Normandy: visit Granville in the footsteps of the Dior family

While everyone knows the great couturier Christian Dior today, the story of the Dior family is less well known. It is to highlight it that the town of Granville, in Normandy, has just launched a “Dior: architecture and industry” course, in order to highlight the family’s imprint “on the urban and architectural development of Granville.” It can be done on foot or by bicycle.

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A 12-stage journey in the footsteps of the Dior family in Granville

This route is dotted with 12 points of interest spread across Granville, a charming seaside resort in the bay of Mont Saint-Michel. Long before the birth of Christian Dior, the famous couturier, in Granville in 1905, his family had developed various economic activities there (fertilizer then the chemical industry) and built several houses. From the 1860s, the Dior family thus played an important economic role in the region, but not only: some members would be mayor of Granville, deputy, senator and even minister.

To discover this rich history, go to the station, inaugurated in 1870 for the bathing season, then enlarged in 1925 with an Art Deco-style building – the current station. From there, head to the chemical plant, which for 130 years was the biggest employer in the city, notably producing Dior bleach.

Houses, villas or even a school: the vast heritage of the Diors

Near the station is also the Calvaire bourgeois house, which Lucien Dior (1841-1909) had built around 1890. Visitors are then invited to head towards Val-ès-Fleurs, a rural and marshy place which was profoundly transformed by Louis Dior and his children. After the establishment of a small industrial center by Georges Dior, Val-ès-Fleurs saw the arrival of an electricity production plant and then a cork factory, on the eve of the First World War. When he died barely a year later, his widow decided to turn the cork factory into a holiday home with garden and tennis court, which would be nicknamed “La Bouchonnerie”.

Still in Val-ès-Fleurs, discover the Lanos doctor’s school, founded by Marguerite Dior Lanos and which welcomed its first students in 1955, but also the Meuse brewery and the Val-ès-Fleurs cider house (which designate not not production sites but beverage storage sheds).

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As part of the beautification project for Val-ès-Fleurs, various members of the family also had houses built – the houses on rue Boscq and the house at 15 boulevard d’Hauteserve, which Georges Dior had erected in 1900.

Two other villas not to be missed: the villa at 5 cours Jonville, an elegant mansion, and the villa “Les Rhumbs”, which closes the course. It was in this late 19th century villa that Christian Dior spent his early years. It was transformed into a museum in 1997. Impossible to finish this journey without mentioning the port of Granville, today the leading shellfish port in France, which supplies all of Europe with scallops, oysters and other lobsters. It was essential for the fertilizer manufacturing activities of the Diors.

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Visit the Christian Dior museum in Granville

Don’t leave Granville without having visited the Christian Dior museum, which organizes thematic exhibitions, for example around “the art of the hat from Christian Dior to Stephen Jones”. Beyond the events, visiting the Christian Dior museum in Granville is discovering the childhood villa of the great couturier, on two floors, which his parents bought in 1906.

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Highlight of the show? The Christian Dior garden, perched on top of a cliff, facing the Chausey Islands and the Channel Islands (Jersey and Guernsey), which offers a sublime view of the sea. The rose garden of Madeleine Dior, which runs along the Douaniers path , is a treat for the five senses, and allows you to discover the scent of the “Jardin de Granville” rose.

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For a sweet break, you can stop at the “La rose du Rocher” tea room, under the pergola, which notably offers tasty breakfasts and “tea times” made by a native chef from Granville.

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Normandy: visit Granville in the footsteps of the Dior family