Annecy: a look back at the history of the Imperial Palace
The Imperial Palace is part of the emblematic buildings of the city of Annecy. It was built in 1912, on plots of land on the edge of Lake Annecy. Today, the Imperial Palace is both a 4-star hotel and a casino prized by the people of Annecy.
The beginnings of the Imperial Palace
It is in 1912 that the construction of the Imperial Palace begins, on a land of the Ruphy family bought 500 000 francs, at the edge of the lake of Annecy. René Layvraz was at the head of this project, as he was also the owner of the Verdun Hotel. Its objective ? Setting up a luxury hotel. He orders the plans of the Imperial to the architect who realized the Palace of Menthon in 1904.
On July 14, 1913, the hotel will open its doors, the first floor and the second floor being already accessible.
A note of one million gold francs
Due to the proximity of the lake, the land on which the Imperial is built is unstable. The foundations are therefore built on stilts, in the manner of Venice. But that doesn’t stop the construction from going fast. So much so that in only 10 months, this new luxury hotel will be built.
A part of the materials used comes from the surroundings. The stones are transported from Menthon Saint-Bernard and La Puya. As for the trees, they come from Doussard. For the rest, the slates are repatriated from Angers and the furniture from the Louvre’s stores.
In total, the construction of the Imperial Palace cost one million gold francs.
Opening of the Imperial in July 1913
July 14, 1913 marks the opening of the Imperial. The first floor and the second floor are then accessible to guests. To mark the event, a dinner is organized.
It brings together about forty Americans, all from high society.
As for the finishing touches, they will continue until 1918. While the 41,000 square meter park is gradually being embellished by the planting of flowerbeds, this new Annecy palace is quickly becoming a coveted place for the crowned heads.
The dark years of the Imperial Palace
The Imperial did not know only good days. Shortly after its opening, the First World War begins. It comes then to slow down the starting of the hotel.
It was not until the signing of the armistice and the end of the war that the palace experienced its hours of glory. In 1934, Alban Dulong bought the Imperial’s assets.
The Imperial during the Second World War
In 1939, the Second World War broke out and once again halted the beautiful momentum of the luxury hotel. It will be requisitioned by the Germans, before being used as a military hospital, then as headquarters for the Resistance and as a sorting center for repatriated prisoners of war. It is only after this that the Imperial Palace will find its first vocation.
In 1947, the palace was refurbished, as it had suffered greatly during the war. In 1949, it will host for 6 months a tariff and trade conference of the UN.
1967, year of bankruptcy for the Imperial Palace
In 1958, the owners decided to sell the hotel so that it could be transformed into apartments. The objective here is to make the land and the buildings profitable. In 1959, the city opposes it and strikes the land of easement, in order to preserve the park.
Alban Dulong, who died in 1962, left his wife alone in charge. Although the Imperial was still open for a few seasons, it quickly went bankrupt and closed its doors for good on August 31, 1967. The same year, the city of Annecy acquires the land.
The Imperial Palace, the rebirth
While the city of Annecy was trying to find a partner to renovate the Imperial while preserving its grounds, the former luxury hotel was devastated by fire in 1981. It was not until 1984 that a credible candidate appeared. It is the German group Jung.
The project presented conforms to the city’s expectations, namely to preserve the existing building, whose walls remain the property of Annecy, without new constructions being created next to it. The idea remains to preserve the park and the peninsula.
June 1988, rehabilitation work begins
The project of the Jung group becomes a reality, after having been studied from A to Z by the Soderec. A final agreement is found between the investors and Annecy and the first official act is signed on July 3, 1984. The first stone was finally laid on June 17, 1988.
During the works, the Jung group will withdraw in favor of the Hopf group.
Three sectors were created: the convention center was located at the western end and included several meeting rooms, including a conference room that could accommodate 470 people. The hotel, which has 99 single or double rooms, 4 studio rooms, 6 junior suites and 2 suites.
The last sector, of course, is the casino.
The Imperial Palace today
In December 1990, after two years of work, the Imperial Palace Hotel was inaugurated. This new high-end hotel complex appeared in line with the evolution of the market. But the palace also revives the classic and business tourism.
A last point that proves to be an essential asset for the economic dynamics of the city and more generally the region.
March 1991, opening of the Casino Impérial
In March 1991, the Imperial Casino was opened. Chic decor, clean lines, sober colors, this is what characterizes this new space of the Imperial. At the time of the opening, the casino included a nightclub, which later became the Imperial Club.
A gastronomic restaurant, La Pascaline, was also created. It owes its name to the ancestor of the roulette wheel, invented by Blaise Pascal.
The casino will bring a new dimension to the nightlife of Annecy. From 1992, slot machines are installed. They are then 101 in number.
Among them, Jumbo. It is the biggest slot machine in the world. Few casinos have them, which adds to the attractiveness of the Imperial.
Little by little, the Imperial Casino is developing. In 2000, its emblem became a dragon, synonymous with luck. Its name ? Luckie … In the same year, the so-called classic games were moved to the mezzanine, to make room for the new restaurant La Rotonde autour du Monde.
Between 2013 and 2016, the casino and the rest of the Palace, pass under the aegis of the PVG group. The first is renovated. A covered terrace with a view on the lake of Annecy is notably created.
A spa will also be born in 2016. With a surface area of 600 square meters, it is accompanied by a relaxation pool, a steam room, a sauna, treatment rooms and an experience shower.
The Imperial Palace and the personalities
Since it was built, the Imperial Palace has welcomed many personalities. Until 1963, the big names follow one another:
- Princess Clementine of Belgium
- Sacha Guitry
- The Peugeot family
- Édith Piaf
- Winston Churchill
- Charlie Chaplin
Political personalities, singers or others, everyone appreciates to spend a stay in this corner of the French Alps, whether it is for one evening or several days.
1991, a grand opening of the hotel complex
On the occasion of the inauguration of the hotel, congress and casino complex on May 25 and 26, 1991, many personalities were present at the Imperial. Thus are present :
- Henri Salvador
- André Dussolier
- Paul-Loup Sulitzer
- Bruno Masure
- Carole Laure
The Imperial Palace, a film location
The Imperial Palace was also a film location. In March 1981, while the palace is abandoned, it is used for the realization of the film All fire, all flame. A casino room is then reconstituted in the ruins of the Rotunda.
The feature film brings together great names of French song and cinema, such as Isabelle Adjani, Yves Montand or Lauren Hutton and Alain Souchon.
For some, All fire, all flame is even premonitory since in October 1981, on the 26th of the month, a fire devastated the interior of the Imperial Palace, as well as its roof.