Every year, our territory seduces many visitors with its quality of life and the many activities it offers. History has shown that Normandy was coveted by the greatest of this world. Actors, architects, painters or even writers had also chosen to settle there, or to go there for their summer or winter holidays. We have listed a handful.

Famous people who left their mark on Normandy

I promise, this has nothing to do with a school lesson! Between storytellers, important men and inspiring women, here is a list of personalities who have described our territory or have actively participated in its transformation.

Marcel Proust (1871-1922)

We no longer present it. A renowned author, he played a major role in the development of the region from the end of the XNUMXth century.e century. Very inspired, he will notably represent the city of Cabourg in the volumes of In search of lost time.

Statue Marcel Proust

We dedicated an article to him here in which we invite the curious and lovers of literature to follow in his footsteps with the visit of a handful of emblematic places.

William the Conqueror (1027-1087)

Duchy of Normandy, the latter was born in Falaise, in the current department of Calvados. He notably marked the region with a battle at home in 1053, which allowed him to establish his authority. 1066 marks the departure of his fleet for England. The goal ? Reclaim the crown that was rightfully his. A battle he will win against Harold and which will be called the Battle of Hastings. 

Liste des compagnons de Guillaume le Conquérant

Did you know?

In the Church of Our Lady of Dives-sur-Mer is the list of companions of William the Conqueror who followed him in his battle for England.

Roland-Garros (1888-1918) 

Aviator and brilliant military aviation officer, he chained altitude records:

  • 3950 meters, setting off from Cancale beach on September 4, 1911;
  • 4960 meters, setting off from Houlgate with a Blériot XI-80, a unique specimen made of fir, on September 6, 1912;
  • 5610 meters, setting off from Tunis on December 11, 1912. 

Find out why the Promenade Roland Garros is so called.

Commander Kieffer (1899-1962)

Commander of 1er battalion of commando marine riflemen, the latter played an essential role during the 1944 landing, which earned him the title of Commander of the Legion of Honor on 22 November 1955. It is to him that we owe the first battalion of commando marine riflemen, today known as the Kieffer Commandos. 

The Harcourts

Family descended from the French nobility, the Harcourts, from Normandy, have long won high-ranking positions: governors (François d'Harcourt), elected members of the French Academy (François-Henri d'Harcourt) and secretary general of the presidency of the Republic (Emmanuel d'Harcourt). Their archives are now kept in the National Archives. The house of Harcourt, who was present at Beuvron-en-Auge, was moreover a surviving family of this French nobility.

Houlgate: “the place to be” for illustrious vacationers 

Yes, they lived elsewhere. However, the personalities that we present below have indeed stayed (on an ad hoc and sometimes regular basis) in Houlgate. Because there is no more ideal holiday destination.  

Promenade Roland Garros

#1: Actors

Jean-Paul Belmondo (1933-2021), who shot many feature films in the region. LikeA Monkey in winter, where we recognize the orientation table sealed on a casemate of the Second World War as well as the Houlgate Beach. A film in which he shares the screen with Jean Gabin (1904-1976), also used to the Pays d'Auge. 

Sacha Guitry (1885-1957), who used to accompany his wife (who was a lyric soprano) Yvonne Printemps when she performed at the Houlgate Casino. Note that it was at Houlgate that the playwright had his first flight, with Roland Garros in 1913. 

Louis Verneuil (1893-1952), actor who spent many summer vacations at the Casa Bianca villa, owned by his family. It was at the Houlgate casino that he made his debut.

And it was not without a certain emotion that I walked the boards of the small theater of the Casino de Houlgate on which had been represented my first essays in 1910 and 1911.

Louis Verneuil, on his return to the Norman town. 

#2: Architects

Jacques-Claude Baumier (1824-1886), to whom we owe the first villas of the resort of Houlgate but also certain buildings in Deauville and Caen. In total, he has signed no less than thirty houses there, but also the central part of the Grand Hotel. For his own pleasure, he built the villa Les Tamaris in 1861. His republican ideas had earned him the imprisonment of Napoleon III. 

Eugene Mauclerc (1853-1917) is at the origin of all the constructions, Grand Hotel, casino, and villas, which surrounds the gardens of the Casino in Cabourg. Talented, he has his own style while responding to the architectural fashion of the end of the XNUMXth century.e and the beginning of the XXe century. Like his colleague Baumier – best known for having played his talent at Houlgate – he handles all styles: neo-Gothic, neo-Norman and eclectic, sometimes cleverly mixing these last two. This will earn him the recognition of the mayor of Cabourg, Mr. Charles Bertrand, of his counterparts, but also of architectural collections.

