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Trouville-sur-Mer (Municipality, Calvados, France)

Last modified: 2005-02-26 by
Keywords: calvados | trouville-sur-mer | anchor | leopards: 2 (yellow) | lions: 2 (yellow) | seagull | savignac (raymond) | yacht club |
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[Flag of Trouville]by Arnaud Leroy

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Presentation of Trouville

Trouville-sur-Mer is a city of 5,000 inhabitants located on the Channel. The city is separated from the neighbouring city of Deauville by the estuary of the river Touques, crossed by the pont des Belges. The bridge received its name as a tribute to the Belgian brigade who liberated the cities of Deauville and Trouville in 1944. The coast between Trouville and Cabourg is nicknamed Côte Fleurie, and is a succession of sea resorts, from east to west : Trouville, Deauville, Benerville, Blonville, Villers, Houlgate and Cabourg.

The name of Trouville is of Norse origin. The root trou- has nothing to do with the French word trou (hole) and has been interpreted as Thoruflr, literally Thor's wolf. The suffix -ville comes from the Latin word villa, which designated a rural estate.
Therefore, Trouville can be understood as the "Thor's wolf's estate".

Trouville is divided into two distinct, but adjacent areas, the fishing port, built along the river Touques, and the sea resort, built along the sand beach.

In Normandy, the "industry" of sea bathing started in summer 1824 when the duchess of Berry came to Dieppe with a rich and brilliant court. Under the Second Empire (1852-1870), however, Dieppe was abandoned by the jet-set, and Trouville, located in a less windy environment, was elected "Queen of the Beaches". In fact, the local development of Trouville started in the 1830s, when the English fad of sea bathing was imported to Normandy. The oldest advertisement for Trouville dates back to 1837, in the local newspaper Le Pays d'Auge. Sea bathing was strictly regulated by a municipal decree in 1857: the beach was divided into three sectors, those for women's and men's bathing being separated by a mixed sector. The swimmers had to change their clothes in beach huts provided by the municipality, whereas rich people had "bathing machines" on casters. The railway station of Trouville-Deauville was inaugurated in 1863; the journey from Paris to Trouville-Deauville lasted 5 hours. In 1868, a center for hydrotherapy was built in the gardens of the city hall. Deauville, built from scratch in 1859 by duke of Morny, Napoléon's III half-brother, attracted several of the posh customers of Trouville.
The concurrence of Deauville, however, did not alter too much the fame of Trouville. In 1906, the tourist guide Joane mentioned "big horse races, international regattas, polo, clay pigeon shooting and the Eden-concert theater" in Trouville. The Hôtel de Paris had for regular customers the famous actresses Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923) and Réjane (1856-1920) and the artistic jet-set of Paris.

Trouville is said to have been "discovered" in 1825 by the painter Charles Mozin, but it seems that his colleagues Paul Huet and Eugène Isabey already knew the place. Corot spent his summer vacation in Trouville in 1828.
Trouville was then popularized by the painters of the Normand coast (Boudin, Monet and Pissaro, who also settled in Le Havre and Honfleur), and mostly by the writer Alexandre Dumas, who stuffed himself with shrimps and soles fished locally, and encouraged all his friends from Paris to join his meals.

In August 1836, young Gustave Flaubert, aged 15, spent his summer vacation with his family in the Auberge de l'Agneau d'Or in Trouville. On a windy day, he picked up on the beach of Trouville a cape belonging to the beautiful Elisa Schlesinger, aged 26. Elisa's husband was favourably impressed by his wife's shy pretender, and invited him to join them in yachting parties. Elisa seems not to have noticed that Flaubert was deeply in love with her. Two years later, Flaubert wrote his first short story based on those events, and called it Mémoires d'un fou. Elisa's cape can be considered as the founding event of Flaubert's career in literature. Flaubert came back to Trouville only once in 1853.

In summer 1891, young Marcel Proust, aged 20, spent a few weeks in Trouville in a villa which partially inspired the Raspelière villa in A la recherche du temps perdu. In 1893 and 1894, Marcel stayed with his mother in appartment #110, on the first floor of Hôtel des Roches. This big neo-rococco hotel was built by Cordier in 1866. It included an arms room, a hydrotherapic spa and gambling rooms which attracted the dandies of the late XIXth century. Proust wrote there a few minor texts later published in the anthology Les Plaisirs et les Jours. In 1893, Geneviève Strauss, widow of the musician Georges Bizet, and owner in Paris of a brilliant salon, built the Clos des Mûriers villa, close to the Roches Noires. In 1907, Proust abandoned Trouville for Cabourg, where the Grand Hôtel was more confortable and suitable to Marcel's health problems. Nearly 70 years later, the writer and movie director Marguerite Duras bought appartment # 110 in les Roches Noires. Count René de Obaldia, a member of the French Acadmy famous for his whimsical theater plays Du vent dans les branches de sassafras, Monsieur Klebs et Rozalie and Les innocentines, also lives at Hôtel des Roches.

