What You Need To Know
Deauville is a commune in the Calvados département in the Normandy region in northwestern France.
With its race course, harbour, international film festival, marinas, conference centre, villas, Grand Casino and sumptuous hotels, Deauville is regarded as the “queen of the Norman beaches” and one of the most prestigious seaside resorts in all of France. As the closest seaside resort to Paris, the city and its region of the Côte Fleurie (Flowery Coast) has long been home to French high society’s seaside houses and is often referred to as the Parisian riviera. Since the 19th century, the town of Deauville has been a fashionable holiday resort for the international upper class. Deauville is also a desirable family resort for the wealthy. In France, it is known perhaps above all for its role in Proust’s In Search of Lost Time.
Population: 4,364 (1999)
Area: 3.57 km2 (1.38 sq mi)
The history of Deauville can be traced back to 1060, when seigneur Hubert du Mont-Canisy dominated the magnificent land which was previously known as Auevilla. In 1066, Hubert du Mont-Canisy left to follow William the Conqueror to England.
Until 1860, Deauville went from the reign of one mayor to another and slowly became famous as horse territory and for cultivating sainfoin. Duc Charles Auguste Louis Joseph de Morny, half brother of the emperor Napoleon III, on requests of his wife Sofia Sergeyevna Trubetskaya and her friend-art collector Konstantin Rudanovsky transformed Deauville into a more travelled resort. Before the death of the Duc in 1865, certain key investments were made that would transform Deauville’s history. Such investments included a railway from Paris to Deauville, the Deauville hippodrome for horse races, and a small casino. Within three years, over forty villas were constructed in the surrounding area, and 200 rooms, as well as other accommodations, were finalized in the Grand Hotel. Also, to the Duc de Morny’s credit, was the construction of a church and a school in 1863. In the same year, “La Terrasse” was brilliantly created. This was essentially a complex for hydrotherapeutic baths and other cures, as well as a 1,800-metre promenade along the seaside.
Following the Duc’s death, Deauville grew gradually, but it was not until the early 20th century when Désiré le Hoc, with Eugene Cornuché, pushed Deauville into another important period of transformation and development. The still-famous Normandy Barrière and Royal hotels and the casino opened in the years 1911 and 1913. Renovations were carried out and extensions were made to the hippodrome, telephone lines were set up, the sales of yearlings saw historic highs, and up to 62 English and French yachts occupied the basin. During these successful years many luxury boutiques opened in the streets of Deauville (Coco Chanel’s first shop), as many stores from Paris decided it was worthwhile establishing themselves in the up-and-coming Norman resort.
During World War I, wounded soldiers would be cared for in Deauville’s famous hotels and casino. Unfortunately, the war also took a heavy toll on Deauville’s blossoming market and trade sector as merchants were forced to give many of their products to the war effort.
- In 1923, the Promenade des Planches was created and finalized. This refers to the famous wooded boardwalk that parallels the seaside.
- In 1926, Eugene Corniché died. His position as director of Deauville’s grand establishments was filled by Francois André.
- In 1929, the construction of l”Hotel du Golf was paired with major renovations and expansions to the golf course itself. This was a decision coming directly from Francois André. The hotel and golf course are situated on the outskirts of the town.
- In 1931, only seven kilometres from the centre of town, Deauville – Saint-Gatien Airport was inaugurated. This was a pivotal event in the Deauville’s history, specifically in terms of tourism, as now London was only a 2-hour trip from Deauville.
The combination of the national financial crisis and World War II completely removed the paradisiacal aura of Deauville that would not resurface until the 1950s. During the Second World War, the German Army occupied Deauville. Villas, hotels, and the casino were all occupied or used to some extent by the German forces. Thanks to the D-Day invasion, allied forces were able to push the German troops out of Deauville and Normandy.
Following the war, and perhaps exemplified in the 1960s and beyond, Deauville understood what it represented and decided to act in accordance, playing the cards it had at its disposal: myth and exclusivity. Michel d’Ornano was established as the new mayor and Lucien Barriere succeeded his uncle Francois André at the head of the Hotels and Casinos of Deauville. Deauville became again a centre for high society and celebrities from almost every field. With scenes of award-winning movies being filmed in Deauville (such as Claude Lelouch’s “un Homme et une Femme”) and endless celebrity traffic, the town has renewed its status as an emblematic resort town of Europe.
The first reference to Deauville was in 1060. At this time the village was called A Enilla and looked more like a fishing hamlet than a village. A Enilla comes from the Germanic Auwja Auwa meaning wet meadow. The village was originally up on the hill and a few houses were built next to the St Laurent chapel. Thanks to its situation near the coast, the village had a small harbour of little importance on the river Touques.
Duc de Morny
Deauville owes its greater prominence to the Duc de Morny. He described the village as: Cité calme, aux rue désertes, elle forme avec Trouville, animée et bruyante, un contraste absolu. Mais ce manque de vie n’est, en réalité, qu’apparent, car de magnifiques propriétés, de même que les délicieux jardins qui les entourent, sont entretnus avec un soin on ne peut plus raffiné. Translation: “A quiet town, with deserted streets, it forms a complete contrast with the busy and noisy Trouville. But this lack of life is, in reality, only apparent, because the magnificent properties, and their delicious gardens, are maintained with a care that could not be more refined.”