Famous French writers’ bedrooms: Proust, Balzac and Hugo

MyFrenchLife™ – MyFrenchLife.org – MyFrenchLife™ - Famous French writers' bedrooms – Proust – Balzac – Hugo As a writer, I’ve always taken a passion in organisation across my work. Sadly, this has never stretched as far as to include my bedroom.

French writer bedrooms: a room of my own

When living in student accommodation, a good friend advised me to start with my own mess before tidying elsewhere – very logical advice that can also apply to everyday life, too. I was told to stay away from cleaning my shared kitchen until:“you have fresh flowers in your room;

  • “your bedroom floor is completely tidy, with NOTHING in the corners;
  • your books are all nicely arranged;
  • you’ve taken a bag of unwanted stuff to the charity shop and
  • you’ve browsed through a design magazine to gain ideas for your bedroom.”

The last piece of advice made me think that maybe my inspiration for a clean and tidy bedroom was hiding in a literary kind of design magazine; in the French writers I spent so much time studying.

I’ve chosen to look into 3 famous French writer’s bedrooms to see if they can be the key to inspiring my own bedroom arrangements, colour schemes, furniture choices and maybe even improving my writing!

French writers’ bedrooms: la chambre de Proust

Famous French writer Marcel Proust wrote, as we know, A la recherche du temps perdu, a world-record breaking set of works in terms of both length and number of characters.  He was said to often be a recluse in his bedroom during the later years of his life.

MyFrenchLife™ – MyFrenchLife.org – MyFrenchLife™ - Famous French writers' bedrooms – Proust – Balzac – Hugo

As a final year student, I understand the need for comfort and recluse during essay writing periods. I feel that a Proustian armchair in my room would help to ponder over essay paragraphs – or simply have a break from them – in a comfy yet stylish way

Unfortunately, the colour scheme is far from my taste.

I would prefer something far brighter, or even minimalistic with brighter furniture. However, the bedside table, would definitely be effective for those writing snacks, books I am working on, or even just a vase of fresh flowers to brighten the room.

Like Proust, my bed takes precedence in my university room, yet it often gets covered with clothes, books, papers and pens.

Although this photo is captured in Proust’s museum in Paris, it would seem unlikely Proust would write, as I often do, on my bed surrounded by clutter. I feel inspired to tidy my things, as a great French writer would!

French writers’ bedrooms: la chambre de Balzac

Honoré de Balzac, the creator of La Comedie humaine , was also labelled the father of Realism in the nineteenth-century.

His bedroom is found in La Maison de Balzac, now a museum in Paris, too!

MyFrenchLife™ – MyFrenchLife.org – MyFrenchLife™ - Famous French writers' bedrooms – Proust – Balzac – Hugo

I could imagine no desk to a finer standard than that of Balzac. I can almost picture myself sitting in his large armchair, with a wonderful view from his bedroom window. Enabling me to gaze out when needing time for self-reflection.

Balzac’s room confirms my need for a clean desk, with a minimalist lamp and shade to gain the perfect atmosphere when writing. I feel inspired to move all the trinkets on my desk into a draw; to have a clear work space and hopefully a clear mind for writing ideas!

I thought Balzac’s wallpaper was also an interesting idea for my own room. Perhaps I could create a feature wall with a soft colour to add to the calm atmosphere!

French writers’ bedrooms: la chambre de Victor Hugo

Victor Hugo, one of France’s most famous writers for Les Misérables and for his poetry, has to be admired for the style of his room. The colour choice is a deep red and allows his bedsheets, table cloth, and chairs to all match.

MyFrenchLife™ – MyFrenchLife.org – MyFrenchLife™ - Famous French writers' bedrooms – Proust – Balzac – Hugo

Maybe I could match my curtains, sheets, and desk with a similar styled colour scheme?

I also think the bedframe would be perfect if I were to have more space. Who wouldn’t want to feel like a queen in their own room?! The use of candles can also relate to the modern use of scented candles, which can be purchased with almost whatever aroma you desire for your bedroom… if only there was a fresh book aroma!

This museum is also found in Paris, although Victor Hugo does have his house in exile in Guernsey, a British Channel Island!

To find out more about where these incredible French writers’ bedrooms are located, why not read untapped city’s article.

Have you felt inspired to decorate your room like a famous writer/artist? What would you include in your ideal bedroom? We’d love to hear your thoughts and comments in the bow below!

Image credits:

  1. Victor Hugo’s bedroom, via Wikipedia
  2. Proust’s bedroom, by LWYang via Wikipedia
  3. Scriptorium Balzac, by Agota via Wikipedia

About the Contributor

Jessica Rushton

I'm a final year French student at University of Nottingham. I am passionate about French literature, in particular nineteenth-century French novels and love escaping to Paris for chocolat chaud. Follow me: my year abroad bloginstagram & twitter!

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  1. Keith Van Sickle Sep 15, 2018 at 9:02 AM - Reply

    Very nice!

    And then, of course, there’s Van Gogh’s famous bedroom in Arles: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bedroom_in_Arles

    • Jessica Rushton Sep 16, 2018 at 7:44 PM - Reply

      Of course!
      Thank you Keith, anything that you would use yourself from Van Gogh’s famous bedroom? I’m not keen on the colour scheme myself, may become a headache!!! 🙂

      • Keith Van Sickle Sep 17, 2018 at 1:39 AM - Reply

        Good point about the color scheme!

        I’m not sure what I’d use from this bedroom but I’ve had the good fortune to visit another one of Van Gogh’s bedrooms, the one he used when he was in the asylum in nearby St-Rémy. The room itself is very simple but it has a lovely view over a lavender field just outside. If I could have anything from Van Gogh’s room it would be that view!

        • Jessica Rushton Sep 17, 2018 at 6:38 PM - Reply

          How fantastic! You’re very lucky to have visited one of the bedrooms!
          I would love to have such a stunning view too. I think it would make the creative process a lot easier at times…or the daydreaming! I know that Flaubert was very fond of his garden when writing, he would often spend hours reading his work aloud to the trees to see if it sounded “correct”. Maybe its the fresh air and nature that inspired him? Who knows!

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