800px-Le_Lydia (2)

The end of the « casinos era » (2000-2011)

 As the 21st century dawns, the Lydia is a shadow of its former self. The casino is closed, the maintenance is limited to a quick bleaching every June, the sea spray and the humidity favor the proliferation of rust spots and the wood is eaten by mushrooms. It is in this atmosphere of end of reign that the « Sands Liner » will still make speak about hem.

Indeed, in 2000, the Partouche group, the first casino group in France, acquired the Lydia with a view to reopening yet another casino. It was done in March of the same year. The Lydia Invest company, of which the liner is one of the assets, was acquired for the symbolic euro, with the Partouche group responsible for paying off the debts, which amounted to 20 millions francs at the time (source: l’Indépendant newspaper). A director was quickly appointed and the founder of the group, Isidore Partouche, even paid a visit to his 50th future ex-casino. 

When she arrived, Mrs. Partouche could not hold back a cry of horror “Isidore, you didn’t buy this! This is the state in which the liner is, a ghostly silhouette standing on a deserted beach.  

Nevertheless, a file for the reopening of the casino was filed with the Ministry of the Interior.

The upper deck copyright : french ministère de la culture

Four years went by during which nothing or almost nothing was done on board. Worse still, the new person in charge cut up and ransacked entire sections of the ship: the aft mast was removed, as well as the arms of the cargo masts. On the boat deck, the davits and bows were discarded, giving a ghostly and empty look to the already battered silhouette of the Lydia.

In short, the liner is transformed into a bathtub toy. A decor. Beautiful from afar but far from being beautiful.

Copyright: ministère de la culture

After four years, in February 2004, and after three unsuccessful requests, the casino finally obtained its authorization to open.

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Unfortunately. It is necessary to open for the touristic season and on board everything remains to be done, one will confuse once again speed and precipitation. Of course, the hull was entirely sandblasted, allowing the metal to be found in good condition under 30 layers of paint, and the envelope of the funnel was changed, completely rotten.

The wood will be sanded, damaging it irreparably. 

Worse still, the decks will be covered with wooden terrace boards to “clean up” and whiten the

whole ship, giving her the sad look of a hospital ship. The windows and doors on the upper deck are closed and blocked.

White ansd only white: The gost ship

Inside, not much better: Nothing to do with a “roaring twenties” liner atmosphere and three quarters of the Lydia remain in a state of ruin.

 The original social-hall, the staircase and the smoke- room where the restaurant is located still remain.

The restaurant on the "promenade deck"
The social hall
the smoking-room
The staircase

The night-club receives a new decoration.

Tea parties are organised for senior citizeh.

In fact when one makes badly, one does not go very far. And it is what will occur. After a few years of operation the restaurant inexplicably closes while its success had not been denied.

In 2008, the opening of a casino in the neighboring city, as well as a bad management will make once again sink the liner. After only 4 years, the casino-discotheque will close, once again. It then sleeps for a period of three years during which no buyer presents himself to exploit an umpteenth casino…

After four successive failures, nobody wants to try the adventure anymore….but the “Sand liner” is really insinkable…

To be continued…

The rest of the story: HERE

                                                                                Olivier Alba

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