Friday, May 20, 2022

Côte Fleurie: Deauville, France - Glamour, Horse Races, Fashion & Film

By Jacquelin Carnegie
Deauville Beach (photo: Béatrice Augier/inDeauville)

Deauville is a beautiful, ritzy, seaside resort on Normandy’s “Côte Fleurie” (Flowery Coast). It’s been an upscale, holiday destination since the 1860s, when Dr. Joseph Olliffe, a physician to the French & British upper class, along with his pal, the Duke of Morny (Napoleon III’s half-brother), basically put Deauville “on the map” with the help of their rich, investor-friends. 
Life’s A Beach: It’s amazing what vision paired with money and influence can produce. In a few short years a railway line from Paris was laid. Grand hotels were built. Swank beach-bathing facilities were installed and posh horse races began. In 1911, a grand casino was built. In 1923, the Promenade des Planches, the now-famous, wooded
(photo: Delphine Barré Lerouxel/inDeauville)
boardwalk paralleling the seaside, was created. Deauville became one of the most prestigious seaside resorts in France, and has remained fashionable to this day.
But, while posh Parisians still come for the sporting life and chic boutiques, the horse races cost only a few Euros, the American Film Festival is open to the public, and the beautiful, wide, sandy beach is accessible to everyone.

Hippodrome de Deauville-La Touques (Racetrack)
45 Ave Hocquart de Turtot
Hippodrome (photo: Scoopdyga/inDeauville)

Since it opened in 1864, the Hippodrome has attracted the top international trainers and jockeys, and an elite clientele to watch the crème-de-la-crème of racehorses run. But any horse-racing enthusiast can enjoy some 40+ regular races throughout the year as the tickets are only a few Euros. (It’s even possible to place a bet, if you know how to pick’em.) There’s also a second track Deauville-Clairefontaine (Route de Clairefontaine) and a renowned training center. If you prefer polo matches, some of the world’s best teams play here in August as the Deauville International Polo Club, founded in 1907, is one of the oldest in France. Before the renowned Deauville-La Touques racetrack was built--thanks to the Duke of Morny--horse racing took place on the beach. The horses are still brought here at dawn & dusk for workouts as the sea water is good for their legs.

The town is chock-a-block with high-end, luxury stores such as Hermès, Louis Vuitton, and Ralph Lauren. This is fitting as Coco Chanel opened her first clothing boutique here in 1913. Brought to Deauville by Boy 
Capel, her English, polo-player
beau, Chanel admired the fishermen’s mariniere (striped shirts) and the polo players’ knit-jersey sweaters. To stay warm and comfy, she borrowed clothing from Capel--a striped shirt, a knit sweater, a pair of pants--causing a sensation. But, she was sure that other women visiting the resort area would want comfortable clothing, too. Chanel then designed a line of prêt-à-porter, loose-fitting, knit garments; basically, launching a new clothing category: “chic sportswear.” The rest is fashion history and it all started here.

Les Franciscaines
145 B Ave De La République;
Les Franciscaines (photo: Moatti-Riviere)

It’s worth coming to France just to experience Deauville’s newest cultural center--Les Franciscaines. Housed in a magnificent building that once was a Franciscan convent, the beautifully-restored facility is now a unique combo of: museum, library, médiathèque, snack bar, cinema, lecture hall. In short, the absolute, coolest place you’ve ever hung out. The architectural makeover is stunning, the décor is sublime—each area is color-coordinated and theme-related. Oh, yeah, there’s an art collection of over 500 paintings. And, temporary exhibits, and photos. Also, workshops for kids & adults. Or, you can just sit there and read a magazine. Either way, you won’t want to leave.

Deauville American Film Festival (Sept)
Johnny Depp/Catherine Deneuve
(photo: Deauville American Film Festival)

This prestigious festival began in 1975 to promote American cinema and attract American and European screen stars to the area. 24/7 Screenings: Over the ten days, film screenings are held 24 hours a day. There are several categories such as: “Premieres” - screenings followed by Q&As with the creators; “Competition” - presenting indie films; “Uncle Sam’s Docs” - documentaries about American life; & “Window on French Cinema.” (Get a Day or Festival Pass to see great cinema and lots of celebrities!)

In 1912, to continue attracting chic Parisians and British high society, Deauville opened two Grand hotels in the Normandy, timber-frame style: Hôtel Barrière-Le Normandy Deauville (38 Rue Jean Mermoz) and Hôtel Barrière-Le Royal Deauville (Blvd Cornuché BP). These lovely, luxury hotels continue to welcome an international, elite crowd along with movie stars and other celebrities. It’s worth
Le Normandy (photo: Group Barrière)
the splurge to stay at one of them but, if not in the budget, just come by to enjoy a delicious, afternoon tea or evening cocktail; sit in the lounges and gawk.
Right between the two hotels is the Casino Barrière de Deauville (2 rue Edmond Blanc). You can tempt “lady luck”, but you don’t have to be a gambler to spend an evening here. There’s an elegant, little theatre--a replica of the Petit Trianon at Versailles--where classic & contemporary dance, concerts, musicals, and even one-man shows are performed.

Other Sports Activities:
For duffers, there are world-class, golf courses such as the Golf Barrière Deauville & the Amirauté Golf. For swimmers or just anyone who enjoys a soak without having to go into the ocean, there’s the Piscine Olympique de Deauville (Blvd de la Mer). Two pools filled with heated, purified sea water. Like spending a day at a spa at a fraction of the cost. There’s also great sailing.
Porte Bassin Morny (photo: Naiade Plante/inDeauville)

Where To Stay: In addition to the aforementioned Grand hotels, there’s a range of accommodations to select from in Deauville and the surrounding area.
Getting There: Take the fast train (TGV) from Paris to the Trouville-Deauville train station (2hrs). Or, drive. From Paris to Deauville, it’s around 120 miles/194 km (2hrs) on Autoroute A13 (with tolls) or meander on back roads discovering other lovely areas of the Normandy region along the way.
Nearby Jaunts:
The “Côte Fleurie” is a succession of lovely towns on long, sandy beaches along the coastline of the Calvados area in the Normandy region. Visit all the towns such as Trouville, Honfleur & Cabourg.

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