In French, a “Madeleine de Proust” is an expression used to describe smells, tastes, sounds reminding you of your childhood or bringing back emotional memories from a long time ago. Let’s follow in the footsteps of Marcel Proust, the famous French author inspired by Eure et Loir, and whose spirit is still very much alive around the village of Illiers-Combray.
Combray, a village imagined by Marcel Proust
Throughout his childhood, young Marcel Proust spent his holidays with his aunt and uncle in Illiers, a small village in the heart of the Beauce, a rural county crossed by the river Loir. During this time, his hobbies included wandering in the surrounding countryside, contemplating nature and the beauty of the vast fields so typical of the Beauce area. The village of Illiers and its quaint scenery deeply inspired his work, notably in the novel “A la recherche du temps perdu” where he often mentions the village of Combray. In reality, Combray is Marcel Proust's Illiers in disguise. The name of the village was later officially changed to Illiers-Combray to honor his memory.
Follow in the footsteps of Marcel Proust
The village of Illiers-Combray stands as the “Proustian” epicenter of Eure et Loir, as in the place where Marcel Prousts’ presence and his work are felt most strongly. In the heart of the village, the Marcel Proust Museum is hosted in the former residence of his aunt Léonie, where Marcel spent most of his childhood. An old Belle Epoque house where time stands still. Another favorite hang-out for Marcel was the church, a few steps away from the museum. Its original boat-shaped vault and shimmering colors seem to have been a source of inspiration to the future writer.
A "Proustian" garden
Beware! You’ll find a lot of things “Proustian” is Eure et Loir, meaning they are associated with Marcel Proust. Proustian reveries, Proustian moments…and of course a Proustian garden. When Marcel visited Eure et Loir, he often followed his uncle to a special garden: the Pré Catelan. From the Pré Catelan, the plains of the Beauce area spread out as far as the eye can see, a feeling of immensity described in his work. He particularly enjoyed spending time in the English garden, by the meandering stream, surrounded by luxuriant vegetation. No wonder this garden is now one of the best places to indulge in serenity…and savour an authentic little madeleine while you’re there.
The memory of a madeleine
In his novel, Proust famously relates how vivid memories of his childhood are invoked after sipping a spoonful of tea mixed with soaked crumbs of a ‘petite madeleine’, a sweet buttery shell-shaped French cake baked by his aunt Léonie. In the book, he describes precisely the ability of odours to elicit emotions. Here, the memory of a madeleine brings forth a flood of remembered sights and sounds from his childhood.
A Proustian delicacy to sample
Wind back the clock to those sweetest childhood memories with this traditional little shell-shaped cake you can only find at “La Madeleine de Proust” those days. A unique recipe, a delicious buttery taste, simplicity of childhood and innocence… you are invited to take a tasty trip down memory lane.
Explore the world ofMarcel Proust
Le Pré CatelanILLIERS-COMBRAY
Swann Park on the banks of the Loir, designed by Proust's uncle, is a place charged with romance and atmosphere. Based on the informal style garden, it made a profound mark on the author.Read more
Château de VillebonVILLEBON
Tall towers, deep moats, a drawbridge… 7 centuries of French history at the Château de Villebon, a fairytale castle sure to enchant your kids.Read more
Moulin à vent PelardBOUVILLE
Discover and understand the post mill, typical to the Beauce region, and made entirely from wood.Read more
Hôtel Les AubépinesILLIERS-COMBRAY
Follow in the footsteps of Marcel Proust in Illiers-Combray. Just opposite the train station where the Proust family would alight, this recently refurbished hotel is a luxurious retreat set in a 19th-century townhouse. A very modern level of comfort ...Read more