A literary trail in Normandy
Beautiful cliffs, colorful harbors, picturesque landscapes and sweeping meadows – Some of the few scenic elements that are used to define the divine and majestic setup of Normandy. Normandy is so beautiful that a number of famous artists have been inspired to paint its impressions, like Sunrise and The Cliffs at Étretat by Claude Monet. Not just the artists, but there have been numerous literary giants for whom Normandy has been a source of creative inspiration over the years.
Image Courtesy - landscape-photo.net
In the 19th and early 20th century, hotspots like Deauville and Dieppe were summer hotspots for the upper class. With beautiful coastlines and serene weather, it was almost as if a setting of perfection. The creative inspiration would not have had hard to come by in. Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time was inspired from his stays in Normandy. His personal favorite destinations included, Cabourg, Deauville and Trouville-sur-Mer from which the fictional town Balbec was enlivened from.
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Claude Monet is a name synonymous with art and is one of the most renowned impressionists of the era. His famous alabaster cliffs in Étretat. Also born in Dieppe, but later moved to Étretat, Guy de Maupassant, France’s greatest short story write was always in awe of its heavenly beauty. His greatest work include La Maison Tellier, Bel Ami and Pierre et Jean, all conceived during his stay in the beautiful tourist town of Étretat.
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Maurice Leblanc ‘Arsene Lupin’ was the French answer to Sherlock Holmes and was his biggest breakthrough in his creative genius. Although he lived mostly in Paris, Leblack in 1918 bought a home in Normandy to stay each summer which is now a visitor centre dedicated to his work and audio guides narrated by ‘Arsène Lupin’.
North of Étretat lies Fécamp, which inspired Victor Hugo, author of Les Misérables, to write several of his masterpiece poems about the sea. A charming setup of the village of Villequier resting next to the banks of the River Seine was the tragic inspiration to his poems Demain, dès l’aube, (Tomorrow at Sunrise) and À Villequier, after the loss of his daughter. Hugo’s favorite place in Normany however was Rouen. It had the ancient buildings with medieval streets which were clearly inspirational so much so that the gothic cathedral ‘la ville aux cent clochers’ was also a favorite subject.
Victor Hugo – Image Courtesy - wikimedia.org
Normandy with time has homed a number of other prominent gods of literature namely Gustave Flaubert of Rouen, Oscar Wilde in Berneval-le-Grand, near Dieppe, where he wrote The Ballad of Reading Gaol, Ford Madox Ford in Deauville, the Victorian poet Algernon Charles Swinburne in Étretat.
For those, who are wondering about what makes Normandy, a source of inspiration for the greats, why not see and feel it for yourself? Who knows, one might find things from within, which he or she has never known. That’s the creative stimulus that Normandy can offer! Plan a trip to Normandy with friends, family of a leisure filled solo-trip to get those creative juices flowing.