Old postcard Auberge du Cygne TotesOld postcard Auberge du Cygne Totes
©Postcard of the Hotel du Cygne in Totes|Collection A. Rigel

The Auberge du Cygne : V.I.P. den


Do you know the Auberge du Cygne in Tôtes? This jewel of the local heritage, a restaurant well known by the locals, is engraved in history in more than one way. If walls could talk, those of this inn would have a lot to say!


You’ve most likely heard of it already!

For me, it’s a memory from middle school, a particularly interesting read since the story was set in our region. Those who have read it know what short story I’m talking about, one of the most famous by Guy de Maupassant, Boule de Suif.


Unity of place of a masterpiece

Suet Ball

Small points of fire appeared ahead on the road. It was Tôtes. We had walked eleven hours, which, with the two hours of rest left in four times to the horses to eat oats and blow, made fourteen. One entered the borough and in front of the Hotel du Commerce one stopped.

Guy de Maupassant, Boule de Suif

In addition to having inspired the unity of place of the novella, where the inn is described under the name of Hotel du Commerce, it was here that Maupassant, who stayed there in 1879, is said to have written the story that his friend Gustave Flaubert would describe as his masterpiece.

The same Gustave Flaubert who was no stranger to the place, since he stayed there himself, working on part of his famous novel Madame Bovary in passing. Listen opposite to the sound track dedicated to Tôtes and Madame Bovary in our Flaubert tour!

The origins...

But let’s go back to its origins… Founded in 1611 the establishment becomes in 1756 a Relais de Poste Royale, thanks to its privileged situation of road crossroads between Dieppe and Rouen, status that it will keep until the suppression of this institution due to the growing competition of the railway. After which the place will continue to accommodate travelers by keeping the activity of Auberge.

Thus, many personalities will be accommodated there through the ages: D’Artagnan, Madame de Pompadour, Napoleon I and his wife Josephine, King Louis Philippe, and in less distant times the Belgian King Albert I and his wife Queen Elisabeth, and even the American President Dwight Eisenhower!

It must be said that the Auberge knew in the forties and fifties an important fame thanks to the cuisine of Chef Monsieur Richard, holder of a Michelin star.

The rebirth of a mythical place

Whoever has ever had the opportunity to enter this superb place has instantly found the setting described by Maupassant. The huge fireplace and its period accessories, the large china cabinet and its many colored plates, the typical decoration on the wooden beams, one would have expected to see the characters of Boule de Suif walk through the door! Closed for a few years, the Auberge du Cygne was patiently waiting for its reopening to revive a local historical and literary heritage.

It is since September 2022 done and it awaits you to taste the good local products following the footsteps of Maupassant!”