Deauville, when cinematic geniuses colour the city
In Deauville, it is almost time to, once again, break new cinematographic boundaries. From September 1st to September 10th, the renowned competition devoted to American cinema, from Hollywood blockbusters to indie productions, takes residence at the Morny theatre, the Casino Barrière theatre and the Deauville International Centre. This year, the programme consists in more than a hundred tributes, testimonies and documentaries about American cinema. In front of Cate Blanchett, George Lucas or Marlon Brando's beach huts, tourists calmly walk on the azobé wood promenade that takes them to the nearby town of Tourgéville.
On the shores of Deauville beaches, golden grains of sand find their way under your feet and the city comes alive under Eugène Boudin's impressionist brushstrokes, locals recklessly parading between Dolley parasols. In the coastline's ever changing light, you can observe a few horsemen ride their thoroughbreds bought at the local auction hall and ready to win races. Finally, strolling around short paved streets, you'll come across typical Deauville architectural creativity, from the roof ornaments and corner turrets of the Strassburger villa to the timbering façades and large checked patterns of the Normandy Hotel.
Deauville tourism office
Résidence de l'Horloge
Quai de l'Impératrice Eugénie
+33 (0)2 31 14 40 00
Trouville-sur-Mer, remembering the Belle Époque
I would like to be called Marguerite Duras de Trouville, as the writer herself said in 1963. Chosen land for many famous writers and painters, the seaside resort kindled the imagination of Proust, Flaubert and Dumas and breathed new life to Bonnard and Monet. When fishing boats come back to the small Trouville harbour, you'll smell seafood from the market piercing through the morning sunshine over the queen of beaches. Ready for a peaceful visit?
Mesmerised by the call of the sea, you walk on the wooden promenade that runs along the Normandy coast, overseenhe sumptuous town houses of various inspirations since 1867. As a testimony to the eclectic architecture found in Trouville, Montebello Museum's Second Empire style mixes with the “fortified castle” nature of the Malakoff Tower in the Rue des Roches Noires. Make a stop at the Casino Barrière, which architectural grandiosity puts it on the shortlist of the city's greatest constructs, next to Italian, Classic, Moorish and even Neo-Persian townhouses.
Trouville-sur-Mer tourism office
32, quai Fernand Moureaux
+33 (0)2 31 14 60 70
Honfleur, Norman romance and flamboyant past
In turn centre city of the Duchy of Normandy, defence bastion against British invaders, major point of departure of numerous naval epics and favoured city of many 19th century painters, Honfleur has developed a timeless feel in people's eyes. If you push towards the northernmost tip of the Côte Fleurie, you'll see that the shores of the Rouen inlet are filled with colourful narrow slate houses, carefully aligned on the Quai Sainte-Catherine. Built on the counterscarp of the city's former moats, they paint their reflection in the waters of Honfleur's Vieux Bassin, created in 1681 by French Minister Colbert. This makes for an exciting family outing.
From the Saint-Etienne church to the King's brick and stone Lieutenance building, the area is suffused with the charm of bygone days. This poetic scene was pictured by impressionist painters like Bazille, Courbet and Jongkind, as well as Pointillist ones such as Seurat and Signac. They were all very permeable to the singular and transient nature of the estuary. Put up your easel within the city walls, amid picturesque and romantic medieval streets!
Honfleur tourism office
+33 (0)2 31 89 23 30
Houlgate, discreet gem of the Côte fleurie
Nestled in the lush setting of the Beuzeval moors, Houlgate re-enacts the pictorial pattern of its lovely neighbours: luxury seaside villas coexist with eclectic structures overlooking the long Norman beaches, endlessly teased by the tide. From a simple hillock perched on the right bank of the Drochon River, the small town developed into a family seaside resort of ever varying resources. Your outing could consist in a wild horse ride on golden beaches, street festivals and concerts within the city, gourmet adventures among picturesque shops, sailing and golfing opportunities as well as trekking by the foot of the Vaches Noires cliffs. Seagulls and black-headed gulls chirp above ravines and rocky spurs in a site that is listed for its environmental ecosystem (including fauna and flora) by the Ministry. Some budding archaeologists scout the vicinity for fossils dating back to the Jurassic era, finding their way between collapsed limestone boulders in the cool waters of the Channel.
Houlgate tourism office
10, boulevard des Belges
+33 (0)2 31 24 34 79
Cabourg, looking for bygone days
In room 414 of the Grand Hôtel, the author of In Search of Lost Time (Marcel Proust) gives evidence of his affection for the city through a portrayal of its Belle Époque era. It provides the setting for the imaginary city of “Balbec” in his novel, where we encounter Albertine.
Following the example of humble Houlgate, the origins of Cabourg date back to the medieval era, when it was a mere hamlet of 100 fishermen shying away from Viking hordes. Very soon, the Scandinavian civilisation gave way to the English, whom repeated assaults led to the Hundred Years' War.
The sheer beauty of its coastline attracted tourists coming for salt water therapy baths centuries ago, and it still does. From the beach, Cabourg and its 19th century flattened dunes are in your line of sight, mostly owing to the investment of Parisian lawyer Henri Durand-Morimbau, who reached for high-end aesthetic canon in the coastal town. You can sense the unrivalled atmosphere of the mythical seaside resort, boosted by the charm of townhouses inspired by previous periods and foreign elements: finely crafted balconies, Corinthian orders and mosaic displays all pertain to the eclectic standing of the Proustian city.
Cabourg tourism office
Jardins de l'Hôtel de Ville
+33 (0)2 31 06 20 00
Ouistreham Riva-Bella, immediate embarkation into History
7:20 a.m. June 6th 1944. Hundreds of thousands allied troops treaded upon Sword Beach, freeing the strategic harbour on the next day and assaulting the Great Bunker a few days later. On the shores of the Côte de Nacre, a small French town defended the mouth of the Orne River at length, playing the part of regular scout through centuries. Welcome to Ouistreham Riva-Bella!
Born under the double influence of river and sea, the small fishing village acquired the same status as its neighbouring towns over time. From far-flung and deserted dunes to countless sumptuous villas, there is a century of summer vacations, strolls and sea bathing, horse riding and casino gaming. Head to the beach's nautical base to go kayaking, paddling or sailing, lulled by the soft sound of feathery vertebrates on the Banc des Oiseaux. Go on a cruise, leaving from the famous town harbour, and come back on dry land to pay tribute to World War II soldiers at the Pegasus Memorial of the Commando Museum #4.
Ouistreham tourism office
Esplanade Alexandre Lofi
14150 Ouistreham Riva-Bella
+33 (0)2 31 97 18 63