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Tourgéville; the diary of a small Normandy village

Our postcard did not name the view, it just said ‘La vieille chaumières Normande’ ‘the old Normandy cottages’. We studied it many times trying to place the strong outline of the church next to the higgledy piggledy houses, before letting the postcard drift to the bottom of the heap.  Then one morning as we zoomed along the D27, towards a brocante atelier with huge vintage petrol pumps in the front garden, we saw a familiar scene in our rear view mirrors. Of course, it was Tourgéville!

Match! ‘La vieille Chaumières Normande’

Not the famous Boudin painted views of Tourgéville along the coast, this is the tiny inland village.  Just a few homes, a church and Maire.  WW2 historians will know it for the Commonwealth military cemetery. Holidaymakers may have stayed at the local campsite or the nearby grand country hotels.  Until that day we had only driven through.

Did anything ever happen in this hamlet?!

Researching Tourgéville was as frustrating as our original card.  There were just a few vague references, nothing specific.  Then we came across a rather unusual website. is a 10 year labour of love by Langrune native Jean-Yves Merienne who sources fascinating snippets from newspapers in local archives and illustrates them with vintage postcards.  M. Merienne started researching Lagrune then gradually extended his investigations to include most of the villages and towns in Calvados.

Thanks to M. Merienne, Tourgéville is no longer just a street we drive through, it is a village where we know all of life’s dramas, large and small, have taken place.

‘La vieille chaumières Normande’ the old Normandy cottages in Tourgéville

Here is Tourgéville from 1866 to 1945

November 1866 – Migration. More birds have migrated over from northern countries this winter than have ever arrived before, especially storks, cranes and herons.  This is most likely the precursor of an early and severe winter.

November 1866 – Shooting stars. Astronomers are expecting beautiful showers of stars during the nights of 12 and 13 this month.  At this time of the year we generally see many shooting stars but this winter the celestial spectacle is considered the brightest for a century.

January 1867 – The cold. The evening and part of the night from Saturday to Sunday was marked by exceptional temperature.  Fine, icy rain fell for several hours and covered our streets and public squares in a sea of ice, on which only the most seasoned managed to keep their balance. There were many falls, several resulted in accidents, some serious.

January 1867 – The snow. For two days, but mainly during the night from Tuesday to Wednesday, snow fell in great abundance.  Letters from our correspondents inform us that it is the same across the Department.

January 1870 – The Canton. The names of the towns that will be part of the new township of Trouville have been announced; Trouville, Deauville, Villerville, Touques, Saint-Arnoult, énerville and Tourgéville have been removed from Pont l’Eveque.  Blonville and Vauville are detached from the township of Dozulé. To offset the loss, the canton of Pont-Eveque is gaining Blangy, Saint-Julien-sur-Calonne, Pierrefitte and Old Bourg.  Glaville will join Dozulé. The cantons of Honfleur and Cambremer are unchanged.

August 1873 – Gleaning. At harvest time, it is useful to recall a judgment of the Court of Cassation concerning the right of gleaning. The owners and farmers believe it is a voluntary act of generosity to let the poor of the town rake and scrape after completion of the harvest. This is a mistake.  Allowing gleaning is a duty in law set by the Supreme Court.

Farm workers in Calvados
Farm workers in Calvados

March 1879 – Suspension. Following a rather lively altercation that took place at Tourgéville, between the Under-Prefect for Pont l’Eveque and E. Simon, Mayor of Saint-Arnoult, E. Simon is suspended from all mayoral duties for two months ‘for disrespecting the sub-prefect in the exercise of his functions and wearing his badges’.

February 1882 – Accidental death.  Thursday at four o’clock Louise Caillebotte age 18, who worked as a domestic for Collard Sieur of Tourgéville, drowned in a pond.

January 1884 – Cold death.  Michel-Jacques Devaux aged 63, who lived Trouville, was found dead in Tourgéville, on a small mound at the edge of the road. The autopsy found that death was attributed to a stroke, caused by the cold and misery. This man, who slept outside, had been ill for several days.

