Proust in Brittany

Jun 14, 2016 |
Beg-Meil - across the bay you can see Concarneau on the horizon

Beg-Meil – across the bay you can see Concarneau on the horizon

Marcel Proust spent one of his early holidays and writing tours in Beg-Meil, just across the bay from Concarneau in Finistère, Brittany.  The first lines of his early novel, called, Jean Santeuil, tell us of Proust’s time there in 1895. Marcel would have been just 24.  Jean Le Foll produced an excellent and well-researched piece of travel writing in 1995, to celebrate the centenary of Proust’s sojourn in Finistère.  Le Foll’s mix of history, academic research and identifiable locations led me to make a visit to the village during my doctoral research and his article has become an exemplar of a new school of informed travel writing for the Knowledge Society we live in.  The hotel manager where I stayed in Beg-Meil found the article for me on her iPad and used it to point out the locations that Proust himself would have known.  The Fouesnantais Tourist Board used to hold a copy of the Le Foll’s marvellous travel piece as a PDF to download freely from their web-site back in 2012, and for local hoteliers to retrieve easily.  Alas, a makeover of the site deleted many of their digital assets; Le Foll’s thoroughly-researched writing was amongst those archives, now sadly lost.

I have tried to find Jean Le Foll on the web since 2012 but so far without success. I had hoped he had continued to write this type of travel literature. In an attempt to see if more of his work exists I have re-launched his famous article ‘A hundred years ago – Proust’s sojourn at Beg-Meil’ here… please post a Comment if you find any more of Le Foll’s work, or indeed if you know him or where he worked.

Le Foll, J. (1995) ‘Il y a cent ans : le séjour de Marcel Proust à Beg Meil’ download PDF below

Le Foll 1995 Proust à Beg Meil

Hotel Fermont, Beg-Meil from where Proust writes a letter

Hotel Fermont, Beg-Meil from where Proust writes a letter

Here is a map to help you find the hotel where I spent an enjoyable few days on fieldwork meeting locals and exploring the village and Marcel’s beloved sand dunes: Hôtel de la Cale, 34 Rue des Glénan, 29170 Fouesnant, France

Do you have any Proust stories to share? Especially if they involve places we can still visit today.

Posted in: Travels with Charlie in Search of French | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

One Response

  1. Thank you for the ‘Like’, Marcelita, much appreciated. Please leave a Comment, too, if you can. You have the perfect surname for a Proust reader!

    Warm wishes
    Charlie

    Dr Charlie Mansfield
    Plymouth University