Interpretations of the differing locations of Royale-les-Eaux in Casino Royale & OHMSS

edited April 2013 in Literary 007 Posts: 48
Edit: I've been asked to combine two discussions on the differing locations of Royale-les-Eaux into one. The first posts are the original discussion about the location in Casino Royale. The second discussion regarding the different location in OHMSS is added several posts further down in this discussion. Thanks, CM

RE. An interpretation of the location of Royale-les-Eaux in Casino Royale

I think Le Tréport is the best match to Royale-les-Eaux. It was a fishing village had a casino before 1909 and still has a casino. It is between “just north of Dieppe” and the “mouth of the Somme”.

According to a CIA map with information from 1951, Le Tréport just is in the department of Seine-Inférieure as described in one of the definitive geographic descriptions of the location in the address on the telegram to Bond.

Since Le Tréport is against the southern side of the southern border of Picardy and north of Brittany and LeHavre it could possibly be seen as located “before the flat coastline soars up from the beaches of southern Picardy to the Brittany cliffs which run on to Le Havre”. How that would work exactly I probably can’t explain.

Another definitive geographic locator is in the description of Bond’s drive south down the coast road to check out Le Chiffre’s hideout. On the return trip to Royale-les-Eaux he takes a more inland road back north to where it crosses “the Route Nationale to Paris”. Since there are no other directions given I presume the Route Nationale returned him to Royale-les-Eaux on the coast. According to the 1951 map and a 1954 Esso map the only Route Nationale between just north of Dieppe and the mouth of the Somme that crosses an inland road and goes from the coast to Paris is Route Nationale 15 Bis [15A]. It is now known as D1015 but is still labeled “Route de Paris” on Google Maps. Route Nationale 15 Bis was a branch of N1 which runs to Paris and begins in Le Tréport.

What do you think?


Thread title slightly changed to incorporate OHMSS into the discussion.


  • Nice first post, and welcome to the board, @Cameron_Mott. I believe that your post is plausible as to the location of Royale. It is quite possible that Fleming would have found inspiration in Le Treport, but unless he made notes, we will never know.
  • 0BradyM0Bondfanatic70BradyM0Bondfanatic7 It was this or the priesthood.
    Posts: 27,819
    Royale-les-Eaux is also the site of Vesper's grave.
  • Royale-les-Eaux is described as both "in the neighborhood of" and "about ten miles" north of Le Chiffre's villa which is "just north of Dieppe". Le Treport is about 16 miles north of Dieppe. If 10 miles is "in the neighborhood", 6 miles could qualify as "just north" I suppose. It fits better than more northern locations, in Picardy for instance, and more northern locations don't meet the telegram address or route nationale specifications.

    Also nothing less than 10 miles north of Dieppe would qualify which disqualifies anything south of the Tocqueville sur Eu area. Anything north of there and would still need to be within Seine-Inférieure. Royale is also on the coast and has an old port. On the 50's maps that leaves only Criel-Plage and Mesnil Val Plage as additional possibilities. Criel-Plage and Mesnil Val Plage appear to have been coastal towns with populations of less than 2,000. It's not clear on the old maps whether they had ports, let alone old ports, but on modern Google Maps they do not appear to have ports at all. Both are presumably disqualified anyway beause they are not on a route nationale to Paris.

    I believe Le Treport is the only city that fits Fleming's specs.
  • Posts: 3,552
    Nice research @Cameron_Mott, and welcome to the forums. Your assumptions sound pretty solid. However I wouldn´t insist on the possibility that Fleming chose one certain town and just gave it another name. He could have taken a number of towns for inspiration and constructed the location he wanted for the novel?
  • Thanks and yes. Le Treport seems to be the best fit to the geographic spot Fleming describes in Casino Royale and then he seems to describe another entirely different geographic spot for Royale in OHMSS. I think the trouble has been in trying to make the descriptions of two different locations for Royale fit a single location.

    The layout of the town of Royale-les-Eaux does not seem to be necessarily based on Le Treport. I couldn't find any evidence of sulphurous mineral water springs in the area either. There did not seem to be a "coast road" that fits the description. It seems to me there probably is a mix of reality based location with fictionalized town in the Royale-les-Eaux of Casino Royale.

    I've made a sort of hobby of mapping the locales in the Fleming books. I find that his geography is usually reality based and seemingly usually very accurate but with fictionalized details. Sometimes the trick is finding out what the road was back in the era. If anyone has a FRWL era map of Istanbul I'd love a copy. Sometimes you can take a "driving tour" of some of the locales as they exist today with Google Maps street view.

