an entire, old, listed Royal tin factory
To the south of the Greater Nancy Area, on the southern edge of the Lorraine region, on the border of that of Franche-Comté and in the direction of Burgundy.
The major north-south link provided by the A31 motorway is 52 km away and puts Luxembourg-Ville 216 km away and Paris 365 km away, the journeys respectively taking some 2¾ and 4⅓ hours.
The town of Basel in Switzerland is 161 km away and the journey to the slightly nearer Basel-Mulhouse international airport takes about 1¾ hours.
Épinal station, 28 km away, has direct TGV train links to the French capital.
Épinal-Mirecourt airport, 52 km away, is ideal for all private and business airplanes.
The spa town of Bains-les-Bains, the busiest in the region, is nearby with its spa centre and its park as well as numerous shops and schools.
The production of tinplate was to be succeeded by that of nails which was, in turn, replaced by clogs, made up until the industrial activity was stopped in 1951.
Somewhat neglected over the following years, the estate was purchased in 2004 by its current owners who carried out full, meticulous restoration and enhancement works which have made it one of today’s major, outstanding historic sites in the south of the Lorraine region.
This estate extends along a fast-flowing river and the Vosges canal, used solely for tourist purposes, in a valley, topped with woods on both sides. Facing south, copious amounts of sunshine make it an extremely pleasant and sought-after place.
Following on one after another, from the estate’s downstream entrance and going up towards the chateau, set in the middle in a slightly dominant position, are several old industrial buildings on one side and three houses as well as a large, luxurious home on the other.
The chateau, which stands behind these first buildings, is accompanied by a chapel constructed in a corner of its main courtyard, and is looked down on by the large, luxurious home, known as the “Maison des Contremaîtres” (the foreman’s house).
Below the chateau can be seen the “Maison du Mécanicien” (the mechanic’s house) and, even further down, two more houses, the old “Étamerie” (plating shed) and the “Maison du Baron” (the Baron’s house).
Further on, going up towards the upstream section of the estate, another four old staff houses are to be found, before reaching a large meadow and, lastly, a water reservoir on the upper limit of the estate.
Behind the chateau, extensive parklands are laid out in tiers along the left-hand side of the wooded valley, dotted with parterres and clearings.
The chateau is occupied by the owners of the estate, whilst the other buildings have been converted for use as follows: the large, luxurious home is rented on a standard lease; a hydroelectric plant is leased to a third-party operator; twelve dwellings are rented on an annual basis and ten holiday rental accommodation units are let to tourists in the summer season.
All this rental income means that the estate is self-financing.
The entire estate belongs to a French SARL (a limited liability company) and is offered for sale in the form of shares.
An association (governed by the French law of 1901) is responsible for organising and selling tickets to tourists visiting the Royal factory.
Constructed with a strictly rectangular layout between 1733 and 1737, this chateau spans three levels of living space, following the slope of the left-hand side of the valley and, because of the incline, the gable wall facing the bottom of the valley includes a lower level, the door of which provides access to the large rooms in the basement of the building.
Wrought iron railings surrounding the main courtyard, laid out in front of the chateau, include a gateway set between two dressed granite stone pillars, topped with capitals and sculpted stone balls. The chateau’s chapel closes the main courtyard, at right angles, on its right-hand side.
The chateau, topped with a hip roof, has sober looking facades which fortunately feature windows with segmental arch lintels as well as quoins.
The windows on the upper level are smaller than those on the lower levels, making the building appear to stand even taller.
A flight of rectangular steps leads from the main courtyard to a through vestibule, paved with stone, which provides access to all the rooms on this level, to the large stairway and, at its other end, to the parklands behind the chateau. Two perpendicular corridors, roughly in the middle of said vestibule, lead on either side to all the rooms.
On one side are four rooms of a very similar size: a dining room, with a marble floor, adorned with an elegant, scalloped-shaped bowl and an alcove, flanked with pilasters, an old billiards’ room, a small lounge, with herringbone pattern parquet flooring and, lastly, a large lounge, with Versailles pattern parquet flooring, a marble fireplace with its trumeau, as in the previous room, as well as an outstanding ceiling decorated with gold-leaf beading which depicts a geometric motif characteristic of the late 18th century or the Empire period. On the other side are a large kitchen with its impressive stone fireplace, reflecting the regional style, a back kitchen, a large room in use as a study and, lastly, another dining room, enhanced with herringbone pattern parquet flooring.
A wide, turning, sandstone stairway, with two intermediate landings, goes up to the first-floor landing set in the centre of the building. The two corridors on either side and the corridor facing the stairway, in the direction of the main courtyard, perfectly reflect the layout on the ground floor. The right-hand corridor leads to two suites of four guest bedrooms: the “Suite Cavour”, named after the famous man who stayed here during a journey in France, with a fireplace and a trumeau in both bedrooms, one of which is painted in a style much-appreciated in the 18th century, and the “Suite Rose”, again with marble fireplaces and Versailles pattern parquet flooring in one of the bedrooms. Each of the suites has a lovely shower room. On the other side of the central corridor are three bedrooms and a bathroom. All the bedrooms have alcoves and marble fireplaces, topped with trumeaux, depicting allegoric scenes and, for one, a scroll featuring raised, sculpted musical instruments. All of the decors on this floor are pleasantly enhanced in the central corridor with very long cupboards, featuring semi-concave corners. Made of a fruit wood, they exude a warm atmosphere.
