In Nausea, the city is called “Bouville”, but there are elements suggesting Le Havre, where Jean-Paul Sartre was staying when he wrote his novel.

The description of the long walk on the “promenade pier” is reminiscent of the maritime boulevard; “Tournebride Street” sounds a lot like Paris Street. The hills, from where the narrator has a beautiful view over Le Havre, are also described (“Boulibet Street”). The high school, which included a library at the time, is also mentioned. The train station appears several times, since it is the location of the hotel (“Printania hotel”) Roquentin stays at, and where Sartre stayed himself. One can recognise the Cours de la République in the description of the “rue des mutilés” and the Strasbourg Boulevard in the description of the Boulevard de la Redoute. Roquentin visits the city’s old museum. The “Ducoton Square” reminds us both of the place de la Bourse and place du Vieux-Marché.

By superimposing the topography of Bouville and what we know of Le Havre in the 1930s, we could almost recreate a map of “Bouville”, halfway between the layout of Le Havre and the author’s imagination.

At the time, Simone de Beauvoir was teaching in Rouen, and she wrote her memories from those years in The Prime of life (1960). We thus discover that Beauvoir and Sartre liked to meet in Le Havre. Beauvoir also mentions the cafés where Sartre liked to write. Letters written on headed notepaper from these cafés were found, including the Guillaume Tell café.