France > Normandy > Calvados > Deauville
Deauville Town Guide
Deauville : pleasures for every season
Located in the heart of Normandy, between the sea and the countryside, Deauville - a small town with a population of only 4,500, but of international repute - is one of those rare seaside resorts that can be enjoyed all year round. Through the years the town has managed to develop harmoniously, preserving its historic, architectural and cultural heritage, while at the same time keeping step with an ever-changing tourist sector. Indeed, only two hours from Paris, this rendez-vous of elegance and art de vivre promises visitors a complete change of scenery, with its many turn-of-the-century villas, traditional half-timbered houses, colourful sun umbrellas on the beach and famous Promenade. Deauville also offers a wide range of hotel services, luxury shopping and numerous leisure facilities (thalassotherapy, golf, sailing, horse-riding, etc.), as well as many entertaining, cultural and athletic events throughout the year.
In Deauville, the horse is king. Deauville and riding are like Deauville and the sea: inseparable. With its two racecourses and training centre, soon to be joined by an equestrian complex, the town is tightly bound to horses and equestrian events and activities, such as racing, jumping, horse auctions, polo, international meetings, traditional carriages and unforgettable rides on the beach. In addition, the town hosts a dozen other diverse events throughout the year. From cinema, with its Asian and American Film Festivals to music, with its Easter Festival, Musical August and Swing’In Deauville, not to mention its Books & Music Fair, Deauville International Week (sailing), World Bridge Festival, Paris-Deauville Collector’s Car Rally, Top Résa (international tourism trade show) and Christmas on the Balcony (street-art festival), Deauville warmly welcomes all the world !
Deauville is active all year round thanks to a harmonious balance between its leisure and business tourism. Its convention centre, the Deauville International Centre, is the current reference in this especially competitive sector. It allows for the organisation of international conferences and events, as well as more intimate business meetings. Deauville is the perfect meeting place, in the spring, summer, autumn or winter, with pleasures for every season.
Tourism in Deauville
Deauville was once a small agricultural village located on Mont Canisy, a hill overlooking the sea. Grouped around the Saint-Laurent church, the hundred or so residents of "Dosville" were, for the most part, farmers and animal breeders. The marshland and dunes below the village on which Deauville would later be built, were used as grazing for the cattle and sheep. It was during the summer of 1858 that the Duke de Morny, a worldly financier and half-brother to Napoleon III, invited to Trouville by his physician, Dr. Olliffe, had the idea of constructing on this expanse of sand and swamp “an elegant kingdom” near Paris: the Deauville seaside resort. In partnership with Dr. Olliffe, a banker by the name of Donon, and an architect, Mr. Breney, in four years Morny created a town whose magnificent Neo-Norman villas, racecourse and rail link to the capital soon attracted an aristocratic clientele from Paris and abroad. 1911 was a key year in Deauville’s development, with the construction of its casino and luxury hotels. Now no one, especially not the Parisian smart set of the Roaring Twenties, could resist Deauville’s charm and, as of 1923, elegant holiday-goers walked up and down Deauville’s 643-metre promenade of azobé wood that borders the town’s vast beach of fine sand. From Josephine Baker, Mistinguett, Maurice Chevalier, Sacha Guitry, Tristan Bernard, Gustave Flaubert, Colette, André Citroën and Coco Chanel to Fujita, Van Dongen, Eugène Boudin, Raoul Dufy, Camille Saint-Saens and Arthur Rubinstein, the era’s greatest names in business, the arts and royalty were regular visitors to Deauville.
In 1960, Deauville found its second wind, spurred on by Michel d'Ornano, the mayor, and Lucien Barrière, at the helm of the casino and luxury hotels, who decided to make Deauville an international destination. The town dropped its status as a frivolous resort for
that of an elegant but modern and fully-equipped destination, turning towards new technology and business tourism. Throughout its history straddling three centuries, Deauville has managed to change with the times, while successfully preserving its cultural and architectural heritage. Thanks to its visiting tourists and conference-goers, the town is now full of life all-year-round, enjoying a full calendar of fun, cultural and athletic events.
Attractions of Deauville
90% of the Deauville economy is linked to tourism. The health and seaside resort’s residents, the Deauvillais, number only a little more than 4,500, spread out over 357 hectares. Principally a short-stay destination, the population grows tenfold during the weekends and school holidays, with long weekends attracting the most visitors. Deauville now attracts visitors all-year-round, thanks to its hotel and leisure facilities:
- 2,000 rooms within a radius of 2 km, from residential to 4-star luxury hotels, from old villas converted into small, charming hotels to chain hotels.
- 40 restaurants of every shape and size: traditional Norman fare with terroir dishes à la creme, fresh seafood, Norman cheeses, and apple desserts, not to mention Cider, Pommeau and Calvados (AOC Pays d’Auge)!
- 2 ports, for a total of 1,250 berths, making Deauville one of Normandy’s largest marinas.
- 1 airport with 2,550 metres of runway, allowing it to welcome almost all planes for both regular and charter flights.
- 1 convention centre, the Deauville International Centre (CID), competitive at the European level and boasting an auditorium with 1,500 seats and all the latest high-tech equipment.
- 1 casino, France’s fourth largest, with 320 fruit machines and the entire gamut of table games.
- 2 racecourses provide Deauville with flat, trotting and steeple chasing all year round.
- 1 thalassotherapy-spa centre.
- 4 golf courses within 10 km.
- numerous shops, including the main luxury brands (Hermès, Vuitton, etc.).
- numerous leisure facilities: a riding school, an aquatic centre, tennis courts, a sailing school, clubs for children and adolescents, parks, a racing circuit, and more, all nearby.
- 1 fine-sand beach boarded by Deauville’s famous Promenade and dotted with multicoloured sun umbrellas and deckchairs.