Marguerite Duras described the incredible alignment of villas along the beach of Trouville as "the most beautiful tracking of the history of cinema". These old villas built in a great diversity of pseudo-styles (Normand manors, alpine houses, Moorish pavilions with minarets etc.) at the end of the XIXth century are still there in spite being eaten into by salt and wind.

The port of Trouville constitutes the second borough of the city. Its main building is the fish auction building (criée aux poissons). In 1934, the newly elected mayor Fernand Moureaux attempted to emphasize the traditional character of Trouville, as opposed to Deauville. The local architect Maurice Vincent built in 1936 a modern building inspired by the Lieutenance house and the porch of the St. Catherin's church in Honfleur. This building is one of the best examples of the Normand architecture of the first half of the XXth century. It was placed in 1992 on the list of the protected heritage by the French Institute of Architecture.

For those, like Alexandre Dumas, who are more interested in edible animals, the lobster à la Trouville is prepared with mushrooms, oysters, seafruit and truffle, and topped with sauce Mornay (which is very ironical since Mornay is the founder of the rival resort of Deauville).


Ivan Sache, 20 December 2003

Municipal flag of Trouville

The most commonly used flag in Trouville is white with the municipal coat of arms placed above a big anchor in the middle.

The coat of arms of Trouville is (Brian Timms):

D'azur à la barque trouvillaise, équipeé d'argent, voguant sur une mer de sinople mouvant de la pointe; au chef de gueules chargé de trois etoiles d'or.

In English (same source):

Azure a trouvillaise fishing boat argent a champagne vert a chief gules three mullets or.

The trouvillaise fishing boat was traditionally used to fish shrimps, scallops and other products of the sea.

[Alternative flag of Trouville]by Arnaud Leroy

A variant of the flag has the full name of the municipality written below the coat of arms.

Ivan Sache, 20 June 2004

Alternative flag of Trouville

[Alternative flag of Trouville]by Arnaud Leroy

A second flag representing Trouville can be seen near the pont des Belges, which links Trouville and Deauville. This flag is red with the two leopards of Normandy in canton and the municipal emblem (coat of arms and anchor) in lower fly.

Ivan Sache, 20 December 2003

Flag of Trouville designed by Raymond Savignac

[Savignac's flag of Trouville]by Arnaud Leroy & Olivier Touzeau

Raymond Savignac (1907-2002) started his long career in 1933. Initially inspired by the famous art deco poster designer Cassandre (Adolphe Mouron, 1901-1968), Savignac progressively invented his personal style, the humoristic advertisement. His posters are always made of a pithy drawing related to the advertized product and never include additional, off-topic details.
Savignac's first big success was the poster advertizing the Monsavon au lait (lit., My milky soap) soap, which shows soap directly released by the cow udder. This poster, sticked up in 1949 in the métro (subway) corridors in Paris, was a breath of fresh air after the Second World War deprivations and censorship.

Savignac completely renovated the conception of advertizing posters by systematically using "graphical gags". In 1960, his poster advertizing the Floréal pasta (Les pâtes qui n'empâtent pas, the pasta which do not make you put on weight) showed a character made of a spaghetti eating himself. In 1965, his poster advertizing the Paris-Rhône vacuum cleaner showed the hat and hairs of the character sucked by the vacuum cleaner. Savignac often represented himself as the main character on his posters, as a small moustached jolly character, for instance on the Mazda battery poster.

The 1950-1960s were Savignac's most prolific years. In the 1970s, advertizers abandoned Savignac, who started a second career as the designer of official posters. He drew such posters for the National Lottery, the final of the football European Championships (1984), and museums such as the National Library (Voltaire exhibition, 1979) and the Museum of Man (1981). Savignac also designed film posters, for instance for Robert Bresson (Lancelot du Lac, 1974) and Yves Robert (Courage fuyons !, 1979). One of his last official work was two posters for an anti-drug campaign set up by the French Gendarmerie in 1995.

Raymond Savignac spent the last twenty years of his life in Trouville, where he remained extremely active until he passed away, aged 95. He designed a lot of posters advertizing the city, its hotels, restaurants, etc., which completely revamped the image of the city. In 1986, the Bal des Affiches was organized to celebrate him, and, of course, he designed the ball poster. A room of the municipal museum Villa Montebello was dedicated to Savignac's work in 1993. In 2001, the beach boardwalk was renamed Promenade Savignac and decorated with copies of his most famous posters.

Savignac proposed a flag for the city of Trouville, blue with the name of the city in white and a "graphical gag" involving the V of Trouville and a seagull. Most Savignac's posters related to Trouville include a seagull. Savignac did for instance a poster showing a seaman smoking a seagull-shaped pipe. Savignac's flag is used today by the Tourist Office.

Ivan Sache, 4 January 2004

Club Nautique de Trouville-Hennequeville

[CN Trouville-Hennequeville]by Ivan Sache

Hennequeville is located ca. 4 km north of Trouville.

The Club Nautique de Trouville-Hennequeville has a blue burgee with a red horizontal triangle extending from hoist to fly. The shape of the red device placed vertically along the hoist is not clear.

Source: CNTH website

Ivan Sache, 19 May 2001