Twelve years ago I visited Noisiel to see the unique Chocolat Menier factory complex designed by Jules Saulnier on the banks of the River Marne, east of Paris. The factory was in production from 1871 to 1993 and in 1997 was remodelled to serve as the headquarters of Nestlé France. Le Moulin Saulnier is the landmark building - behind the chromatic brilliance of its ceramic cladding lies an interior in which iron box girders and arched roof trusses create uninterrupted floor space for machinery. Since 2010 I’ve acquired some vintage postcards of Noisiel that can be seen below, what they confirm is how well everything appears to have been conserved. A recent acquisition is this corporate prospectus of the Noisiel factory published by Menier in the 1930s to mark more than a century of progress. On the cover is a familiar school girl figure in use in Menier publicity since 1892, as airbrushed and updated 50 years later for the 1930s. There’s a double page spread of photos illustrating the major buildings and the manufacturing process at the Usine de Noisiel. Alongside a chance to win a Peugeot 302 “luxe”, more photos can be seen on the back, including views of the internal railway that ran through the premises.
In 2020 Nestlé France moved out of Noisiel to new premises in Issy-les-Moulineaux and disposed of the entire site to a developer, leaving the buildings to face an uncertain future. Much wrangling is now going on between developers, local authorities and nearby residents - developers want to maximise the residential potential while locals are looking for community and cultural facilities. The buildings have some protection as National Monuments but many spectacular interiors could be lost whichever way the argument is settled. Some reports say that the developers intend to permit a number of community enterprises to operate within the site on a temporary basis until 2024, the date set for launching the redevelopment. This is unlikely to offer any public access to the site. More Chocolat Menier posts can be seen here and here.