Updated on 31 January 2022
Reading time: 3 minutes
Situated in the romantic seaside resort of Cabourg, this brand new museum offers visitors the unique chance to travel back in time to the Belle Époque era. So step inside the Villa du Temps Retrouvé, immerse yourself in that early 20th century atmosphere and follow in the footsteps of Marcel Proust!
Travel back in time
A stone’s throw from the sea, the Villa du Temps Retrouvé brightens up its neighbourhood with its remarkable facade adorned with diamond-shaped bricks. This elegant family villa was designed and built by architect Clément Parent in the 1860s. It a fine example of the seaside houses which, at the beginning of the previous century, were found printed on black and white postcards. To enter this intimate space is like stepping back in time to discover an unprecedented look into the Cabourg of the early 1900s.
The Villa du Temps Retrouvé enables visitors to escape everyday life and discover the history of the fascinating era that marked the golden age of Cabourg and the Flowered Coast. It was in 1907 that famous French writer Marcel Proust chose to stay in Cabourg, and spent his summer gazing out of the windows of room 414 at the Grand Hôtel. It was also here that he wrote some of the most beautiful pages of his masterpiece, In Search of Lost Time. A statue of Proust now stands opposite the Grand Hôtel.
A tour of the villa
The tour begins in the pavilion, where visitors learn more about the architectural, social and economic history of Cabourg. An on-screen animation makes it possible to retrace the history of the town, starting in the Middle Ages, when the village was then only inhabited by a few farmers and fishermen, and moving on to the modern day. In the next room, the nostalgic sound of a record playing on a gramophone can be heard, with Félix Mayol singing Les Plaisirs de la Plage (the joys of the beach). During his performance, visitors can also see memorabilia, including Parisians rushing on to station platforms, in a hurry to catch their train to the Normandy coast. A few moments later, visitors then see these people enjoying all of the pleasures the seaside resort has to offer.
All of the Belle Époque’s art de vivre shines in the villa’s winter gardens, music room, games room and reception room. Decorations, furniture and objects on display all come from the prestigious Mobilier National collections, and give visitors an insight into the tastes and interests of the upper classes who could afford to holiday on the Flowered Coast. Also on display are of portraits of Proust’s contemporaries, painted by Claude Monet, Jacques-Émile Blanche and René-Xavier Prinet.
Visitors can then explore the beautiful library, full of books that Proust probably read back in the day, as well as curiosities such as a fascinating manuscript annotated by Proust. The tour of the villa is further enhanced by various visual and audio effects, and continues from the library on to the temporary exhibition room before ending up in the garden, where visitors can finish their tour with some hot or cold refreshments .
Open from 5 March to 20 November (Wednesday to Monday and bank holidays): Open from 11am to 6pm
July and August: Open from 11am to 7pm
Standard tickets: €8
Under 18s: Free entry
Groups of 10+: €5.50/person