An internationally renowned resort, Deauville oozes style. Glamorous events abound, from prestigious horse races and polo to the annual Deauville American Film Festival. Golf and thalassotherapy sea-water pamperings are easily to hand. Enjoy the elegant hotels, boutiques and restaurants, not forgetting Deauville’s greatest pull, its magnificent beach.
Deauville was conceived for fashionable pleasures. It emerged from the dunes in the 1860s, thanks to the vision of one Dr Joseph Olliffe and his close friend, Emperor Napoleon III’s half-brother, the Duc de Morny. At the end of the 1850s, marshes lay between the sea here and a little slope-side village above.
Dr Olliffe convinced wealthy backers to invest in a major scheme to drain the marshes and create a resort from nothing. The resort was designed by architect Desle-François Breney, inspired by Baron Haussmann’s redevelopment of Paris. Aided by an all-important, brand-new railway line, the resort came into full bloom within just four years. Grand hotels in the Anglo-Norman timber-frame style, smart bathing facilities and a stylish racecourse catered to elegant Parisians.
Further chic additions followed through time. In the Belle Epoque before the outbreak of World War I, more sumptuous hotels went up, along with a major casino. During the Great War, Deauville’s big hotels were turned into hospitals for wounded Allied soldiers. Between the wars, Deauville developed a grand new station, iconic galleried bathing facilities and its wooden beach boardwalk.
After World War II, the resort’s international reputation grew. A cluster of marinas beside the Touques estuary added to the permanent attractions, while the American Film Festival, inaugurated in 1975, began drawing stars and fans of the silver screen each September.
All told, in recent years, Deauville has greatly increased the cultural events on offer year-round, to accompany its well-established pleasures of horseracing, polo, golf, art galleries and upmarket shopping. The historic Presqu’île de la Touques area beside the marinas is undergoing an exciting renovation. As to the glorious, wide, sandy beach, peppered with colourful parasols in summer and backed by a long boardwalk and the changing booths, it remains a joy for all to enjoy.
- Centre International de Deauville (C.I.D) Inaugurated in 1992, this state-of-the-art centre hosts major events and conferences. Its architecture is quite a technological feat, buried several yards underground to protect the landscape.
- Elie de Brignac auction rooms Although the covered amphitheatre here is now also used as a theatre, this remains the last horse auction establishment in Deauville and a truly surprising place.
- "La Breloque", the house of Normandy artist Eugène Boudin: The Honfleur-born pioneer of Impressionism made Normandy's skies famous. He particularly liked the light of the Deauville coast, and chose to spend his later years in this mansion overlooking the sea.
- The Villa Strassburger This remarkable house, listed as a historic monument in 1975, was built in 1907 by Baron Henri de Rothschild and purchased by the American millionaire Ralph-Beaver Strassburger in 1924. It reflects the archetypal manor of the Pays d’Auge, its ground floor built with a mix of chequered-patterned bricks and dressed stone, its upper floor half-timbered.
- The Casino This Belle Epoque casino, ranked among the leading establishments of its kind in Europe, stands on the site of the first casino, opened in 1864. Its lights have been illuminating the sea front since 1912, and are a majestic reminder of the splendour of that period’s festivities.
- Etablissement des Bains de Mer (Sea bathing establishment) Built beside the central beach in 1923, this establishment comprises an elegant complex of galleries and atriums, plus fountains decorated with mosaics. Here, you can hire one of Deauville’s legendary parasols or relax on deckchairs and in beach huts.
- Hippodrome Deauville-la-Touques The older of Deauville’s two celebrated racecourses, the central Hippodrome Deauville-la-Touques was built in 1864 with the support of the Duke de Morny, a great racing enthusiast. The racecourse has been modernised in recent times and stages prestigious races both in winter and summer. Three polo fields in the middle of the course regularly receive the best teams in the world.
- Hippodrome Deauville-Clairefontaine The second grand racecourse in town, the Hippodrome de Deauville-Clairefontaine, west of the centre, was inaugurated in 1928 and puts on flat-racing, steeplechases and trotting races.
- Pôle International du Cheval At the centre of this new, state-of-the-art equestrian centre dedicated to the equestrian arts at the highest level is a covered arena where international competitions are held.
- Deauville golf courses A handful of fine golf courses lie south of the resort.