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The “rust” years (1988-2000)

The Holding “Grand Sud” (1988/2000)


1988, Dirty time for the Lydia. The “Sands Liner” never really recovered from the 1983 bombing and Roland Vonné, the reference of the Barcarésian nights, left three years ago. Concerning the interiors, the luxurious decoration of the “Tsutsumi era” is completely out of fashion. Due to a lack of maintenance, the ship is deteriorating and the cost of refurbishment is becoming prohibitive. This state of affairs led to the Lydia being put up for sale by the Moliflor group. In the meantime, a certain number of elements of the ship disappeared, such as furniture and many other things. Let’s mention in bulk the instruments in the bridge, the chandelier in the staircase, the superb mahogany table with a diameter of three meters on which the name ΛΥΔΙΑ is affixed.

In short, it is an almost empty hull that is sold to the “Grand Sud” holding company.

Despite the fact that a facelift is negotiated at the sale, the liner is repainted succinctly, which will become a habit during the next 12 years.

Concerning the interior design, the discotheque is redecorated in an “industrial” style and takes a new name: « La Machinerie ». The gray dominates, the pipes are visible. You can touch the bare shell.

The casino concentrates its activity on the first floor in the back room and in the concrete “Blockhaus” which serves as an entrance and which has disfigured the line of the “Sands liner” for five years. The B deck, on the other hand, is used as an auditorium, in what was the luxurious casino of the “Tsutsumi era”. Large asleep lounge where a white plaster has replaced the red lacquers…

The B deck


A restaurant takes place on the front beach: the “sea side”, with a low-cost decoration.

A touristic tour of the ship was opened and a seashell exhibition was set up on the B deck before, where the old piano-bar had been.

A few months later, the casino obtained authorization to install slot machines.

Unfortunately, nothing was going well for a long time. The economic crisis set in. Revenues did not cover expenses and maintenance was cut back.

Air conditioners and other warts were added to the hull, hiding even more the line of the liner. 

In 1992, the local newspaper « l’Indépendant » was even moved by the state of the rusty carcass of the liner which disfigured the city. The ” Sands liner” is now a wreck and the tourist visit is closed.

Copyright: The newspaper "l'Indépendant"

The decks are leaking, the railings are disintegrating, the rotten wood is eaten by mushrooms. The boats are removed from the deck and some are sold!

In some places, concrete is even poured on the decks, when they are not covered with tar…

On the sea side (port side) a large esplanade made of cobblestones surrounds the hull and some unsightly constructions are attached to the ship. From now on, on the land side or on the sea side, it is very difficult to find an acceptable point of view for souvenir pictures. So much so that the Lydia disappeared from the postcards and the autochtones were ashamed to indicate the direction of the liner to the rare tourists who still asked about its location…

The same year, and in the face of the outcry, some quick work was undertaken and a rumor even spoke of a sale to a group called “la générale immobilière.”

Alas, the deal was not done, and the Lydia continued to deteriorate. To finish off this poor ship, the Ministry of the Interior closed the casino in 1997. 

For the next three years, the ghost ship was a shadow of its former self: the illuminated sign collapsed, the funnel was pierced, and all the upper decks were closed and disintegrating in indifference. The operating deficit becomes abyssal.

Boat deck
The bridge
Boat deck

However, in 2000, the Partouche group, one of the two major French casino groups, acquired the “sands liner”…

To be continued…

The rest of her story : HERE

                                                                  Olivier Alba

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