Deauville & Trouville, villages of the sea

Déborah Pham
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The story

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At the water’s edge, ocean sprays blow in across the sand. Seagulls squawk, of course, but for better or for worse, it is Claude Lelouche’s famous song Un homme et une femme that provides the soundtrack for our stroll along the Boardwalk, past the beach huts. It was in the 1920s that this series of wooden planks was built, to prevent elegant ladies from dirtying their dresses during their promenade. Today, the Boardwalk extends along the coast and is one of the town’s symbols. One after another, they reveal the names of celebrities who have come to the Deauville American Film Festival and still play their role amongst the numerous charms of the town.

Deauville and Trouville see themselves as two, sometimes envious, sisters. However, one couldn’t exist without the other and both towns make perfect ambassadors for the Côte Fleurie. Deauville is seen as the worldly resort, where you come to see and be seen, with its luxury hotels, racecourse and promenade along the Boardwalk. In contrast, Trouville is more understated. It has remained an authentic fishing village where people come to enjoy seafood platters and watch the non-stop dance of the boats in the port. In the past, Trouville was even able to overshadow its neighbour, thanks to its reputation as a refuge for artists in search of inspiration.

It is early and the beach isn’t yet ready. One man has come to untie the parasols and set up his deckchairs and beach huts. The wind is making the multicoloured fabrics dance, finishing off this picture postcard perfect scene. In the old town, the villas line up as if for a beauty contest with their half-timbering, balconies and Vert Normandy facades. On the rooftops, a menagerie of gargoyles keeps watch and statues look on as Parisians flood into what they call “Paris’ 21st arrondissement”. These roof ornaments enliven the red bricks with cats, parrots and even chimera, irresistible details which lead us to stroll through the streets with our noses in the air.

Deauville-Trouville is all about the salty air and the contrast with the capital, just two hours away. It’s the charm of bourgeois villas, artisan cider and traditional brasseries. All this is mischievously depicted by the illustrator Savignac whose works still dot the streets of Trouville, a childhood memory for those who have always known these two Calvados towns and will never tire of them.

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When to go?

Like all seaside towns, the landscape is lovely whatever the season. In summer, you can make the most of the beach or lounge in the shade of the umbrella pines. From Autumn onwards, tourists abandon the Côte Fleurie and the surroundings are transformed, allowing the calm of winter to descend.

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How to get there?

From Deauville-Trouville station or by car (allow 2 hours from Paris). Cross the river which separates the two towns by “bac” (allow 5 mins for a crossing at high tide).

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Experiences

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Cross Deauville beach on board a sulky

Race across the mythical beaches of Deauville pulled by a galloping horse. Learn to drive your stead with advice from an enthusiast, with stunning scenery as your backdrop. Children can gain their first experience of the sport driving a pony.

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Take a trip as a Normandy seafarer

Take the helm of a sailing boat alongside a sailor from the region, to discover the coastline of the Normandy countryside and the superb buildings which border the beach. Those without the soul of a captain will enjoy the view!

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Discover the secrets of the first saffron farm in Normandy

Come and meet an extraordinary family of artisans, who introduced saffron growing to Pays de Falaise. Follow in their footsteps to discover their astonishing blossoming fields and learn how to cultivate this valuable plant. Then take your place at the table in the old mill to taste the spice in all its forms, with a menu concocted by a Normandy chef.

Our address book

L’Essentiel

Fusion cuisine

It is hard to define the cuisine at L’Essentiel, but easier to explain that it is the fruit of Charles and Mi-Ra Thuillant’s marriage. Here, locally-sourced Normandy produce meet Korean influences to create pure alchemy. Food lovers will delight in it all and discover surprising flavour combinations, such as the caramel-miso-and-kumquat éclair.

29, rue Mirabeau - 14800 Deauville

Les Vapeurs

Shellfish and crustaceans

You can’t stay in Trouville without a visit to this restaurant which is a real institution. In 1927, Les Vapeurs was just a café but it has now grown into a renowned restaurant with service to die for. Enjoy seafood, moules-frites and bistro classics in a welcoming atmosphere.

160/162, quai Fernand Moureaux - 14360 Trouville

La Villa Gabrielle

Chic Bistro

An establishment which specialises in brasserie classics with innovative combinations and beautiful presentation. La Villa Gabrielle is named after Coco Chanel, a tribute to the designer who opened her first boutique in Deauville. This bistro brings together local products, expertise and a muted ambiance. As a bonus: an unobstructed view of the gardens of the Normandy.

85, rue Eugène Colas - 14800 Deauville

Le Central

Marguerite Duras’ favourite brasserie

This establishment has retained all the charm of a 1930’s brasserie with its mirrors, vintage posters and red leather seating. The writer Marguerite Duras, who spent all her summers on the Côte Fleurie, was a regular here. Le Central serves regional classics: fish, shellfish and seafood taken to new heights in simple and generous dishes.

158, Boulevard Fernand Moureaux -14360 Trouville

Le Bar du Normandy

Timeless

There is a grand piano in a corner of the room, a selection of rare and prestigious alcohols and the feeling that this bar knows cinema’s best-kept secrets as well as the artists who have frequented it. Behind the bar is Marc Jean, a barman for over 25 years. He will be happy to advise you and tell you his most astonishing anecdotes.

38, rue Jean Mermoz - 14804 Deauville

Les 4 chats

Taking it easy

Le bar des 4 chats is a favourite meeting place for locals who delight in the festive and laid-back atmosphere of this timeless hang-out where you could cross paths with regulars or movie stars. In charge are Mumu and Serge who opened their bar and restaurant in the 90s. Enjoy the fine wines and generous tartines as an aperitif.

9, rue d’Orléans - 14360 Trouville

Parc Calouste Gulbenkian

Recharge your batteries

Located in the hills surrounding Deauville, this park, also known as the Domaine des Enclos, was created by an Armenian businessman and the landscape gardener Achille Duchêne. There is a collection of rare trees to discover and a small garden building which houses a permanent exhibition. A place to go to enjoy the tranquillity and an unbroken view of the sea and the Normandy countryside.

Chemin des enclos - 14910 Benerville-sur-mer

Villa Montebello

Local history

Since its construction in 1865, Villa Montebello has had several lives. Passed from owner to owner, it was finally repurchased by the mayor of Trouville in 1939 who decided to turn it into a cultural centre. It initially housed a library and a public garden before becoming the town museum thirty years later. A lovely place not to be missed.

64, rue Général Leclerc - 14360 Trouville

Sorbets et glaces Martine Lambert

Vanilla-Strawberry

Martine Lambert’s ice cream parlour is known throughout the region for its artisan ice-creams prepared with fresh produce and the good milk from Normandy dairies. We love their classic flavours (pistachio, caramel- home-made in their copper cauldron- or chocolate) and their more creative creations such as Quiberon (lait confit, salted caramel) or Japanese yuzu.

76, ter rue Eugène Colas - 14800 Deauville