A luxury hotel at the end of the Second Empire

A luxury hotel at the end of the Second Empire

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Title: The Hotel des Roches Noires, Trouville.

Author : MONET Claude (1840 - 1926)

School : Impressionism

Creation date : 1870

Date shown:

Dimensions: Height 80 - Width 55

Technique and other indications: Oil painting on canvas

Storage location: Orsay Museum website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - H. Lewandowski

Picture reference: 00DE5733 / RF 1947-30

The Hotel des Roches Noires, Trouville.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - H. Lewandowski

Publication date: July 2012

Historical context

The extremely wealthy clientele who, under the Second Empire, frequented the seaside resorts of the Normandy coast sought a stay by the sea for its supposed curative virtues, but also to enjoy the comfort and the art of living that were already theirs at Paris. She enjoys staying in luxury hotels and palaces which, while not welcoming all tourists, are "the essential part of a seaside resort." We can even say that there is no station without a hotel "(G. DÉSERT, Daily life on the Normandy beaches from the Second Empire to the Roaring Twenties, Hachette, 1983, p. 82).

Each has its own luxury pension: the Grand Hôtel de la Terrasse in Deauville, the Grand-Hôtel in Cabourg, the Roches-Noires in Trouville, which Monet represented in a painting from 1870. By its luxury and its Renowned, the Roches-Noires hotel is truly the “king of the Normandy coast”. Built under Napoleon III, it has suites and seventy-five rooms.

Image Analysis

Even if he wishes above all to capture the movements, the shimmering colors, the effects of light and wind, Monet also strives to accurately reflect the material conditions of the stay of the elite who frequent the Roches-Noires: the facade of the hotel, which occupies almost half of the painting, appears here in all its splendor, offering to the sea its creamy white and old rose walls, its slate roofs, its hundreds of windows and its Corinthian columns.

At the foot of the hotel stretches the promenade, enlarged by the perspective of the painting. The characters wander there, exchanging a few words. There are more women on the web than men, with the latter only joining the former at the weekend.

The international flags flapping in the wind remind us that in French seaside resorts like Trouville, American billionaires, English financiers, German industrialists and French aristocrats rub shoulders.


The Impressionists love the Normandy coast because they can study the light, the radiance of the sun and the changing colors of the seashore at leisure, but also perhaps because they are the privileged witnesses of a certain lifestyle, on the beach, in town or, as here, in front of a large classic palace, symbol of a prosperous era and the leisure activities of a social class.

In his Roches-Noires Hotel, Monet succeeded both in fixing the fleetingness of a sunny and windy afternoon and in capturing the prestige of a pleasant and serene place, where, for the European elite of the second half of the XIXe century, time passes slowly.

  • bourgeoisie
  • impressionism
  • Normandy
  • tourism
  • sea
  • beach


Daniel CLARY, Tourism and vacationing on the Normandy coast, State thesis, Caen, 1974.

Gabriel DESERT, Daily life on the Normandy beaches from the Second Empire to the Roaring Twenties, Paris, Hachette, 1983.

Robert-Louis HERBERT, Monet in Normandy, painting and seaside sites, 1867-1886, Paris, Flammarion, 1994.

Jacques-Sylvain KLEIN, Normandy: cradle of Impressionism: 1820-1900, Rennes, Éditions Ouest-France, 1996.

To cite this article

Ivan JABLONKA, "A luxury hotel at the end of the Second Empire"

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