In Search of Marcel Proust

Our photographic testimony is focused on the main places that inspired the author for the writing of his novel, ”A la recherche du temps perdu””. A lot of locations from the novel, houses and villas, hotels and restaurants places or neighborhoods are still there for our biggest pleasure at the beginning of our century.

A photographic testimony

Our photographic testimony will focus on Illiers-Combray, the starting point of “A la recherche du temps perdu” and Normandie with Cabourg and Trouville.

Our photographic review is focused on the main places that inspired the author for the writing of his novel, ”A la recherche du temps perdu””. A lot of locations from the novel, houses and villas, hotels and restaurants places or neighborhoods are still there for our biggest pleasure at the beginning of our century.

Our only goal as photographers and travelers is to catch beauty of this places, real witnesses of a history close to Marcel Proust’s novel in his real life or imagination.

More than 100 years after the publication of his novel, an incredible enthusiasm always pushes thousands of French and foreign readers. All people are ready to get closer to these places, like pilgrims, simply because the novel has changed their life and it becomes natural to understand the historical and geographical context of the main evocations made by its author.

How many readers recognize a life before and after the reading of ”A la recherche du temps perdu” to fully understand the obsessive character to live again this past or lost time.

Like photography, Marcel Proust’s novel is an exploration whose reading constantly renews an artistic vision of the work from new angles.

Stays in Illiers-Combray

Illiers Combray Church

Sunset on Illiers-Combray’s church.

If Marcel Proust is Jew by his mother, he refused baptism only because he did’nt renonce to his jewish condition.
His father, a fervent catholic used to go to the church every sunday with his family.


Illiers Combray ChurchThe church bench of Proust’s familly

Defending the traditional Mass, Marcel Proust had the opportunity to affirm his love for La France Catholique.


Marcel Proust Tante Leonie's house

Aunt Leonie’s house

We can see here the garden of aunt Tante Leonie’s house and the nice orientalist decoration of the facade introduced by the uncle refering his love for the several trips in Algeria. In the novel, it’s in this house that his aunt offers to the young Marcel the famous madeleine with a cup of tea. She used to get her bedroom on the same level that Marcel Proust’s bedroom.


Marcel Proust Bed Room in Combray

Marcel Proust’s bedroom in Aunt Leonie’s house

The most famous sentence in the world from Marcel Proust novel ”Longtemps je me suis couché de bonne heure” has been imagined when he use to go to bed for sleeping during his family was downstairs.


la haie d'aubépines

It is here that Marcel Proust met Gilberte,
on this little raidillon, in the hedge of hawthorns.


On the way to Balbec

All departures of the trains from paris to reach Balbec are leaving from Gare Saint-Lazare.
Marcel Proust took those rails so many times for all his trips to Balbec in summer time.


gare saint lazare

Saint-Lazare railway station
View from Europe Place when the trains are leaving to Normandie.

Dives-Cabourg railway station

Trains still arriving today in Dives, close to Cabourg. The name of the station is Dives-Cabourg the final station.
Grand Hotel in Cabourg is around 2 kilometers from the railway station.

Stays in Balbec (Cabourg)

He went in Balbec for the first time too years maybe after his break with Gilberte.
The face of Albertine appeared to Marcel during this first stay,  in the middle of all those nice young girls he met there.
Le Grand Hotel de Cabourg is the place Marcel Proust used to leave during many months in a room with a fantastic view on the sea.

The sun coming from the back of the Grand Hotel produces an incredible light on the beach and the sea.

Grand Hôtel in Cabourg


A famous reflexion about the people looking through the windows of the restaurant and watching the show of the rich people like fishes in a big aquarium.

”Et le soir ils ne dînaient pas à l’hôtel où les sources électriques faisant sourdre à flots la lumière dans la grande salle à manger, celle-ci devenait comme un immense et merveilleux aquarium devant la paroi de verre duquel la population ouvrière de Balbec, les pêcheurs et aussi les familles de petits bourgeois, invisibles dans l’ombre, s’écrasaient au vitrage pour apercevoir, lentement balancée dans des remous d’or la vie luxueuse de ces gens, aussi extraordinaire pour les pauvres que celle de poissons et de mollusques étranges.”


salle a manger grand hotel cabourg

The dining room at Sunset


If Marcel Proust used to harass to manager of the hotel as a demanding but good customer, he succeeded to get a room on the 4th floor, very quite, where he could sleep without the noise of the shoes above his bedroom. It was here that Celeste, a chambermaid in the Grand Hotel, became friends with Marcel Proust.

