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The “German Brothel” in Yvelines: an uncertain future for the ruined residence

“Heritage” or “ruin”: in Mesnil-Le-Roi (Yvelines), the “German Brothel”, a building requisitioned as a brothel during the Nazi occupation, continues to divide, 80 years after the Liberation, the current owner, the town hall and local residents.

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The “German Brothel” in Yvelines: an uncertain future for the ruined residence

“Heritage” or “ruin”: in Mesnil-Le-Roi (Yvelines), the “German Brothel”, a building requisitioned as a brothel during the Nazi occupation, continues to divide, 80 years after the Liberation, the current owner, the town hall and local residents. “I would destroy it to do something else,” says Fabrice, 38, a walker who sometimes walks in Le Mesnil, 24 km from Paris, a “pleasant corner” between the Seine and the A14 viaduct. For this computer scientist, the “German Brothel”, overgrown by vegetation, is nothing more than a simple “ruin”.

In fact, this fortress-like concrete residence, accessible by a small path, continues to deteriorate: gaping holes on three floors, collapsed balcony and staircase, no trace of furniture from the period... The walls are covered tags, representations of manga characters. Among the rubble, alcohol bottles, food waste and a decrepit sofa show that the mansion is the scene of clandestine parties. “It’s private property but everyone goes there,” sighs the owner of the place, Bruno Chiumento, 69, who says he has many times installed signs to indicate it.

This real estate developer residing in the Chevreuse valley (Yvelines) explains to AFP that he became the owner of the “German Brothel” between “2008 and 2010” after having heard about it “completely by chance” and bought the shares from an associate now deceased. “The land is large – a 17 hectare plot. Why not try setting up a real estate project? We will see when it can be done,” he explains.

Mr. Chiumento is confident: before becoming the owner, the land would have been among the favorites in a competition organized in early 2000 by the French Rugby Federation (FFR) to build the current Linas-Marcoussis National Rugby Center. , with 20 hectares. Contacted by AFP, the FFR did not confirm its statements. The years pass and Bruno Chiumento fails to transform the attempt. The site is gradually being classified as a PPRI zone (flood risk prevention plan). Its location near the Seine leaves “2 and a half hectares, or even just a little more”, exploitable.

For the mayor of Mesnil-Le-Roi (DVD), Serge Caseris, this should have encouraged Bruno Chiumento to seal the fate of the “German Brothel”: “Either the owner encloses his land to avoid frequentation and accidents, or else he destroys". The elected official does not see himself spending “hundreds of thousands of euros” to acquire what was originally the “Villa Sapène”, built shortly before 1920 by Jean Sapène, director of the Petit Journal. This Art Deco type villa was requisitioned “in the period 39-45 among others in Le Mesnil. German officers who lived in Paris or Saint-Germain came to spend their weekend here in good company, hence the name of the “German Brothel”,” Serge Caseris told AFP.

Bruno Chiumento today has only one desire: to “turn the page” of this place. Convinced that the manor can be rebuilt and made into “a very beautiful property”, the developer is proposing a sale for 2.5 million euros, “the compilation of costs, studies and interest over time”. “2.5 million, if it’s a ruin, it’s excessive,” said Jacqueline Mazeyrat, seated in a restaurant not far from the manor. This 79-year-old retiree would prefer “to shave everything down given the work that would have to be done”.

Conversely, her older sister, Monique, 85, for whom the “German Brothel” is a “heritage”, thinks that we should “invest to make it a place of culture”. For example, “a small museum that everyone would come to see,” says Mohamed Zarrouga, 52, co-manager of the restaurant. Jacqueline Mazeyrat then suggests “asking” Stéphane Bern. Every year, the host organizes a Heritage Lottery to finance the maintenance of monuments in danger.

Could approaching the Heritage Foundation and mobilizing the public around a restoration of the “German Brothel” be a solution for Bruno Chiumento? “If I wanted to keep him yes, but that’s not the case.” For the moment, the promoter simply indicates that he is discussing with a company having “a very specific project” on the exploitable part, “not to do real estate”.

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