Updated on 19 January 2021
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A popular seaside resort for locals and tourists alike, Deauville oozes style. Hosting glamorous events such as horse races and polo matches and the prestigious annual Deauville American Film Festival, Deauville also boasts two world-class golf courses, sea therapy spa, and high-end hotels, boutiques and restaurants, not to mention its magnificent beach and famous boardwalk.
A FASHIONABLE SEASIDE DESTINATION
Deauville was conceived with tourists in mind. It emerged from the sand dunes in the 1860s, thanks to the vision of one Dr Joseph Olliffe and his close friend, Emperor Napoleon III’s half-brother, the Duke de Morny. At the end of the 1850s, only marshes lay between the sea and small hillside village here.
Dr Olliffe convinced wealthy backers to invest in a major scheme to drain the marshes and create a seaside 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 built in the Anglo-Norman timber-frame style, smart bathing facilities and a stylish racecourse catered to elegant Parisians.
Further chic additions followed through time. During the Belle Epoque, just 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 built a grand new train station, as well as its iconic Art Deco bathing facilities and wooden boardwalk.
After World War II, the seaside resort’s international reputation grew. A cluster of marinas beside the Touques estuary added to its permanent attractions, while the Deauville American Film Festival, inaugurated in 1975, began drawing stars and fans of the silver screen every September.
A cultural hub
In recent years, Deauville has greatly increased the number of year-round cultural events to accompany its well-established pastimes of horseracing, polo, golf and high-end shopping. The historic Presqu’île de la Touques area beside the marinas has undergone an exciting redevelopment, while the new Franciscans museum looks set to open to the public in summer 2020. As for the glorious wide sandy beach, peppered with colourful parasols and backed by its famous boardwalk and beach huts, this remains a joy for all to enjoy.