff was integral, auxiliary and 'guest' chefs were invited to cook. Scandal was caused in the early 1890s when Zhang Liuxian, the famed chef of the Xiyong Emperor, was invited to cook for a stately delegation hosted at the hotel.
Several dishes are apocryphally attributed to being created by the chefs of the Oie d'or, including the croque monsieur, the religieuse and the steak tartare. Though none were actually invented by the chefs of the Oie, they were certainly popularised around the world by their inclusion on the famed menus.
Despite the famed status of the Oie d'or, it was the Vabre Café that was internationally renowned as the "traditional" place to dine within the hotel. This reputation was strange given that the Café did not actually serve lunch or dinner, only serving food for tea, but was more so a bar and a hot drinks dispensary. There are claims that numerous cocktails were invented within the Café, including the Bloody Mary and the black rose cocktail.
For recreational purposes, the Grand Bandar had extensive grounds for sports outside of the actual building. Polo, horse racing, hunting and falconry were offered by the hotel; as were more "peaceful" activities such as gardening, horticulture and brewing. The hotel had rebuilt some of the orchards that had historically dominated the surrounding countryside and even began to rebottle ciders.
In 1901 the hotel added a 'Tsabaran Bath' to its facilities as well as the increasingly popular indoor swimming pool. Both were a remarkable success and were utilised by the hotel's guests as means to partake in watersports.
Usage as a museum
When acquired by the Gaullican state in 1952, there was a decision within the cabinet as to what to do with the property. Sotirien Roche entertained the possibility of operating it as a form of nationalised hotel; allowing individuals a historic experience on state property. However, many were concerned with the feasibility of restoring the grandiose reputation the establishment had held; especially following Pascal's own failures.
Though seen as a trivial decision, it fell to Roche to decide its future. After a day of deliberation, it is said he returned to the cabinet with the idea of a museum not only denouncing functionalism -- but preserving elements of the hotel to showcase both it and a rejection of the ideals that had, at the end, inhabited the building.
Roche formed a committee of individuals, including Pascal, to plan out how the museum would function and operate. Pascal was chosen to serve as its curator and was given the choice over which rooms would be specifically preserved to showcase them for the future. The building, for the second time within ten years, was extensively refurbished with whole sections of the hotel being categorised into different elements of a museum on anti functionalism. Specific exhibits include the functionalist view on race and gender relations, atrocities committed by the regime, its anti-democratic action and the cult of personality that built around Rafael Duclerque.
Preserved in its entirety, the original reception and foyer of the hotel doubled as the entrance to the museum -- but also as an exhibit in its own right. The portrait that Lucile Dudevant had commissioned of herself hangs in the entrance way, a plaque detailing the importance of the woman to the establishment and success of the business. The preservation of the hotel was considered important to understand how elements of history could be co-opted into meanings outside of their intentions.
In addition to the foyer and reception, of the original 300 rooms -- 30 were chosen to be preserved as historical pieces. These included the Montecardé Suite, which was kept entirely as it was in its original inception and still fully functions as an actual residence. Across each room are around 400 pieces of historical memorabilia, gifts given the hotel, and items of significant personal and economic value.
The primary purpose of its museum function was dedicated anti-functionalist history. The left wing of the hotel was repurposed to serve this purpose, dedicating floors to the cult of personality that are still featured exhibits of the museum. Other floors include a dedicated exhibit to the freedom fighters, the socialists, liberals and monarchists in exile who continued to oppose the regime, and the counter coup launched by Alexandre Verninac in April of 1920.
Donated to the hotel include the documents written by Verninac and his officers in their plan to overthrow the functionalist regime, correspondences between socialists and monarchists in Kirenia and Cassier -- including the infamous 'Yellow Letter' -- and countless pieces of functionalist propaganda, including those filmed at the hotel.
In 2010 the museum curator unveiled a new exhibit that was so popular it became a mainstay of its anti-functionalist wing. What has become known as the "DENAT Exhibit" are two floors within the anti-functionalist exhibit that focuses on the formation, usage and declassified information pertaining to the 'Département national pour la transition démocratique'. Their efforts in combating functionalism and preventing its resurgences in Gaullican politics were classified as "extreme importance" by the museum, especially as more and more documents were being procured of their efforts.
Art and Literature
Beginning in 2002, to mark 50 years since the successful renovation, the Grand Bandar began to house an extensive display of art and literature that had been created in or was about the Hotel. To commemorate this exhibit numerous highly sought after pieces were donated to the hotel, or are traded between museums in loaning schemes. Most famously the Prévost estate donated the original draft and one of the early copies of The Adventures of Usbek of Yeruham.
Notable pieces include the feature film The Grand Bandar from 2014.
Most, but not all, of the works of Rallia Charitou are featured at the Grand Bandar to highlight the fact all of them were written whilst she lived at the hotel.
Given the reputation of the hotel, as well as its association with the upper class throughout all its existence, and the individuals who lived within it including an accomplished class of writers the Grand Bandar has been directly referenced within literature as well as the inspiration for numerous hotels across all genres.
Perhaps the most known work of fiction detailing with the Grand Bandar is the 2014 movie by Jean-Marie Chaney. Detailing a partially fictionalised history of the hotel, from its foundation to closing, it was developed in collaboration with the museum as well as Gaullica's historical societies. The plot largely follows the story of a young Tsabaran immigrant and hotel porter at the Grand Bandar named Laji, loosely based upon Rimon Ressam, as he helps the eccentric Monsieur Cazenave (Gaétan Cazenave) guide the hotel from its last days of splendour, to its eventual functionalist takeover.
The Vice of Vernet, the first book that featured fictional detective Étienne-Alastair Bassot, created by Guillaume Mazet, is set at the Grand Bandar. The Vice of Vernet follows the private detective as he navigates a most difficult situation. Hired by Lucile Dudevant, Bassot is tasked with discovering who of the hotel's iconic guests murdered the elderly Duke of Transaventines. The hotel serves as the entire location in which the story takes place, with Bassot forced to navigate delicate political intrigue and subterfuge whilst stonewalled in his investigation. The book was famed and praised for its use of real events, including the Viscount Donnchadha of Caldia falling through an internal window.
Many of Rallia Charitou's nationalistic poetry, that spoke of Piraeans needing a home, would reference the Grand Bandar. Charitou's Spíti, translated to home, references how "like I have found a home in the Grand Bandar, so too must the Piraeans make a home out of Piraea".
The final level of the first person shooter 'Assault on Chateau Payrac" is modelled off of the hotel, and has often appeared in its sequels as a bonus level.