- A protected historical and cultural heritage: numerous villas from the early 20th century.
- many cultural and sporting events throughout the year.
Deauville is located in the very heart of Normandy, equidistant from the three regional capitals of Caen, Rouen and Le Havre by the Bridge of Normandy. Only 45 minutes from the Normandy landing beaches and Giverny, Deauville is also perfectly located for tourists visiting Normandy and its Pays d'Auge area, with its distilleries, stud farms, cheese shops, manor houses, museums, and more.
Deauville, born of the sand and the sea, has always loved the sound of waves, the cries of seagulls, and the view of sails filled by the wind.
Visitors also come to Deauville to enjoy the sea and the diverse leisure activities of its ports, beach and seafront. There's something for everyone, young and old alike, to relax or experience the joys of the sea differently: from windsurfing to piloting a catamaran, or simply stretched out on a deckchair and contemplating the long stretch of salty water. With the largest marina in the Calvados department and the second largest of the Basse-Normandie region after Cherbourg, Deauville’s two ports - one municipal and one private - can welcome up to 1,250 boats, with 230 berths reserved for visitors. But Deauville is not only a tourist destination for yachtsmen: it’s also an indispensable stop on many regional, national and international sailing competition circuits, and the Deauville Yacht Club, the town’s sailing school, organises dozens of regattas. In 2006, Deauville launched a major international sailing event, The Deauville International Week, which quickly became a not-to-be-missed event for all the Melges 24, Mumm 30, J105 and J109 teams. In 2007, the town revived its traditional role as a major centre of French dragon-boating by welcoming the Deauville Classic Week, the International French Open of Dragon Boating. As for the beach, the town has stopped at nothing to make the tourists' stay as enjoyable as possible. With its 600 multi-coloured sun umbrellas, deckchairs, beach huts named after Hollywood stars, internationally famous, must-see, 643-metre Promenade of azobé wood, and leisure and sporting facilities, Deauville’s beach stretches for some 1,400 metres and is the perfect place for tourists to pursue a wide range of seaside activities or simply relax. With its installation for seawater baths, interior swimming pools, fine-sand beach, Olympic swimming pool (covered and filled with seawater heated to 27°C), thalassotherapy-spa centre, tennis courts, miniature golf course, clubs for children and adolescents, aquatic centre, skate park and seafront fitness trails, Deauville has something for everyone! If Deauville has become a 'must see' seaside resort of world renown, this is surely largely thanks to the sea.
In addition to its world-famous and internationally-influential Asian and American cinema festivals, Deauville never ceases to enlarge its cultural landscape. From classical music (Easter Festival and Musical August) to jazz (Swing'In Deauville) to a thematic book fair (Deauville’s Books & Music), as well as an ever greater number of shows of every size and colour on the town’s cultural calendar, to which must also be added the programmes of the Deauville International Centre and the Barrière Casino, everyone is sure to find a play, concert, dance or comedic performance to his or her liking. Indeed, the world of cinema enjoys a privileged position at Deauville, what with the American Cinema Festival, which this year celebrates its 35th anniversary, and the Asian Film Festival, which for the past nice years has unveiled cinematographic wonders hitherto unknown in France. Together, they promote Deauville on the world stage, welcoming the biggest stars of the silver screen. However, music lovers are not left wanting, with Deauville’s Easter Festival demonstrating the town’s obsession for quality. Only ten years old, this festival, the only one of its kind in France, is already among the nation’s most important cultural events. For an entire week, today’s best young soloists assemble in Deauville to produce and explore together, for our great enjoyment, every combination of chamber music. A few of these talented young artists, experienced in Baroque and classical music, have created the Circle of Harmony, which has become the permanent ensemble of their dreams.
Created in 2002, Musical August, the Easter Festival’s summertime counterpart, straightaway attracted a curious, enthusiastic public for works explored by today’s most promising young European soloists. From Baroque to modern music, enjoying complete freedom with regard to its musical programme, this veritable "musical campus” has thrived under the seasoned direction of the more senior founders of the Easter Festival.
Literature exploded onto the town’s cultural stage in 2004, with the creation of the Books & Music book fair, during which Deauville celebrates words and notes. Singing, jazz, rock, classical, world music… an eclectic mix of styles, just like the books that interpret and approach the music from every angle imaginable: novels, biographies, interviews, dictionaries, essays, illustrated albums, children's books, audio books, comic books, books by illustrators and photographers... all organised around meetings, debates, activities, a children’s workshop and library, a literary café, general and regional booksellers, a publishers’ area, etc.
Events in Deauville
For many years, Deauville has played host to one event after another. Indeed, the resort is a particularly well-suited setting for their organization. Here are the main events scheduled for 2011:
January Horse racing
March Asian Film Festival
April Easter Festival (classical music)
May The Deauville book fair Books & Music
June Deauville International Week: an international week of sailing
July Horse racing
Deauville Classic Week: the French Open of Dragon-Boating
World Bridge Festival
Swing'In Deauville (jazz festival)
August Horse racing
Lucien Barrière Deauville Polo Cup
Musical August (classical music)
September American Film Festival
R.I.D.E.: International meetings in the riding world
Top Résa (international tourism trade show)
October Paris-Deauville Rally for classic cars
Women’s Forum (the “Davos for women”)
Equi'Days: horse racing, auctions, and more.
International traditional-carriage competition
From October to June Cultural season (one or two cultural events each month)
November Horse racing
December Horse racing
Christmas on the Balcony (street art)
Deauville Tourist Office
Deauville Tourist Office
Place de la Mairie
14804 Deauville Cedex
Tel. : (33) (0)2 31 14 40 00
Fax : (33) (0)2 31 88 78 88
Copyright photographs : OT Deauville - O.Houdart
Copyright text : OT Deauville