Land-locked liner becomes museum

Lying on the Grand Plage at Port-Barcarès for the past 50 years, the former cruise liner Lydia, one of the oldest in the world, is being steered away from its former life as a tourist attraction plus disco, casino and restaurant to be made into a museum.

Published Last updated

Called the ‘Eiffel Tower’ of the Pyrénées-Orientales coastline, the liner has been restored and new decks opened to give visitors a taste of the high-life when it was a favourite of honeymooners in Australia.

Built in 1931 and called the Moonta, she sailed the southern seas and was sold after the war for Mediterranean cruises and renamed Lydia before being bought for the seaside resort as a new attraction.

Tugs took her from Marseille and beached her on bare sand where she had several lives being a ‘must’ for the jet-set and showbiz stars with a casino, disco and restaurant but also as a filming location.

Now called the Paquebot des Sables (Liner of the Sands) the restoration features her monumental staircase, the oak-lined salons and even her original teak deck, 8cm thick, with visitors able to see the officers’ cabins in the museum of a bygone age.