This summer, discover the Parisian Riviera
The northern region of Normandy is one of France's most beautiful destinations, as it offers the delights of the coast alongside rugged countryside, while being just a stone's throw away from the UK. It attracts lots of visitors from all over Europe, particularly during the summer months, and it's one of my favourite places to take my family.
The coastal towns of Deauville and Trouville-sur-Mer are prime locations for holidaymakers, thanks to their interesting heritage and picturesque surroundings. Their popularity has led to them being nicknamed the Parisian Riviera, northern France's answer to the south's Côte d'Azur. We love visiting during the summer when the weather is warm and the streets come alive with vibrancy. Here are my tips for making the very most of this wonderful part of France.
Deauville has long been the seaside playground of the rich and famous due to its proximity to Paris and the various cultural events that take place all year round. It combines seaside charm reminiscent of the 1920s with modern Paris chic, making it a fantastic place to visit.
Where to stay
Whenever my family and I visit Deauville, more often than not we'll choose to stay at one of the two main hotels:
. Located just a couple of streets away from each other, with the famous Casino de Deauville in between them, both hotels are equally magnificent places to stay. Le Royal and Le Normandy are part of the luxury Barrière hotel group and have interiors that are tastefully designed in a vintage-glamour style, which is exactly what Deauville is about.
Where to eat
As with most other places in France, visitors to Deauville are spoilt for choice when it comes to food. Restaurants and cafés line the streets, offering all kinds of French cuisine, ranging from the very traditional to the ultra-modern. Deauville is a coastal town, so it would be wrong to visit without eating any seafood. There are lots of places to choose from, but I'd highly recommend
. They serve a great range of delicious seafood, as well as various other dishes and a standout wine list. Another favourite of ours is the
, an upmarket brasserie that boasts a huge dining room, individual booths and a terrace.
Sample the delicious seafood on offer at these coastal towns
What to do
A visit to the beach is at the top of any to do list for Deauville, and during the summer it's heaving with both tourists and locals, but don't fear, there's plenty of room for everyone. Take a stroll down the boardwalk, which is lined with beach cabins named after famous actors and directors, before renting a parasol and settling down for a lovely day in the sun.
Throughout the year, Deauville hosts various events, including the globally renowned
American Film Festival
in September and the
Deauville Meeting horse races
from 30th July-30th August. You can also have a flutter at the
Casino de Deauville
if you choose, or do a spot of shopping at a Parisian boutique. Whenever we visit Deauville, there's never a dull moment.
Try your luck at either one of the casinos
Just over Le Touques river from Deauville is the more relaxed town of Trouville-sur-Mer. Although still considered part of the Parisian Riviera, Trouville is a little more down to earth than Deauville, and is the perfect destination if Paris-chic isn't your thing.
Where to stay
Two of the best hotels in Trouville are
Le Beach Hôtel
Hôtel Le Fer à Cheval
, both of which are firm favourites in our household. Le Beach Hôtel is situated smack-bang in the middle of the sandy beach and Le Touques harbour, offering up fantastic views of both. Its ideal location means that when you stay at this homely hotel you can be at the beach or in the centre of town in no time at all. If you're looking for something with more of a boutique feel, I'd recommend the Hôtel Le Fer à Cheval, which is only a short walk away.
The beautiful harbour and buildings of Trouville-sur-Mer
Where to eat
Just like Deauville, when it comes to eating in Trouville you won't have trouble finding somewhere with a delicious menu. I love taking my family for a bite at
Le Petite Auberge
, a traditional French restaurant on Rue Carnot. Choose from yummy seafood and a range of meats, and a whole host of other fantastic dishes.
is another great restaurant, serving up eclectic brasserie fare in an Art Deco setting. Take a seat on the terrace and indulge in some locally caught scallops and a variety of cheeses, while looking out over the Trouville's fish market. Yum!
What to do
While Deauville has perfect rows of parasols and celebrity beach huts, Trouville's beach is much more low key. It has a long sandy stretch for sun worshippers and a 19th century boardwalk, but it's very much an 'anything goes' kind of place. Whenever we visit this beach, the kids have a go at sea kayaking while we relax on the sand. If sea kayaking isn't for you, there are also places to go scuba diving, sailing and beach tennis courts.
When you've had your fill of the beach there are plenty of things to keep you busy. Visit the
Musée Villa Montebello
art gallery and museum where you can see various exhibitions, both old and new, or try your luck at the
. Another great way to spend an afternoon or morning is to stroll through the streets and check out the shops, which are considerably less pricey than those in Deauville.
Spend a day (or two!) at the beach
If you're feeling inspired to visit the Parisian Riviera, you can get there easily with
Eurotunnel Le Shuttle
. The journey from Folkestone to Calais takes 35 minutes and from there, Deauville and Trouville-sur-Mer are just a few hours' drive away.
This summer, discover the Parisian Riviera - Image by Flickr user Dennis Jarvis
Sample the delicious seafood on offer at these coastal towns - Image by Flickr user david__jones
Try your luck at either one of the casinos - Image by Flickr user Dennis Jarvis
The beautiful harbour and buildings of Trouville-sur-Mer - Image by Flickr user Dennis Jarvis
Spend a day (or two!) at the beach - Image by Flickr user Daniel Joliver