Explore #57: Sanatorium Delirium aka l’hôpital dans la forêt, France – May 2014

Explore #2 of the Operation Baguette tour

After exploring Chateau des Singes it was time to press on to our next target of the day – this semi-abandoned sanatorium buried deep in a French forest.

History
In the late 19th Century the French thought that seriously ill patients had to be housed away from their main hospitals. A committee comprising hospital doctors, members of the municipal council of Paris and of the Supervisory Board of Public Assistance, was formed to study measures to prevent the spread of tuberculosis, and to seek ways best to isolate and treat this illness.

After a long and continued debate in the neighbouring districts, the plans and specifications of this large sanatorium of 336,000 square meters were overseen by a gentleman who had previous experience of studying similar hospitals in Germany. The designs were to house a total of 250 beds between two similar houses – one for men, and the other for women.

The works were completed at an expense of 1,600,000 francs at the time, and according to historical records started in 13 July 1894 and the first building was opened in August 1900 with an initial capacity of 164 beds. The first building was completed in October 1900.

The second building did not open until 1928, due to the intervening events of the First World War in 1914-1918. The completion brought the total capacity of the sanatorium to 320 beds. During the First World War the sanatorium was requisitioned and reserved exclusively for women. Housing for medical personnel was added to the complex in 1931.

The 3-storey hospital has attic houses and large buildings open in a U-shape with two wings. General services were installed in isolated buildings, including canteens, cooking, laundry, administration, Pavilion Director, stables, and mortuary. It also developed its own food production, including fruits, vegetables, pigs and poultry, which made a substantial saving on costs.

The sanatorium was evacuated after being bombed during the Second World War on 19 May 1940, but reopened in August of that year.

In 1967 the ground floor was converted into inpatient units, with intake and use reducing until the sanatorium’s eventual closure in 1997, following a review and decision in 1992 of the French geriatric care board.

Our Explore
On the way to this site the tiredness really started to hit me. I think it was a combination of the adrenaline from our previous explore receding, having just eaten some food to try and keep energy levels up, and of course the fact that I’d just driven through the night at the end of a full week at work! I even said to the others that I thought I might have to pull over and have a 30-minute powernap before we attempted this explore. Of course as soon as we got close to the site the adrenaline started to kick in again, and all thoughts of sleep went straight out of the window!

I referred at the top to the sanatorium being “semi-abandoned” because part of the site is still in use, and security still patrols the grounds. I’ve heard of a few explorers being caught recently, so we proceeded through the woodland with as much caution as four people who hadn’t slept the night before can realistically muster. As you will see the place is well and truly trashed, but that said it was a peaceful site, the morning sunshine was pleasantly shining in, and we spent an untroubled couple of hours bimbling around the main buildings.

[As always click on a photo to VIEW LARGE]

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Thanks for stopping by – many more reports coming soon!

Cheers
Adam X

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