As soon as summer comes along, Parisians start flocking to Deauville in their thousands. It’s the closest seaside resort to the City of Light with regular transport links and thanks to its gorgeous sandy beaches peppered with vibrant parasols, it’s viewed as the perfect escape.
Deauville is the perfect day trip from Paris mainly thanks to the frequent transport service available, departing conveniently from Saint-Lazare train station. It’s just a two-hour journey each way from Paris-Saint-Lazare to Trouville-Deauville station, which is more than doable in a single day.
Should you prefer to drive from Paris, take highway A13 – it works out to the same journey time as the train. Driving can be useful if you want to bring along items for the beach like chairs, picnic baskets, balls, lilos and the like. But the train is usually easier and ensures you won’t get stuck in traffic when crossing back into Paris.
Deauville’s location is so popular because it’s the closest seaside resort to Paris. It’s a haven of calm compared to the chaos of the capital, nonetheless, with a gastronomic reputation that rivals the City of Light – and which specialises in seafood.
There are a total of 40 restaurants of every shape and size in Deauville, mostly offering traditional Norman food with terroir dishes à la creme, as well as local seafood typical to the region. The coast is, of course, the ultimate highlight, located only 45 minutes from Normandy’s historic landing beaches of the Second World War.
Deauville is well-equipped to welcome tourists, with its ice cream stalls and colourful sun umbrellas that make for iconic photographs. But its popularity also means it easily gets crowded during peak season, so it’s usually best if you arrive early on.
Of course, the best time to visit Deauville is between June and August, when you can soak up the sunny outdoors from the comfort of your very own deckchair. Nonetheless, Deauville is one of those rare seaside resorts that can actually be enjoyed all year round.
The season for slurping ice cream might well have reached its end by October, but Deauville isn’t just a beach resort – there are still lots of sights left to explore. It’s actually an important destination in the cinema industry, with the American Film Festival enticing movie-enthusiasts each September and the Asian Film Festival each March.
What’s great about visiting off season is that queues will be shorter at museums and at other attractions (especially at the casino, for example, which is France’s fourth largest), letting you escape the chaos of the summer crowds.
Whichever season you choose to visit Deauville, you’ll be left awe-struck by the half-timbered Norman houses that can be found across the region. The five-star Hôtel Normandy is the ultimate place to spend the night, boasting over 250 rooms that each enjoy an array of quaint antique furniture and traditional fabrics.
That said, the weather can be unforgiving in winter and rainy in early spring, so make sure to check the weather, bring an umbrella and dress appropriately if you’re visiting out of season.
One of the most unique ways in which Deauville distinguishes itself from being just another beach resort is its passion for horses. There are two racecourses here hosting a range of prestigious international races as well as a training centre for 300 horses open all year round, world-renowned yearling sales and a national steeplechase competition.
Horse lovers especially flock to the area during the international polo championship. But there’s also an International Equestrian Complex, a 9 ha park dedicated to horse and equestrian activities. This fully-covered complex welcomes people for training, seminars, shows and competitions right through the year.