Marcel Proust’s bedroom in Grand Hotel


Stays in Trouville

Marcel Proust used to be the single man invited by the rich parisian society and specially by Madame Strauss in his mansion Le clos des Muriers.

le clos des muriers

Le clos des Muriers

Jacques Baignières’s parents used to rent La Villa des Frémonts and his friend incited him for summer. This house will be the model for La Raspelière.
On the top of the hill of Trouville the Villa gets one of the best and highest location on the hill with a fantastic view on the beach and the harbour of Trouville, even if the villa is a little bit far away from the center.

le manoir des fremonts

La Villa des Frémonts


Les Roches noires where Marcel Proust came one summer with his mother.
La Tour Malakof, a villa that Marcel Proust would have liked to rent, is closed from the Roches Noires and Villa Persane.


les roches noires

Les Roches noires

“Aux admirables Frémonts, montaient du Manoir des Roches ou de la Villa Persane, la marquise de Gallifet avec la princesse de Sagan, toutes deux dans leur élégance, aujourd’hui à peu près indescriptible, d’anciennes belles de l’Empire”

la villa persane

La Villa persane



Citation de Marcel Proust


”Par l’art seulement nous pouvons sortir de nous, savoir ce que voit un autre de cet univers qui n’est pas le même que le nôtre, et dont les paysages nous seraient restés aussi inconnus que ceux qu’il peut y avoir dans la lune”. – Marcel Proust

“Only through Art, may we get outside of ourselves; knowing what another can see of this universe which is not the same as us; and landscapes which would have remained as unknown as those that could exist on the Moon.”

Please find the links to book a Workshop Photography Tour in Paris or in Combray.


20 responses to “In Search of Marcel Proust”

  1. “More than 150 years after the publication of his novel, ” – I’m afraid your mathematics have gone haywire. Du côté de chez Swann appeared in 1913, plus 150 gives 2063, which some of us will not even see.

  2. Sorry, I should first have said that I like your page – and especially the photographs, they transport a very special and becoming atmosphere. Greetings, Juergen

  3. Thanks a lot Juergen, i tried to make it exactly like you are feeling the atmosphere.Have you been there in Combray ?

  4. Great photography, I love especially the ones in the twilight having Prout’s uneasiness in mind when the time neared for going to bed.

  5. Thanks Pascal for your comment. I took the pic at sunset and you feel perfectly the atmosphere, you’re right.
    Have you been there one time ?

  6. Dear Frédéric

    Actually, my family and me had boocked our summer holidays at a place next to Cabourg this year. Sadly, we had to cancel the trip due to the current virus crisis. I was really looking forward to meeting the places, having a cup of tea in the hotel and trying to capture the mood with the camera by myself: The impressions, emotions and sensations experienced at such a place are fully subjective – to capture your unique experience in a photo, it’s often good to try to shoot it yourself while you are really feeling it.

    No, while working from home (I am thankful that I can do that) and being a home school teacher at the same time, I read in Proust’s work in the evenings when the house gets quiet. It calms me down in a way and helps me shifting my mind away from all the uncertainty and concerns about the future.

    I honedtly hope, you are well. Take care.

    Your, s sincerely

  7. Good afternoon Pascal,
    Thanks a lot for your email and i hope you will be able to come in Cabourg soon.
    Please let me know.

    My family is ok – take care you too.

    My best regards

  8. Frederick,
    Thanks for your work!
    For the first time, I am reading Les Temps Perdu en Anglais ( sigh) and searched for “Balbec”, and then found your link.
    Thanks again,
    Jim S.,
    Vancouver, Canada

  9. Ps. FYI: I have the 1941 translation by
    C.K.Scott Moncrief, 12 vol. Chatto & Windus!

  10. le Grand Hotel in Cabourg, le plage de Balbec, what a joy to discover it all still exists to be seen. Had to stop mid-conclusion of Vol. II to find le Raspeliere. And here it all is! Someday!

  11. Hi ! congratulations for your website. I have been a great admirer of La Recherche du temps perdu for ages. I recently started it again from the beginning. Your photos are great especially the Normandie’s ones and the Grand Hotel de Cabourg, where I will go back when the world gets better.

  12. Hi,
    Sorry for my late answer but Covid disturbed a little bit our lives for the past 2 years.
    you will be able to see one of my pictures from Grand Hotel in a great magazine. I will let you know asap.
    If you come in Paris and normandie please give me a call. my best regards. Fred

  13. Hi Michelle,
    Sorry for my late answer for you nice comment but i’am not sure to understand your message about La Raspelière…
    my best regards, fred

  14. Hi Pascal,
    really sorry for my late reply but covid has been difficult to face.
    I would be very pleased if you come in Cabourg to give me a call to meet you and your familly in normandie.
    My best regards, Fred

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