In Dives-sur-Mer, he had a neo-Gothic style villa built for himself which also served as his architect's studio.

Mauclerc's achievements on the flowered coast are numerous. Here is a non-exhaustive list of his achievements:

In Cabourg :

  • Plan of the casino gardens subdivision 1887
  • The Grand Hotel: 1907 (with Lucien Viraut).
  • The casino: 1909 (with Lucien Viraut).
  • Filberts
  • The Little Abbey
  • Marmosets
  • Maurice
  • Maxim
  • Marguerite
  • Jerome and Mamika
  • Bertha
  • Hotel Normandy
  • Maurice
  • Pibola
  • Bonaric
  • The Little Norman

In Houlgate:

  • The Casino
  • Trader's Villa
  • Villa Les Mésanges

In Varaville : The sands

In Deauville :

  • Villa Les Giroflées, then commercial building called Agence Desmoulin
  • Sage-Powder
  • Chalet-Chalet
  • La maison du coin, Le Printemps store in 1912 with Wyboo

In Tourgeville: Villa Morse

In Benerville: The Flying Heart

In Hermanville: the seaweeds

Are you passionate about architecture?

Meet the villas of Houlgate by borrowing the circuit of Belle Époque villas and discover more about our territory with the circuits and courses of the tourist office.

Circuits Villas et patrimoine Merville-Franceville-Plage et Varaville

Tours Villas and heritage Merville-Franceville-Plage and Varaville

Circuits des Villas

Villa tours

Circuits chapelle de Clermont et églises de charme

Clermont chapel tours and charming churches

Circuits des falaises des Vaches Noires et Gonnevilles-sur-Mer

Circuits of the Vaches Noires and Gonnevilles-sur-Mer cliffs

Circuits Patrimoine et estuaire de la Dives

Heritage and estuary tours of the Dives

Circuits des impressionnistes de Cabourg et Houlgate

Impressionist tours of Cabourg and Houlgate

Parcours Village d’art Guillaume le Conquérant

William the Conqueror Art Village Route

Parcours Guillaume le Conquérant

William the Conqueror route

#3: Artists

Writers, musicians or even painters: many emblematic figures of French cultural life had their habits in Normandy. Here is a non-exhaustive list. 

George Sand (1804-1876)

She wrote wings of courage, a collection of short stories, taking place for the most part on the cliffs of Houlgate. “By dint of look at the birds, he knew them by their flight, however high they were in the sky. He knew their habits of travel, how cranes soar to cut through drafts, how starlings fly in close flocks, how birds of prey soar, and how wild geese follow each other in a line at equal distance., she wrote, poetically describing the local wildlife.

Emile Zola (1840-1902)

Considered one of the most popular French novelists in the world, he inspired many artists, such as Alfred Bruneau, who adapted his novel The dream. During his existence, Calmann Levy invited him to reside in Houlgate, in the villa La Côte. Besides, Levy was not the only one to invite Émile Zola to Normandy. Indeed, Monsieur Fasquelle, a great publisher at the time, also invited him to stay in the villa Le Bois Nicole.

Jacques Ibert (1890-1962)

Composer, he stayed in Houlgate in the first half of the XXe century, within the family villa – he had in fact married the granddaughter of the owner of the Villa Armengaud. It was there that he notably composed the Symphonie Normande in 1948. 

Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921)

A renowned pianist who, during the First World War, organized numerous charity concerts, the profits of which were donated to the wounded. He was regularly invited to play the harmonium at the church of Houlgate. 

Edgar Degas (1834-1917)

One of the greatest French impressionists. He lived with his nephews in 1869, in the villa La Béthanie.

Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894)

He stays, in July 1960, in one of the six rooms of the Grand Hotel de Houlgate praised by his family. An excursion that will inspire his impressionist painting Parquet Planers, kept at the Musée d'Orsay.  

Berthe Morisot (1841-1895)

Painter and wife of Edouard Manet's brother (between artistic passion and love passion, there is sometimes only one step). When she went to Houlgate, she stayed at the Moulin Denise. 

But also… two inventors!

The Louis Lumiere brothers (Auguste: 1862-1954; Louis: 1864-1958), two engineers who lived for no less than eight years in Houlgate as a second home. The duo revolutionized the world of cinema and photography. Their first public screening took place in La Ciotat, in September 1895. They notably resided at the villa Les Lucioles and the villa Suzanne, and took advantage of their numerous stays in Houlgate to write the majority of their 600 articles and books. medical.