In the North, “castle life” for eleven seniors

By Béatrice Jérôme

Posted at 12:36 a.m. yesterday, updated at 9:08 a.m. yesterday

“I am in Versailles here! “, Jacqueline Dewaele delighted in discovering the monumental staircase, the walls with sculpted woodwork, the huge fireplaces lined with Delft earthenware, the giant fresco in the large living room and her 40 m bedroom2. The 83-year-old former teacher has been living since April 2019 in the largest private mansion on Boulevard Watteau, in the heart of the most bourgeois district of Valenciennes (North). “Family home for the elderly”, we read on the high red brick facade.

In the living room on the ground floor of Maison Delame, in Valenciennes in the North, on July 6, 2021.

His name is engraved on a small copper plaque on the oak front door. Next to the bell, we also read that of Chantal Lannoy and those of other tenants. At the beginning of July, Mme Lannoy, 89, widow of a factory manager, plays manila in the music room near the grand piano. Around the table, Jacques Bruge, 80 years old and former host of youth and culture centers, Gisèle Coquel, 93 years old, former employee of a department store in the city. Sitting in a shepherdess, Anne-Marie Derycke, 84, a long-time researcher at the University of Lille, observes the trio.

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Everyone has a good reason to live here. Mme Derycke has “Small memory loss” who made ” complicated ” keeping her at home. Mme Coquel came to seek company. “Loneliness did not work for me”, slips the nonagenarian alert which happily climbs the grand staircase and surveys the reception rooms in a row, every day, “Half an hour to talk”. “My daughter gave me this gift by moving here after my stroke, confides Mme Dewaele. A luxurious house, welcoming people… I live serenely in semi-autonomy. “

“As in a Balzac novel”

“We said to ourselves that to attract people, we had to find a very nice house! “, recognize Vincent Delauney, the owner of the place built in the XIXe century, which he renamed “Watt’Home”. “Here, we are in a boarding house like in a Balzac novel”, he smiles, but a pension only for seniors. The idea seems simple, but the project was a “Ufo” when he decided to launch in 2016. Today, the ELAN law of 2018 lists it as “an inclusive habitat”, a portmanteau that designates any cohabitation between seniors or disabled people, grouped around a “Project of social and shared life”.

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