Palais Oriental (Reims)

The Palais Oriental, known locally as the PO[1], was a luxury maison close (brothel) in Reims, France. It opened in 1926 and closed in 1946, following the introduction of the Loi Marthe Richard, which abolished brothels in France. It was located on the corner of the rue de la Magdeleine and rue Bacquenoi.[2] The prestige of the Palais Oriental rivalled that of Paris's most luxurious maison closes, the One-Two-Two and Le Chabanais.[3]

Palais Oriental
Ottoman Gate in the Palais Oriental
Palais Oriental
Location in France
AddressRue de la Magdeleine
Coordinates49.2525407°N 4.02109°E / 49.2525407; 4.02109
TypeMaison close
Opened15 April 1925 (1925-04-15)
Closed30 September 1946


Work on the Palais Oriental started in 1924 and the establishment first opened its doors on 15 April 1925.[4] Like many other French brothels of the time it had an Oriental theme.[5] The building itself drew heavily from Moorish architecture,[5] looking like an Arab fortress,[6] and the interior was adorned with mosaics and hand-painted frescos.[4]

On the ground floor was the main reception room. This was open to the public with no obligation to use the other services of the brothel. Cabaret shows were produced for the entertainment of patrons.[4] The room had a well stocked 25m bar. It is reputed that the patrons consumed more Champagne here than in the rest of the bars and restaurants in Reims combined.[7] Also on the ground floor was a Moorish lounge where the 30 or so women, known as petits cœurs à louer (little hearts for rent), awaited clients.[7] A grand staircase took the women and clients up to the 7 small salons,[7] each one having a different oriental theme.[7] Amongst the clients were politicians, Princes, Maharajas, and celebrities of the day.[3]

After WW2, following campaigning by ex-prostitute Marthe Richard, a law was passed outlawing brothels in France. As a consequence of this, the Palais Oriental closed on 30 September 1946.[4] The building was demolished and a garage built on the site.[4]


The only surviving parts of the brothel building are a floor mosaic and a small back door.[3]

In 2009, researcher Nicole Canet published Maisons closes, 1860-1946: bordels de femmes, bordels d'hommes,[8][9] of the brothels featured in the book, the Palais Oriental was the only one outside Paris.[10]

Historical author Michelle Andrée Roy wrote a book, Chronique d'une maison close: le palais oriental,[11] about the brothel in 2013.[12]


  1. Dupouy 2019, p. 55.
  2. "Une page d'histoire : le palais oriental". France Bleu (in French). Retrieved 15 February 2019.
  3. "Palais Oriental ou P.O. - Union des Maisons de Champagne". (in French). Retrieved 15 February 2019.
  4. "Le Palais Oriental - rue de la Magdeleine". Reims Avant (in French). Retrieved 15 February 2019.
  5. Maginn & Steinmetz 2014.
  6. Mankoff 1972, p. 45.
  7. "Le Palais Oriental, maison close rémoise (1925-1946) - Boudoir School Reims" (in French). Boudoir Princess. 15 November 2011. Retrieved 15 February 2019.
  8. Canet 2009.
  9. "Maisons close, Nicole Canet". Au Bonheur du Jour (in French). Retrieved 15 February 2019.
  10. "Galerie Au Bonheur du Jour". Au Bonheur du Jour (in French). Retrieved 15 February 2019.
  11. Roy 2013.
  12. "Michelle A. Roy". (in French). Editions Thélès. Retrieved 15 February 2019.


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