In its prewar heyday, Normandy’s northern coast was the go-to spot for fashionable Parisians looking for a weekend getaway. A two-hour train ride from Paris, Deauville and neighbouring Trouville-sur-Mer — the relative grande dames of the region with their Belle Epoque–style villas, stately hotels, and stylish casinos — were and still remain – the closest places to escape Paris’s stifling summer heat.
Separated by nothing more than the River Touques, they each possess a casino, a beachfront boardwalk and a string of flamboyant Belle Époque villas, yet they look and feel quite different.
Deauville is gaily flashy and extravagant and considered the “Riviera” of the north, whereas Trouville-sur-Mer, once a small fishing village, is more reserved. Designed as luxury getaways for well-heeled Parisians at the turn of the last century, Deauville and neighbouring Trouville-sur-Mer’s are the perfect places to soak in some seaside merriment. In additional to its beaches, Deauville is perhaps best known today for hosting the American Film Festival each year and its acclaimed horse racing culture.
While it doesn’t possess the same glitz of its Côte d’Azur neighbour to the south, it’s this sense of nostalgia, deeply rooted history, and idyllic landscapes that add a certain je ne sais quoi to the little pocket of life found in France’s northwest corner.
For the best Michelin-star restaurants in the region, look no further than the following recommendations:
Augusto Chez Laurent
Known for its lobster and fish specialties, this institution is the oldest restaurant in Deauville and has been at the forefront of French cuisine for more than 35 years. It’s a serene and faithful classic that has gently evolved with the French era. Dishes of mackerel steak, red mullet fennel brandade, osso buco veal and tagliatelle, plus a lobster menu and Kaspia caviar and desserts such as pistachio chocolate puffs to name a few are reverred. The chic boat décor is too cool for school.
This establishment is a tribute to French seaside resorts and devoted to the philosophy of plants and rare spices. Harmony and contrast define the cuisine from near and far, which happily oscillates between Japan and the Mediterranean. A must-try dish is Le Pigeonneau de la Suisse Normande, roasted on a box and smoked in Indian wood, placed on a straw apple nest with monk peppers. The chef at this duplex dining room with lovely sea views is David Drans, aged 34, who moved to Normandy from Paris, to take over the restaurant. His contemporary French cuisine is based on the best seasonal Norman produce, including the province’s superb catch-of-the-day.
Chef Maximin Hellio, formerly of the star restaurant Sables d’Or les Pins in Brittany, heads up Maximin Hellio. Here, seafood takes pride of place on the seasonal menu full of creative twists, such as cod and artichoke or “my Dad’s blue lobster”. Fine wine list. Located in Deauville, in the heart of the city center and 300 meters from the beach, it is an idyllic setting for marine cuisine. If you favour High-quality products and an obvious finesse of execution this worthy of a reservation.