With the same layout as the lower floors, this level comprises a landing, three corridors and eight large bedrooms. This floor still awaits renovation and has no modern-day home comforts. It could be used to create additional living space.
The cellars span the full floor surface area of the chateau, with five rooms separated by walls. The two biggest, illuminated via windows set in the wall of the lower section, have stone pillars supporting the arching. These rooms are used as storerooms, storage space and a winter orangery.
This chapel was constructed during the same era as the chateau and its bell-tower, slightly taller than the latter, marks its importance in the eyes of its founder. It is accessed via a semi-circular arched door, at the top of a short flight of walled steps, and topped with an oculus. The inside, with a single nave, is illuminated via four high, semi-circular arched windows, the coloured stained glass of which depicts bible scenes. The gallery housing the organ is all made of wood and the large wall paintings finish by giving it a plain and yet rich decor.
The industrial buildings
The biggest of the industrial buildings are aligned alongside the river at the bottom of the valley. They successively comprise the old “Halle aux Charbons” (coalhouse), then the workshops, where several holiday rental accommodation units, including a spacious one for a group, have been converted and, at the end, the “Nouvelle Étamerie” (new plating shed) installed in a building whose wonderful architecture includes five semi-circular arched windows, tall on the lower level and smaller on the top level. The renovated, wooden, small-paned window frames add even more elegance to this building, highly representative of the lovely 18th century architecture.
Facing these buildings are other more recent ones, with their sawtooth roofs. These include stables with horse loose boxes, an area that was a riding arena and a hall housing vintage cars.
And lastly, looking down on all of these buildings and in the direction of the chateau, a hydroelectric plant fed by a headrace canal from the estate’s upstream reserve. The running of the plant has been entrusted to a third-party operator.
The most illustrious of the houses is the “Maison des Contremaîtres” (the foreman’s house), just above the chateau’s chapel. This house was, in fact, the birthplace of Julie-Victoire-Daubié, the first girl to pass the French “Baccalauréat” exam, and has consequently been awarded the French “Maisons des Illustres” (Homes of the Great) label by the French Ministry of Culture. It has now been converted into two comfortable holiday rental accommodation units (with the French “3-épis” rating).
The “Maison du Mécanicien” (the mechanic’s house) stands near to the chateau on a lower level. It resembles a small, traditional, local farmstead, with its semi-circular arched, carriage door. Surrounded by a garden, it too has been converted into a holiday rental accommodation unit (with the French “3-épis” rating).
Below the hydroelectric plant and its headrace canal are two large houses: the old “Étamerie” (plating shed) and the “Maison du Baron” (the Baron’s house). These house two holiday rental accommodation units (with the French “5-star Clé Vacances” rating) and several dwellings rented on an annual basis.
Upstream of the estate, a worker’s house, the “Maison du Boulanger” (the baker’s house) where the estate’s bread oven is still to be found, and a large house, divided into two flats which are rented on an annual or seasonal basis.
And lastly, amongst the four houses to be found near the estate’s downstream entrance, three are rented on an annual basis and the biggest, the large luxurious home with its wealth of fireplaces and panelling, is rented on a standard lease.
The parklands and the large meadow
The parklands stretch out behind the chateau over a surface area of approx. 4.5 ha. A large lawn features in the vista from the chateau. Bordered by tall trees, hundreds of years old, it is set back from the rest of the estate and gives the chateau all the character expected of this type of building. Beyond this, the parklands extend along the side of the valley where forest copses alternate with clearings planted with outstanding species, catalpa, gingko-biloba and a twisted beech tree listed by UNESCO. They are also enhanced with an ice cave, characteristic of all noble estates in the 18th century.
Above the last of the houses, upstream from the chateau, a large meadow takes up the narrower part of the valley. It is home to a couple of Scottish Aberdeen-Angus cattle, with their superb coats and large horns reminiscent of those of aurochs.
A property bearing exceptional historic witness to the origins of the industrial world in the 18th century which has numerous and miscellaneous possibilities for leisure and use purposes.
The exploitation of a chateau with decor dating from the 18th century in the peace and quiet of a convivial, family setting could include sufficient annual or seasonal lets, something that is very rare, to cover all of the estate’s costs.
The possibility of a partial or total sale of some of the houses on the estate would also be an option.
Moreover, multiple uses come to mind: creation of a horse-riding centre with horse loose boxes as well as indoor and outdoor riding arenas, a studio for an artist seeking large premises, creation of a home for artists with the required number of studios, the housing of a vintage car collection, the setting up of an exhibition centre, or even, why not, reconnect with the site’s history and establish an art foundry.
All of these potential projects could be united in a cultural and meeting centre just like other prestigious sites such as Arc-et-Senans.
This “Manufacture Royale de Bains-les-Bains” (royal tin factory in Bains-les-Bains) would appear to have a future guaranteed to equal its past.
|Land registry surface area||20 ha 63 a 2 ca|
|Main building surface area||1335 m2|
|Outbuilding surface area||13500 m2|
Gilles Larosée       +33 1 42 84 80 85
NB: The above information is not only the result of our visit to the property; it is also based on information provided by the current owner. It is by no means comprehensive or strictly accurate especially where surface areas and construction dates are concerned. We cannot, therefore, be held liable for any misrepresentation.