In 1951, the Hostellerie de l’Eveche was opened in the old Episcopal Palace, restored to its state at the time of the Bishops. Their suites had been converted in 10 rooms with some limited comfort that were however rented by the day. This lasted for three years, until major rehabilitation was undertaken in 1953:l’Orangerie, or the Greenhouse, was totally tore down, with the exception of the stone framework visible today and the bottom part of the north wall. After 18 months of work, a restaurant on the ground floor and a 20 rooms hotel were erected in a 45 by 10 meter buildings.
In April 1955, L’Orangerie was re-opened. Until recently, this part of the Hostellerie was used during the cold season, as it was the only wing equipped with a heating system. As a result, a move was taking place twice a year between l’Orangerie and l’Eveche.
Refection works on the buildings and on the park were carried out during the off-season over 17 years, from the purchasing date to 1967. In October 1962, the complete renovation of the old Bishop palace commenced : after moving out all the furniture and tearing down each wall, an additional floor was created by lowering the floor of the attic by one meter. The current hotel was then born, growing from 10 to 23 rooms. Artisans from all trades were present each day on site. Mr. Valent coordinated the renovation’s 30 to 40 workers while his daughter ran the business in L’Orangerie with her husband.
In June 1963, the complete renovation of the old Bishop palace was completed. The many patrons relaxed in this peaceful, verdant place. The demand for banquets was increasing and, with the boom of Spain as a destination for tourists in the 60s and 70s, many people stopped on their way, many of whom became regular customers.
Some time later, in 1978, the construction of the highway between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea (“Autoroute des 2 Mers”) lead to the deviation of Alet from the busier route, providing a serious blow to the business. In the ‘80s, with the arrival of Christian Limouzy, freshly graduated from the Lycee Hotelier des Pyrenees de Toulouse (Culinary Institute for the Pyrenees in Toulouse), a new business plan was put together. With the help of his wife Yolande, who graduated from the Lycee Hotelier de Tarbes, many improvements were undertaken to meet the requirements of the clientele. Indeed, the growing demand was for the most comfortable rooms, to the detriment of more basic accommodations.
L’Orangerie then went from 4 rooms equipped to 8, while l’Eveche went from 6 to 12 rooms equipped. The demand for groups during the colder season, together with the need for harmonization of the rooms, lead to additional works. The purpose of this was to offer a 2 stars service to the clientele with direct phone, TV, toilets, bath or shower in all rooms.
Given the fact that significant investments had been realized to meet safety standards, and also in the absence of cash flow, works were postponed to 1998. Since 1998, improvement and maintenance works are carried every winter. One such improvement was carried out during the Winter 2001-2002 by fitting the park with a watering system that will help preserving the beauty of this botanical site.
This was the evolution of this building that was and still is one of the finest jewels of the region as far as hostelry and catering are concerned, not to mention its unique location and its secular trees.