Situated 125 miles Northwest of Paris (Normandy region), the twin towns of Deauville and Trouville-sur-Mer (adjacent neighbor) are the perfect place for a weekend getaway from Paris. Although both have beautiful beaches, these seaside resort towns also feature excellent restaurants, boutiques, and markets, offering plenty to do year-round.
Deauville is one of the most prestigious resorts in all of France and known as a posh destination where many high society Parisians have their summer houses. There was little here before Napoleon III’s half brother, the Duc de Morny, encouraged by the growing popularity of holidaying on the seaside, transformed the area into a chic resort in 1860. In no time, the streets become populated with elegant mansions. Along with its reputation as a fashionable vacation destination, Deauville is also known for its horse races, beautiful harbor and Grand Casino.
Things to see and do
The ideal place to start your day in Deauville is by strolling Deauville's famous Promenade des Planches, a mile-long boardwalk which runs along its wide Deauville beach. The section closest to town is lined with stylish Art Deco bath houses from the 1920s whose dividers bear the names of actors who’ve attended the town’s annual American Film Festival, held in Deauville every September since 1975. This is also where you’ll find a tennis club, an Olympic-sized seawater pool, over 20 shops, a multi-use sports field, and plenty of other activities.
Check out the iconic Hotel Barriere Le Normandy Deauville. In 1912, a grand plan of Deauville was inaugurated with the opening of three iconic buildings: the Hôtel Barrière Le Normandy Deauville and the Hôtel Barrière Le Royal Deauville, with the Casino de Deauville strategically placed between them. The trio of luxury buildings was designed to attract chic Parisians and British high society folks; movie stars and international tourists have visited over the years as well. The hotels are grand in a fabulous old-fashioned way. Huge entrance halls, long corridors, high ceilings, and spectacular public rooms make the perfect place to stop in for a drink and stroll around.
Explore the Museum Of Villa Montebello, located in Trouville-sur-Mer. Set in a former seaside mansion built in 1865, the fine arts museum features a tribute to artist and illustrator Raymond Savignac with a collection of his iconic posters of Trouville.
Another Deauville highlight is the impressive collection of Victorian-era villas. A great way to see them is by bike; your hotel might have some available for rent, or there are various rental companies in town. Alternatively, for an even more unique way of visiting Deauville, book a tour and visit Deauville highlights, some secret places, and the city’s renowned hippodromes. There are also tours that take you to the surrounding countryside.
Discover the Villa Strassburger, one of the more opulent mansions in Deauville. The Villa was constructed in 1907 on the site of the former home of the family of famed French writer Gustave Flaubert. The intricate facade of the home mixes several architectural styles and incorporates half-timber, ceramic tiles, brick, and stone in a checkerboard design. An abundance of geranium-planted window boxes decorate the windows. Next to the home is an apple orchard spread over two and a half acres. During WWII, a 150-foot corridor was constructed under the house to protect its occupants from bombings. Villa Strassburger is open to the public in July and August.
Given the elite audience that Deauville attracts, it’s no wonder that shopping for clothes and decor offers several high-end options. Various French names have shops situated together between the polo club and beach. Inspired by the clothes that she saw on the racecourses, golf courses, beach, and the yachts, Coco Chanel designed a range of casual, wearable clothing and opened her boutique here in 1913. With the outbreak of World War II, she closed the shop.
If you prefer antiques, visit the various shops such as The Bugatty Gallery for vintage decor and 20th-century decorations and Antiquité de la Touques for art, furniture, dolls, and other beautiful pieces. Les Caves De Deauville offers the famed apple products known to Normandy. Here you’ll find a wide variety of Calvados, an apple liqueur, plus sparkling and non-sparkling apple cider.
Events and Festivals
Deauville sponsors many high-profile events every year, including a film festival, a horse jumping competition, an antique car show, a bridge tournament, and two classical music festivals.
The Rallye Paris-Deauville is one of the top-tier car events in France, sponsored by the distinguished club de l’Auto. The race begins at the Grand Place Vendome, home of the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Paris, and finishes in Deauville with a gala dinner. The cars in this event include vintage Rolls-Royces, Mercedes, Bugattis and Alfa Romeos.
The Deauville Film festival is a star-studded and glamorous event. The festival is for American films, even though it is held in France, and is held in early September and lasts 10 days.
Hippodrome Deauville-La Touques has been held in Deauville since 1882. Most of the more popular races are held in July and August, including the Rothschild Cup, the Deauville Grand Prix, and the Prix Morny. Have lunch at La Toque, the gourmet restaurant on the top floor that has a panoramic view of the racetrack and horse stables.
To celebrate Easter and the coming of spring, the Easter Music Festival runs for 30 days and sponsors nine concerts. Festival of New Talents hosts upcoming musicians and proteges every year in August to perform at this special event. Concerts are played with music by Mozart, Schubert, Brahms, and Handel, among others.
Thanks to its previous status as a fishing town, the real local specialty is seafood, though plenty of other local delights are to be found, including the delicious cider that Normandy is so famous for!
Check out the fresh fish market located in front of the station. Fishing boats are moored, and stalls are filled with freshly caught prawns, live lobsters, shrimp, sole, mussels, and razor clams. Many of the stalls have prepared fish dishes and high tables with stools, so order a tray of shucked oysters and a glass of white wine and enjoy.
Deauville has no shortage of places to enjoy for nighttime entertainment. Also be sure to check out the neighboring Trouville, whose enjoyable drinking establishments are much less high brow.
Given the clientele that comes to Deauville, it is no surprise that the town offers a fantastic nightlife with dozens of chic and fashionable clubs and music venues. You will be able to find more relaxed places too. Many clubs open at 10 pm and do not close their doors until well past 5 am.
The famous Barrière Casino, is worth a visit even if you don’t plan on gambling. The casino is France’s 4th largest with games including slot machines, French and English roulette, blackjack, Boule, poker, and War. The casino also has a full-service brasserie with French cuisine, a snack bar, and a cocktail bar. You must provide a valid photo ID such as a passport or driver’s license upon entry.
Trouville-sur-Mer also has a casino, a bit more casual and less sophisticated than its Deauville counterpart.
Explore Fishing Village Trouville-sur-Mer, just a short walk across the Pont des Belges. The town is much older than Deauville with fishing-village roots that go back for centuries and are very much still alive today. Wander the narrow cobbled streets where you’ll discover whimsical boutiques selling unique jewelry, clothing and housewares. Check out the renowned fish market, but you may want to start by wandering Trouville’s fantastic farmer’s market. Held on Sunday mornings (Deauville’s market is on Saturday mornings) and features real farmers and artisanal producers. Explore the local Pont L’Eveque cheeses, local apples and artisanal cider.
Also visit Trouville’s own Beach Balad to discover how the town earned its nickname “the queen of beaches.” In summer, it’s dotted with colorful beach huts and year-round is lined with 19th-century villas and benches named after some of the well-known vacationers who frequented Trouville, including Monet, Flaubert, Proust, and Napoleon III. The Emperor’s summertime residence, the Villa Montebello (mentioned above), is now a museum covering the history of the town (free on Sundays, but closed during lunch).