    I've also made a sort of hobby of seeking images of the era of the locales, buildings, cars, airplanes, decor, guns, and so forth described in the books. It gives me a better feel for the times of the novels.
  • DragonpolDragonpol Schloss Drache. On Twitter: @Dragonpol. Writer/Director @ The Bondologist Blog.
    Posts: 11,059
    I think Fleming based Casino Royale on Deauville in France. There is much evidence for this in interviews and other printed sources.
  • I don't doubt it. I'm just saying the location he describes for the fictional city in Casino Royale is Le Treport.
  • DragonpolDragonpol Schloss Drache. On Twitter: @Dragonpol. Writer/Director @ The Bondologist Blog.
    Posts: 11,059
    I don't doubt it. I'm just saying the location he describes for the fictional city in Casino Royale is Le Treport.

    Oh, sorry. I misunderstood. There's a great docu on You Tube called The Real Casino Royale from BBC Four in November 2006 - seek it out!
  • Will do. Thanks.
  • I guess I'm proposing we were ignoring or bending the very specific real world verifiable clues of the department it was in and that it was a coastal town on a route nationale to Paris within a narrowly defined area in favor of trying to make sense of the vague and confusing anecdotal Picardy/Le Havre description. And the description of a different location for R-L-E in OHMSS wasn't helpful either.

  • DragonpolDragonpol Schloss Drache. On Twitter: @Dragonpol. Writer/Director @ The Bondologist Blog.
    Posts: 11,059
    I guess I'm proposing we were ignoring or bending the very specific real world verifiable clues of the department it was in and that it was a coastal town on a route nationale to Paris within a narrowly defined area in favor of trying to make sense of the vague and confusing anecdotal Picardy/Le Havre description. And the description of a different location for R-L-E in OHMSS wasn't helpful either.

    Keep up your very interesting research. It's much needed and respected on these boards.
  • edited April 2013 Posts: 1,984
    I've already came across Le Treport as a possible location for Royale-Les-Eaux. I tried to find a link, I just found a comment en passant in a French movie forum in 2006 about why "Casino Royale" was spelled that way (eh, I found a "Ludovico" there in the thread :) )

    It's not the most "popular" location, as the OHMSS comment looks so "easier" to use that the Casino Barriere in Le Touquet even actively uses it, and describes itself as the place that is Casino Royale (it proposed the French 007 fan club to host events there and at the Hotel Westminster where Fleming stayed).

    The fact there are some inconsistencies within the books did not indeed help to actively search for where it was "exactly" supposed to be. As far as the "mood" of Royale-les-Eaux is concerned, yes it looks a lot like Deauville (Paris' wealthy inhabitants' destination of choice in this zone), even more than Le Touquet.

    But actually IMO the biggest problem may well be that to a French ear, "Royale-les-eaux" really does not look sound a name a coastal city would have ! "Anything-les-eaux" means the city was built around mineral water sources there. I think all such cities are well within the land, except for Le Revest Les Eaux (which is a bit close to the coast but not coastal either), whose sources come from mountains that are close to the sea (something that doesn't exist in the North West of France). So there's something weird at the very basis...

    To end on something "funny" : "Casino Royale" looks at first like a spelling mistake in French. So for quite some time the books were translated into :

    And even the anthology in 2 volumes :
    Only after the release of the movie the final E came back !
  • DragonpolDragonpol Schloss Drache. On Twitter: @Dragonpol. Writer/Director @ The Bondologist Blog.
    Posts: 11,059
    That's interesting as when Fleming was interviewed on radio or TV he pronounced the name of his first novel as "Casino Royal" rather than "Casino Royale", suggesting that it was the pronunciation back then or just his way of saying the title? An interesting point, nonetheless.
  • @Suivez_ce_parachute

    I had never seen anything regarding Le Treport. It would be intersting to see how they worked it through.

    The R-L-E location of OHMSS is interesting and/or frustrating. The most concrete thing as I remember is the Michelin [?] sign 5 miles south of Montreuil. There are a lot of ways he could have gone from that sign if he had not been chasing Tracy up the N1. Berck-sur-Mer maybe doesn't fit the distances stated on the sign so great as a geographic location unless you take a sort of meandering route. Maybe I'm wrong, still looking. Seems like some of the description of the town layout maybe fits B-S-M fairly well. I've never been.
  • edited April 2013 Posts: 1,984
    I guess that for Le Treport, once you decide "arbitrarily" Seine Maritime + close to the Somme are the two main rules you should respect, you have not much choice (even without looking at the roads as you did to have more data).

