This swish resort vaunts broad sands, a wide promenade and genteel airs. Such elements seduced the famed French novelist Marcel Proust. He enjoyed staying at the majestic Grand Hôtel, from where, still today, you can contemplate Cabourg’s multiple modern seaside pleasures.
Cabourg is a chic seaside resort, created from nothing in the middle of the 19th century and lies not far east of Caen and the D-Day landing beaches, at the mouth of the dives River. Cabourg is also romantic. Its glorious sands stretch over two and a half miles and are ideal for all manner of beach sports. A wonderful broad pedestrian promenade runs along above the beach. The resort has preserved a good many of its smart Belle Epoque villas, imparting an elegant feel, plus its period casino, but all are outdone by the palatial, central Grand Hôtel, where Proust used to holiday regularly before World War I. Cabourg provided much inspiration for the fictional seaside resort of Balbec in Proust’s masterpiece, In Search of Lost Time. Nowadays, the town hosts an annual Romantic Film Festival. In addition, the casino and art galleries are popular, as is the sea-water treatment, or thalassotherapy, centre. Horse-racing is also on the cards here, thanks to a smart racecourse.
Dives-sur-mer and connections with William the Conqueror
A bridge takes you east across the dives River to the railway station for Cabourg and the historic port of dives-sur-Mer. It was at dives that William the Conqueror waited several weeks for favourable tides to set off with his armada on his conquest of England in 1066. Visitors today linger at the yachting marina (named Port-Guillaume after William), at the charming Place de la République, with its stunning timber-frame 15th-century covered market, centrepiece of the Saturday market and at the Village Guillaume le Conquérant, with craftspeople rather than warriors waiting to greet you. As to dives’s charming Gothic church, it contains a 19th-century plaque listing nearly 500 of William the Conqueror’s companions in arms who aided him in his invasion of England. You can also spot reproductions of scenes of the Bayeux Tapestry dotted around town.