June 24, 2011
By: Mary Winston Nicklin
Just two hours by train outside of Paris, Deauville is a sublime seaside destination. Since its creation as a resort in the 19th century, Deauville has lured the chic and the fashionable for weekend jaunts on the beach boardwalk. After all, this is the spot where Coco Chanel first opened a boutique in 1913, and fashion designers like Yves Saint Laurent used to come to unwind. (Deauville hits the spotlight each September for the annual American Film Festival, and was the recent host of the G8 Summit, when the world's leaders gathered in Normandy for a few days of meetings in May.) For a town of just 4,000 year-round inhabitants, there's not much Deauville doesn't offer. Horse races at the Hippodrome, gambling at the casino, sun-bathing on the beach, shopping the cornucopia of couture boutiques, sailing the high seas, relaxing at the thalassotherapy spas, and teeing off on the scenic golf courses...
*The* place to stay in town is the Royal Barrière, home to Deauville's only Michelin-starred resto. Smack dab on the seafront, the five-star hotel is a favorite of Hollywood stars and Parisian society. (The walls are lined with autographed photos of A-listers.) Sister hotel, the Normandy Barrière, a masterpiece of Tudor architecture, is another splendid option. Indeed, the Lucien Barrière Hotels Group has been a central part of the Deauville scene since the early 20th century, and is a frequent sponsor of cinema, music and equestrian events.