Originally, Beuzeval was a small village made up of farms and small houses. Between 1845 and 1850, sea bathing came to Beuzeval.The first guest house was opened for poor protestant families . Then tourists came from Caen and Paris. A boarding house was built which attracted protestant gentry. Beuzeval became Beuzeval-les-Bains.
Steadily the resort developped with the building of a kursaal (both a casino and baths) in the 1870s. In 1877 the Imbert Hôtel was built on the sea side and welcomed many rich protestants.
In the middle of the 18th century, Houlgate was still undeveloped, on the north bank of the Drochon (a river that splits the resort in two parts).
In 1858, a S.C.I. (Société de Construction Immobilière) was set up. The idea was to develop with an urban plan. The owners of the SCI bought most of the land and divided it into parts and drew the lines of the future streets and roads.
Through the year huge magnificent villas of different architectural styles were built and were usually called “chalets”. Aubin Albin Vergniolle decide to build a large hotel and asked Baumier to draw the plan of a 120 bedroom hotel with terraces and views of the sea. An extension was built in 1896 to offer 350 bedrooms. The Grand Hôtel provided its customers with the finest service. Dinner was served early in its large dining room and customers only had to walk through a luxurious garden to reach the casino.
In 1860, the chapel of Notre-Dame de Houlgate was built. It replaced the old church which was situated too far inland and had become too small to accommodate the growing population and visitors.
Subsenquently to the Grand Hôtel, a casino and hydrotherapy baths were built.
Its aim was to entice swimmers and provide cabins. It also offered hot sea water baths.
A new sea resort was born, Houglate.
In 1882, the railway was built and a station was set up between the two villages.
First connected with Mézidon Canon, the line to Villers sur Mer was finished in 1884, linking Houlgate directly and Paris.
More holiday makers came to Houlgate as its reputation grew.
Many villas were built throughout the years and Houlgate developed at the expense of Beuzeval-les-Bains.
In 1898, the town was renamed Beuzeval-Houlgate.
The Grand Hôtel was enlarged again in 1895 with the building of a rotunda. The promenade was finished in 1911.
Naturally, the town was cut in half with the Catholics prefering the north side and the Protestant the south side. Hence the Protestant Queen Ranavalo of Madagascar's visit to Beuzeval-Les-Bains and the visit of Queen Isabelle II of Spain to Houlgate's Grand Hotel.
In 1905, the town became Houlgate. During World War I, the French Army requistioned all the hotels and some villas to turn them into hospitals. The Grand Hotel reopened after World War II, never again attaining with the success of its glorious years. It had to be closed and divided into appartments.
Houlgate is still a family sea resort which has managed to preserve its unique heritage throughout the years. Many villas are still in remarkable condition and can be admired from the streets. And it is the only sea resort in Normandie with unblemished villas in front of the beach with the added luxury of no roads in front of the beach.
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