    As for pinpointing exactly where it is, well first really IMO the big problem is the name of the city, which is a huge inconsistency (Google "commune les eaux" to find the few cities in France, all are cities build around thermal water sources etc as I wrote above).

    Even the "official" Royale-les-eaux website (they choose Le Touquet) doesn't try to explain the name :)

    Royale-les-Eaux "official" page

    Second, I think we're used to see French twisted geography even in French novels, so we don't really try to map everything geographically, it's always a mix of several locations... For instance, Arsene Lupin's author, Maurice Leblanc, actually lived in a house very close to the Hollow Needle, and as he used the "historical conspiracies theories" in many novels, many fans are trying to guess where are the places he's writing about because some are so detailed in his books (with maps etc.). A random link doing with Leblanc what you're doing with Fleming :

  • edited April 2013 Posts: 48

    Do you not think the description of the history of the name in the novel does the trick or you think it is not credible to have a city of waters on a coast and be named for the waters instead of the sea?
  • edited April 2013 Posts: 1,984
    Well, for me it's a bit hard to try to think too "logically" about all this. First, I've got no geological knowledge to know if a city of waters on a coast can exist without at least mountains for the source to actually develop enough to be usable, etc, etc (I'm infering all this from the places where one can find "Les Eaux" cities in France). Second, even a city like Trouville which can be described as a city of waters on a coast, was named "Trouville-sur-Mer" (-on-sea), and not "les-eaux" ! The thermal center is even closed now :)

    And trying to find details to answer you, I propose you another hypothesis : Mers-les-Bains. First, "-les-bains", is also a hint about water (salt or not !) - it means bath - Fleming could have changed into "les-eaux" (which IMO is more running water only, not sea water), and then invent sources near it to explain it. It also has the history of a fishing village exploding into a resort. The English wikipedia page is short on content, but the French one describes it more, and it really looks a bit like Royale's history (they even mention the casino in the French page).

    And what are the first lines about Royale Les Eaux in the book ? It says it's on the coast, before the flat beaches turn into high cliffs (even if it uses an inconsistent geographical comparison)

    And here is Le Treport on the foreground, and Mers-les-Bains in the background :


    Mers-les-Bains has both the high cliffs (as high as Dover), and the "long" flat beach.
    But Mers-les-Bains is not in the Seine Maritime, it's in the Somme :) The limit between both is at the center of the photo !

    But that's really where the beach turns into a cliff !


    And Mers-les-Bains and Treport really are the same "city" if you don't care about the administrative limits.. So the location may be this Le Treport + Mers-les-Bains "cities"...

    Also FYI, here's a French page that explains why le Touquet is very likely the main reference when Royale-les-Eaux is described in OHMSS (for instance : the swimming pool there in 1930 was the largest of Europe, and Fleming writes about it...). Mind you, we see a pool in the photo above in Le Treport, but it's a little normal one, not an olympic one, and I'm not sure at all it's almost a century old :)


    PS : I warn you to back up this data if you need it for a web site later, alas this community has a history of deleting forums without warning :(
  • edited April 2013 Posts: 48
    RE. The location of Royale-les-Eaux in OHMSS

    I'm using Google Maps for measuring distance and a 1951 map for roads and highway identification. That map identifies roads down to "Tracks and Trails". There were not nearly as many roads back then.

    If you consider the distance for the sign post south of Montreuil as between 5 and 6 miles south of the city then I figure the sign post could have been just south of or at Wailly-Beaucamp and the intersection of N1 [now D901] and an unmarked graded all-weather road now known as D143E3.

    If Bond had not been in pursuit of Tracy, from that signpost he could have and did travel the N1 on to Montreuil which was more then 5 miles but less than 6 miles north. He could have followed the route he took toward LeTouquet and the coast in about 14 to 15 miles. He also could have taken the now D143E3 to the D143 north to LeTouquet in about the same 14 to 15 miles.

    From that sign the most direct routes back then would get you to Berck-sur-Mer and Merlimont-Plage in 7 to 8 miles but Stella-Plage would have been 10 miles. Stella-Plage may be the best fit for geographic location. It is much less certain than the description for the CR location.
  • Too bad the mods choose to mix OHMSS locations and CR locations even though they are clearly different places (despite the same name). It's going to be incredibly confusing...

    As if we could not have threads about Bernard Lee and Judi Dench because they both play M. I guess "Literary 007" is a side product of the movies now for some people :)
  • CommanderRossCommanderRoss The bottom of a pitch lake in Eastern Trinidad, place called La Brea
    Posts: 3,954
    You peeps keep up this interesting discussion though! Maybe I'll join in if I have a little more time.
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