Invisible Bordeaux first crossed the path of architect Hector Loubatié when researching the Ciné-Théâtre Girondin near Barrière de Pess...

Hector Loubatié’s architectural endeavours in Bordeaux and Pessac

Invisible Bordeaux first crossed the path of architect Hector Loubatié when researching the Ciné-Théâtre Girondin near Barrière de Pessac. It soon emerged that there were many more interesting examples of the Bordeaux-born architect's eclectic vocabulary to be uncovered in and around the city and its suburbs.  

Source: information
panel in Pessac
(Studio Norbert).
Hector Loubatié, whose real name was Jean Hector Césarin, was born in 1862. His father was a clerk and his mother was a tobacco worker. He was brought up in the vicinity of Rue Fondaudège and went on to marry Marie Jeanne Lucie from the wealthy Peynaud family in 1888. They moved a number of times but remained in the area, becoming parents to two sons and two daughters. However, “Lucie” died in November 1902, leaving Loubatié a widower aged 40.

One of Loubatié's earliest architectural endeavours was on Rue de Tauzia, a wide street that was opened in 1887 and which was originally earmarked to provide a swift and direct means of getting from Place de la Comédie to Saint-Jean railway station. A three-storey complex of rental flats he designed was completed there around 1892.

Loubatié's attentions then turned to the suburb of Pessac, where he later went on to become chief town architect. In the mid-1890s, Loubatié was commissioned by local dignitary François Pommez to design the chalet-like houses that were to be built in a leafy part of town, surrounding a casino that was set to attract patrons from Bordeaux thanks to the handy tram link. The casino was eventually short-lived, operating between 1897 and 1901 before being destroyed by a fire in 1905. There is no trace of it today (a modern house has taken its place), but the district is still known as “le Quartier du Casino” and serves as a veritable showcase for Loubatié's houses.

Mimosa, Rieuse, Girofla and Militona villas.

In all, sixteen Loubatié-designed houses were completed in 1898, delivered by the builder Charles Perriez. They were clearly inspired by the villas such as those conceived by Paul Régnauld that were already commonplace in Arcachon, where Loubatié owned a holiday residence. While the set is harmonious in terms of design, each house boasts idiosyncratic features such as spectacular bow windows and upper floors perched high up on towers! 

Loubatié’s Pessac legacy also includes the war memorial, inaugurated in 1928 on what is now known as Place de la Ve République. The bronze sculptures, produced by by the city of Bordeaux’s designated sculptor Gaston Veuvenot Leroux, depict soldiers on one side of the monument and a female scribe on the other, (Marianne, the incarnation of the French republic, perhaps?) writing the names of the victims of war in a manner suggesting we are viewing work-in-progress.

Back in Bordeaux, the early years of the twentieth century saw Loubatié producing more traditional town houses on Rue Mexico (in the Grand-Parc district), on Rue Jean-Soula (off Rue Judaïque), and at the intersection between Rue Berruer and Rue Levieux - now home to a dental practice and, appropriately enough, an architect.

Early 1900s houses at 45 Rue Mexico, on corner of
Rue Berruer and Rue Levieux, and on Rue Jean-Soula.

In 1908, Loubatié completed the best-known of his rare achievements outside Bordeaux, Cinéma Pathé (now Centre Rabelais museum) in Montpellier, which provided the blueprint for his spectacular Ciné-Théâtre Girondin masterpiece in 1919. Not all his works were quite so extravagant though. A sturdy, functional office building (where premises are currently available to let) still bears his signature on Rue de la Faïencerie down by the Garonne riverside in Bordeaux.

By 1930, Loubatié was focusing on town houses again. Back on Rue Mexico, Loubatié delivered a small block of houses at numbers 9, 11 and 13.

He owned and lived in the house at number 9, the façade of which comprises a curious bas-relief of a circular female face whose eyes are masked by two set-squares, and whose head is topped off with an open compass… all no doubt coded messages for Masonic counterparts who he may have frequented as a longstanding member of Société des Architectes de Bordeaux et du Sud-Ouest. It is in this modest house that Loubatié died in November 1939.


  1. Most of the old houses like you featured here, are so unique and very strong that's why they're still standing until today. They are built that last a century or even more. Awesome builder.

  2. Indeed, built to last! Thanks for the feedback from Perth!

  3. I Really appreciate your blog. Se met once at Tapa l'oeil.... Today post on The Ole stade led me here and now I wanted to recommend an idea for your research: I understand the nazi regime bulldozed a no-mans land around the base sous marine. I think it approached the rue fiancerie. But my historian friend Linda Martin knew nothing about it.

    I read somewhere, 300 meters? I suppose it's where they are now building all those new (ugly) residences around the Aldi and such....anyhow, please keep up the interesting works. Your Greenwich mean time meets the 42nd was one of my favorite descriptive posts. Thanks Daniel

    1. Hi there Daniel, thanks for your message, the suggestion and the feedback about the 45th parallel/Greenwich meridian piece, all very much appreciated.

      As regards the bulldozed land, I suppose it must be possible to compare aerial shots from around that time to see what changed. I'll see what I can find...