The Mackintoshes in Port-Vendres
In 1923, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife Margaret arrived in Roussillon, Margaret took a cure in Amélie-les-Bains during the winter of 1923-1924. During the winter of 1925 They chose to settle in the Commercial Hotel (Hôtel du Commerce).
They stayed in this boarding hotel several times from 1925 to 1927
Then Charles was diagnosed with cancer of the tongue and the couple returned to Great Britain. Charles died in London in 1928. It is said that according to his last wishes in 1929, his wife would disperse his ashes in the waters of Port-Vendres, this city where he claims “to have spent the happiest years of his life”.
The current building, the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Memorial Bronze and the Mackintosh Bridge
The building that housed the Hôtel du Commerce has become a residential building divided into apartments. The ground floor is occupied by the Banque Populaire. It is to be found at 8 Quai Forgas. This old three-storey building was renovated in 2020, including the first-floor balcony in keeping with its architecture from the end of the 19th century with its wrought iron balconies.
The painting of the ground floor of the façade of rue Jules Ferry has just been completed in April 2021. There is a beautiful view of the port and its activity from its balconies.
The Bronze and its inauguration – a memorable day
You see the facade of this building from the corner of Quai Forgas and Rue Jules Ferry.The bust of Charles Rennie Mackintosh: a large bas-relief medallion in patinated bronze, is signed by the sculptor Jane Robbins and below is a commemorative plaque of Charles’ passage in this place. NB: The plate must be returned to its place by the city’s technical services
The bronze was inaugurated on November 13, 2012 in the presence of a team of journalists from the Independent. Below is an excerpt from the article published in the newspaper L’Indépendant of November 15, 2012 and signed Véronique Parayre.
CHARLES RENNIE MACKINTOSH A GENIUS IN LOVE WITH PORT-VENDRES
“Even a BBC television crew made the trip to film the event. It must be said that the Scottish delegation, made up of a minister, personalities in kilt and a bagpipe player in particular, were very proud of the honors rendered in Roussillon, and in particular in Port-Vendres, to one of the personalities most respected in the country –Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
Thus, a bronze bust signed by sculptor Jane Robbins was unveiled, at the very place where the artist stayed, as well as a plaque baptizing the bridge on rue Jules-Ferry.A moving tribute.Yesterday in the presence of a Scottish minister, the sub-prefect of Céret and local personalities, the artist’s imprint was immortalized. Underlying this action, initiated in 2004, were Lord and Lady Steel and the members of the Association Ch-R. Mackintosh, as secretary Michèle Grau explains: “We have succeeded in recreating the artist’s itinerary in Roussillon, a route marked out by 35 paintings which have enabled the creation of three interpretation centers in Port-Vendres, Amélie and at Fort Liberia in Villefranche. In addition, the publication of a book by Robin Crichton is a remarkable bilingual guide allowing a better understanding of his journey “.
A wine of honor closed this meeting, in the presence of the members of the Vigatanaportvendrenca in traditional Catalan dress and to the sound of the bagpipes, allowing the mayor Jean-Pierre Roméro to conclude:
“The whole city is proud of this collaboration, paying homage to this great man. The bust unveiled in the very place where he stayed, and the bridge named after him, are the symbols of the solid bond which binds Port-Vendres to Scotland. The duty of memory is respected. Charles -Rennie Mackintosh stays alive through this work! ”
The bridge called “Charles Rennie MACKINTOSH Bridge” is located a little higher on the street Jules Ferry.
The hotel “du commerce” and café du commerce in Port-Vendres in the 1920s and 30s
The establishment accommodated Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Margaret with full board during their stay in Port-Vendres. It was run at the time by the Dejean family and the Marty family. The ground floor was occupied by a very lively café-the Café du Commerce
Life in this guesthouse was very picturesque.Charles, very observant, curious and full of humor, testifies in his letters to Margaret of the very lively commercial and maritime life in Port-Vendres in the 1920s
The port was teeming with activity. The buildings of the Mixed Maritime Company served as a bridge between Port-Vendres and North Africa. Sailing or steamboats came from a wide variety of regions and countries.
Noted that at the time the current Pierre Forgas wharf was called “the wharf” or “the city’s wharf.” The wharf was renamed in honour of the trade unionist railway worker CGT of the Eastern Pyrenees Pierre Forgas very active in the years 1929-1934.