On the Trail of the Belle Epoque of Proust

In the morning we took the number 28 bus to the boulevard Haussmann to see the Musée Jaquemart-André, a distinctive Belle Epoque building inaugurated in 1876. It was designed by Henry Parent, who had lost the competition for constructing the Opera House, to hold and develop Edouard André’s collection of mostly 18th century works. In 1881, André married Nellie Jaquemart, who had painted a portrait of him in 1872. She worked with him to arrange and expand the collection, and continued working on it even after his death in 1894. Our initial goal in visiting was to get an idea of the milieu that Proust wrote about, even if he was never invited there. A large courtyard, entered via a passageway under the house, welcomed visitors’ carriages to the grand entrance, which faces away from the street.


The rooms were designed from the start to display André’s collection.

The Picture Gallery, an antechamber leading into the Grand Salon

The double winding staircase leading from the indoor garden to the second floor was Henry Parent’s revenge for the lost opera contract.

This is the left half of the double winding staircase.

There was a special exhibit: a collection by Anna Koplowitz, from Zurbarán to Rothko, which included a famous Modigliani portrait.


These pictures are from the museum website. We bought the book (Jaquemart-André museum Official Guide, culturespaces and EPCOM, Nanterre, reprinted 2015) and some souvenirs at the shop. Wonderful place, but not all the audio files had English versions.

Afterward we had a leisurely and delicious déjeuner at Restaurant 154, just a couple doors down from the museum. Service was fast and yet we lingered. Check the link for a 3D virtual visit to the dining room.

We then walked to 102 Blvd Haussmann, where Proust  lived and worked in a cork-lined room before being obliged to move in 1919. It is now occupied by CIC Bank. One can visit this room, but the furnishings are now in the Carnavalet Museum, currently closed for renovations.IMG_3027



6 thoughts on “On the Trail of the Belle Epoque of Proust”

  1. Great post. As a life-long admirer of Proust and recently having finished the whole of “In Search of Lost Time” after 16 years(!), this was very interesting to read. Will make sure to visit the 102 Blvd Haussmann on the next trip to Paris!

  2. Great! Just reading through the “An Observation on Regret” post from October 2014. Very nice read. There is nothing like Proust… in my case the sentence “I understand that the image of what we have been during an early period is no longer recognizable, and in any case unpleasant.” struck in particular, remembering the first occurrence of this reflection already in the early twenties. Wondering what the core of “me” really is, when time is changing so much of who we are, continuously.

    And as an aside; I didn’t fully dawn on me until the very last volume how direct and honest Proust is in his books as a self biographer, and fully revealing his own artistic and creative development towards becoming a writer. I read somewhere once that his early works were merely of “mediocre” quality, wonder if that is what he’s partly alluding to.

    Have you read the books many times btw.? We’re just getting started here with testing/making podcasts this summer, it’s a new “venture”, but maybe we could have a long chat/conversation about Proust one day! I think the internet and wordpress needs more of the beauty and timeless wisdom of Proust 🙂

  3. Excellent! Just sent you an email to the university address with more info, if that’s still in use? It’ll be a very informal chat and just as “blog friends” – not too serious – and focusing on the personal experience and joy of reading Proust. And perhaps its place and influences in one’s life, in general 🙂
    Have a great day!

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