Sunday, 10 July 2016

Chambre de Marcel Proust

Some things are worth waiting for. I had to wait for my visit to the Chambre de Marcel Proust. Proust's room is on display at the wonderful Musée Carnavalet. I tried to see it on my first visit to Musée Carnavalet in 2010, but of course the only wing that was closed that day was the wing housing Marcel's famous room. I had more luck in 2014.

Musée Carnavalet is a fantastic free museum of the history of Paris. It's really worth a visit. (Update: Musée Carnavalet was free on my visits in 2013 and 2014, they now request a voluntary €5 payment).

I've never read Proust (well I did start one time, and I think I read one sentence or 20 or so pages, I wasn't ready for it), but I'm rather intrigued by him. I do like reading about Proust. I've got the audiobook of Alain de Botton's How Proust Can Change Your Life on in the car at the moment, and it got me to thinking about Proust again. 

The lovely courtyard at Carnavalet
Proust's famous cork lined room. I don't remember it as quite so yellow as it seems in my photos. It certainly wasn't what I expected of a cork lined room.

Alain de Botton in How Proust can Change Your Life describes Proust as "a man who has spent the last 14 years lying in a narrow bed under a pile of thinly woven blankets writing an unusually long novel without an adequate bedside lamp." 

The inadequate bedside lamp 

Portrait of Proust's father, Dr Adrian Proust,
a famous author in his own right and an
eminent public health physician

The commentary indicates that the furniture and objects are from three successive addresses where Proust lived in Paris after the death of his parents. 
102 Boulevard Haussmann (December 1906 - Juin 1919)
8 rue Laurent Pichat (July- September 1919)
44 rue Hamelin (October 1919 - 16 November 1922)

Apparently the cork was installed  in 1910 at Boulevarde Haussmann at the suggestion of Anna de Noailles ( who has the adjoining room in the Musée Carnavalet) to give him the silence necessary for his writing. He was to write the majority of Á la Recherché du Temps Perdu lying in his single brass bed. 

I've had two quick visits to Musée Carnavalet, but still haven't had the time to do the audio tour. Clearly, I need to go back. 

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Paris in July 2016


ktford said...

Thank you, Louise..

Sandra Nachlinger said...

Sounds like this museum is definitely worth a visit. A trip to Paris is on my wish list.

Tamara said...

Interesting man. I too doubt i could read much of his writing but there's something about him that's intriguing. Great post.

Tamara said...

Interesting man. I too doubt i could read much of his writing but there's something about him that's intriguing. Great post.

Mae Travels said...

I love the Carnavalet too -- your photos are nice. I'd like to see your pics of the rest of the museum too.

I've been there several times, though on my most recent visit I only looked into the courtyard during a walk in that wonderful Paris neighborhood. You say it's "free" which is not quite right as they do request a donation of 5 euros to enter; I guess you could just ignore them?

I read quite a bit of Proust's incredibly long book some years ago, but I'm not sure I would have the courage to tackle it again.

best... mae at

Louise said...

Thanks for the update Mae. Sadly it was 2014 when I last visited Paris. Musee Carnavalet was free at that time, as were the majority of the museums run by the City of Paris- I remember the Petit Palais as being free for the permanent collections too. I did think it extraordinary at the time that such incredible places were free, but I can see why they've changed it.

Anonymous said...

We went to the Carnavalet on our 'way back' from Russia in 2012. (Well, Paris is not quite geographically on the way back, but after two weeks in Russia, we were keen to have a decent meal before coming home).
My blog post is mostly a slideshow of exhibits which took my fancy, including (of course) Proust's room. See

Ginx Craft said...

What an interesting visit. I am surprised he could write with all the yellow cork tiles.

I'm Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

War and Peace intimidated me so much that I knew Proust would probably do me in. Instead, I read a lovely graphic novel version of his book. It sufficed.

Nadia said...

Loved your photos. Thanks for sharing about your visit to Proust's room - very cool!

Paulita said...

Did you try to read Proust in English or French? I've never visited this museum, and I feel better about my laziness today as I think of Proust lounging in his narrow bed with his inadequate bedside lamp.

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Susan said...

Another reason to go back to France!

westmetromommy said...

How interesting! I know very little about Proust, but I love seeing old rooms and homes!

Jeanie said...

I DO love Carnavelet so what a treat to be there to see Proust's room. I've read more about him than by him but I would have found the visit fascinating, as I did your post.

Mel u said...

Thanks for this fascinating posts. Great pics.