There is a corner of Normandy, on the Cote Fleurie known as the Parisian Riviera which features the seaside towns of Deauville and Trouville. Next door to each other and similar centres of the ‘high life’, they have evolved their own cultures. Both are fun to visit and rather shiny but while Trouville has a certain ‘cockiness’, Deauville has an understated elegance.
Trouville is a busy sort of place, with lots of visitors, expensive shops and restaurants. Parking in the streets has to be paid for and traffic wardens make sure it is. There’s a rather grand Casino and a popular beach. When the tide is out, the sands are wide, soft and smooth and boardwalks make it easy to take a promenade. Private and numbered beach houses line the shoreline, identical and perfectly maintained and you’ll spot trawlers bring produce to the fish market and souvenir shops along the promenade.
Trouville was the first French seaside resort to emerge in the 19th century. To this day it attracts Parisians and the wealthy.
Just across the river, Deauville is rather more subtle. The town developed at roughly the same time as Trouville but evolved its own distinctly stylish culture. Deauville was aimed specifically at the rich and famous with a good train link for Paris..
Deauville began its life from a business partnership involving the Duc de Mornay, half-brother of Napoleon III, in the mid-19th century. Right from the beginning the town invested in grand, luxury hotels, an enormous Casino and beach-front tables with parasols tied in a unique style – they’re expensive to rent by the day. Famous art galleries and expensive shopping boutiques followed. The port with its yachting club and fabulously valuable sailing vessels epitomises the wealth of Deauville.
There are a number of prestigious local stud farms which lure the wealthiest breeders from around the world. Early in the morning you can watch the race horses exercising far out across the wide and fine sandy beach.
In the summer months there are yachting regattas and world acclaimed jazz festivals. Tennis, polo matches and golf tournaments take place and well supported vintage car rallies parade the streets.
Deauville is also famous for its world acclaimed American film festival. It was established in 1975 and takes place every September attracting the greatest and well known successful Hollywood film stars. The event is prestigious and exclusive. But you can enjoy the connection year round on the famous Deauville Board walk, where the beach huts are named after the stars.
It’s easy to visit both Trouville and Deauville in one day, they’re separated by a short distance (about 30 minutes on foot), just over 5 minutes by car.
Bob Lyons is an ex pilot turned travel writer and total Francophile.