Sunday, March 2, 2014

21. French Seaside Dream, 1960s


In the 1960s the small seaside town, only a few miles west of the Vietnam border, must have been the dream of many prospective real-estate buyers from France and developers alike. The land along the coast was pretty much all parceled off according to French urban planning, and today one can see here again the lonely property walls and now rusted, grand iron gates, familiar from Sihanoukville. Only very few completed 'dream villas' can be found today. 

Those who were the first to act, buy the land, hire engineers, architects and contractors and build a residence "in the colonies" lost the most. First the Lon Nol regime, and only a few years later, the Khmer Rouge put an end to the dreams, the sites were left abandoned, and some of the finished villas were used for rocket target practice by the communist "farmer-guerrilla", and this is still the state we find them in today.

Very few can be seen in a good condition, recently restored, and occupied. Many, even the one's in the most splendid "million-dollar-view" locations are home to squatters, extremely poor families from the countryside.

The entire seaside town has the most fabulous beaches, the whitest sand, and, -at least now during the dry season-, the best climate.

This 'modern architecture museum' with the few remnants of the French modernist villas is one of my favored sites to see in Cambodia.

Except for the local Khmer weekend tourists from Phnom Penh, tourism is almost zero. The onslaught of the dreaded Chinese tourist groups hasn't happened yet, but eventually it will, of course.

Now it is just beautiful here.

I like this picture: Kids and their mother live in this ruin.
The location characteristics are similar to the French coast at the Cote d'Azur, near Cap d'Antibes, where such a house and its site would run in the double digit million Euro range.

Nice Le Corbusier inspired design of a vacation villa from the 1960s, one of the very few completed.

French "milestone graveyard", Kep.
Another picture I like a lot. It reminds me of the "Chabert & Guillot" Montelimar nougat in the cardboard milestone boxes my dad used to buy when we drove to Southern France for summer vacation.

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