September 1908 – Mysterious and terrible discovery. As Leon Vannier, domestic rubbish contractor from Deauville, emptied barrels of garbage into the garden of Mr. Marie of Tourgéville he saw amongst the scraps a newborn female corpse. Very moved by his discovery Vannier went to inform the police, who proceeded to investigate. The cask also contained a paper printed with the name of a Norman restaurant; Maison Jicquiel. Mr Jicquiel was questioned but could not provide any useful explanation. A thorough search was made ​​in the hotel but with no result. Mr Jicquiel did however say that the hotel rubbish was emptied every eight days. The police will have to investigate everyone who attended the hotel during this period. The small body was deposited at the morgue. The investigation is ongoing.

girl and boy in traditional normandy costumes postcard carte postale hand tinted
Girl and boy in traditional Normandy costumes

August 1912 – Bicycle theft. There is an investigation about a bicycle theft committed against Mr. Petit, 36, a former notary residing at Tourgéville. On 7 August Mr. Petit left his bicycle on the porch of the Hotel de France, Tourgéville.  It disappeared. He saw it the next day in the hands of Henri Lamée, 35, a mechanic from Paris who is currently staying with his mother in Tourgéville. He said he bought the bicycle from a stranger. Mr Petit has made a formal complaint to the police.

July 1919 – Burglary at night. On the night of Wednesday to Thursday malefactors broke, with an iron bar, the door of a farm building belonging to Mrs Reagan near Tourgéville in the hamlet of Sollier, and stole 120 cheeses. Suspicion falls on a young scamp from Saint-Pierre; Azif, who already has a deplorable history.

Pont l Eveque cheese label from Tourgeville (2)
Traditional Tourgéville cheese label

The same night a turkey was stolen worth 35 francs and two turkeys killed that belonged to Madame Lebey, a local farmer.  Two foreign men and a woman who have been seen in the area are suspects. This is the second time in 15 days these two farms have been the victims of burglary.

September 1919 – Dairy burglary. On Tuesday morning when going into her dairy Mrs. Reagan, a farmer in the Tourgéville hamlet of Sollier, noticed that the bars of a window had been bent.  She then saw that she was the victim of a theft. The criminals have abducted 85 cheeses, butter, eggs, a piece of bacon that was locked in the pantry and a basket of fruit. Mrs. Reagan estimated the loss totals 38 francs. There are no suspects.

Pont l Eveque cheese label from Tourgeville Calvados
Traditional Tourgéville cheese label

February 1927 – A disappearance. Missing since the 15th, the widow Louise Hemery age 64 from Tourgéville was found dying, face against the ground, in a pasture belonging to the Widow Augé a farmer in Villers-sur-mer, by a young servant, Désiré Rebut. The poor woman died without saying a word. It was agreed she was a victim of misery and cold.

June 1940 – The German time. We know that Germany is to the East of France and that, therefore, the sun it up earlier. The difference is large enough to make a difference of one hour between Paris and Berlin. So we are instructed to advance our watches and our clocks on Monday night. Yes we are already in summer time! Whatever, it is a beautiful season to be up earlier!

November 1940 – Fire! A serious fire of unknown cause almost completely destroyed the Villa Fontaine in Tourgéville, property of Mr. Gautier, bailiff and mayor of Balleroy.

May 1944 – Black market. Armed police have confiscated 17 kilos of butter, 500 eggs, 35 cheeses, 2 litres of cream, a rooster, a litre of Calvados brandy (d’eau-de-vie) from a car driven by Deauville cabby Jean Meziere.

April 1944 – theft of alcohol. An investigation by the Trouville police into the theft of six sheep uncovered a major case of alcohol theft. 1,500 litres of spirits were stolen from a farm in Tourgéville.  The goods were sold to the fence Lelièvre who distributed it among 7 cronies who were also arrested. The criminals have confessed.

March 1945 – A fire. A fire broke out in Tourgéville in the farm shed rented by Mr. Drieu. Despite the rapid intervention of the fire brigade from Deauville, the shed and much of the fodder it contained were engulfed in flames.

And that is were the history finishes, for now.

Tourgéville today

This pretty village has enthusiastic supporters who ensure it’s heritage buildings are well looked after.  A finer example of La vieille chaumières Normande will be hard to find.

The old cottages in Tourgéville, Calvados
The old cottages in Tourgéville, Calvados


Read the original Tourgeville page

Visiting Calvados? Check out the history of your town or village here (in Chrome brower for instant translation)

Read about Jean-Yves Merienne and his website in Ouest-France


One thought on “Tourgéville; the diary of a small Normandy village

  1. One of my favourite villages on that pictoresquedrive between Caen and Deauville! So glad you have posted this! I am dreaming to get inside one of Theodora under the most beautiful straw roof in Calvados!

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