"Langlois-Etéveneaux Cottage - the oldest House" Top 5 Page for this destination Akaroa Things to Do Tip by Kakapo2

Akaroa Things to Do: 93 reviews and 230 photos

  The nice colour is a thing of the past.
by Kakapo2

You will not see Akaroa’s oldest house as beautiful as it looks on this photo. When I was there some months ago it was stripped down. And the people who have done this really seem to be called strippers LOL Anyway. A scaffolding was erected around the building, and those strippers wore blue overalls and prepared the house on the main street (Rue Lavaud) for a new coat of paint. Unfortunately this was not the wonderful greens which made it stand out but in a light buff colour – which means: as bland and impersonal as all those beige and cream and white interiors of modern homes for sale… (See the result in my next tip...)

Also unfortunately the reason for the change of colour is sincere and even understandable although I do not like the idea at all. In a microscopic study of the lowest of 13 layers that coated the house it was found out that this layer was this crappy colour.

Sure, in other cases where a modernisation annoys me I would say restoring a building to its original look is always the best thing you can do. As I absolutely loved the greens of the Langlois-Etéveneaux House I am no more sure about it LOL What if already the first owner applied the second layer? And anyway, the first owner perhaps had no other choice because they had only taken one kind of paint with them from France or Germany and would always have loved to have a green house? LOL

You see why my husband sometimes says it is hard to please me ;-)

It is not sure but very probable that Langlois-Etéveneaux House – sorry: la Maison Langlois-Etéveneaux – is the oldest surviving house of Canterbury. It was most likely built in 1841 as the ship Comte de Paris with the French and German settlers arrived in Akaroa in 1840, and the first owner, Aimable Langlois, went back to France in 1842. After Langlois’ death Jean-Pierre Etéveneaux bought the cottage in 1858. So that is where the double-name comes from.

Long time it was believed that the house was prefabricated in France but now it seems to be clear that this is not possible because native New Zealand timbers were used in the construction. The shape of the roof and a few other features are similar to that of other cottages of the same period. It is now thought that the French look – including the louvred shutters and elegant fanlights – came up later when Jean-Pierre Etéveneaux’s son, Jean-Baptiste, made alterations.

After that far more changes and additions were made. But in 1963 and ’64 most of these additions were removed and the cottage returned to its original size (two rooms) and furnished with French furniture. All this makes this house clearly Akaroa’s most important reminder of its French origins.

Most other cottages are neither purely French nor purely English but a blend of French, German and English styles that have become a unique New Zealand style.

The house is part of Akaroa’s museum next door (as is the old Customs House) but you cannot go inside – only look through the windows.

Address: 71 Rue Lavaud
Directions: At the corner of Rue Lavaud and Rue Balguerie, opposite the Visitor Centre and the Bank of New Zealand. If you come from Christchurch it is on the left side of the street.

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Oct 1, 2008
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