Poker Traveller: Deauville 1-2-3

Poker Traveller: Deauville 1-2-3

Saturday, 2 March 2013

As the EPT descends on Deauville this month, Poker Traveller takes a closer look at this quirky and very beautiful Normandy seaside town.

In summer, Deauville is known for film festivals, horseracing, yachting regattas and glamorous dirty weekenders strolling down the wooden promenade that spans the beach. Two hours from Paris, the town is known as the Parisian Riviera, hence the preponderance of elegant bathing Parisians, a scene which has long fascinated painters who have tried to capture the quality of light reflecting off the sea and glorious white sand.

In February, however, when the EPT comes to town, it’s like all seaside towns off-season – a bit weird – but hey, at least you’re not in Clacton-on-Sea. And, with its casino, horserace meets, sumptuous hotels, belle époque villas, Norman half-timbered buildings and fine restaurants – not to mention the near 40 tournaments that comprise the EPT – there’s plenty to keep you happy.

Unlike Clacton-on-Sea, Deauville has always been a magnet for high society. The Royal Barrière Hotel, whose striking façade still dominates the beach, was built in 1912 at the height of La Belle Époque (the golden period before the First World War when apparently everything was beautiful and awesome and everybody was fucked on absinthe) in order to accommodate the European aristos and wealthy Americans who flocked to the town. It’s all golden columns, high ceilings and palm tree chandeliers and, as you can imagine, very expensive.

Also on the pricey side is the Normandy Barrière Hotel. All timbers, gables and flamboyant turrets, it was built in the style of an English country house. This palatial hotel is home to 290 rooms, including 30 luxury suites, plus tennis courts, swimming pools and some great bars and restaurants

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If you’re after something a bit cheaper, we can recommend Les Sablettes. It’s a small, welcoming family-run establishment in a great location with rooms at just €50 a night.

Forget fish and chips on the pier, it’s strictly moules frites in this town. Ciro's is a brassiere on the Promenade des Planches with fantastic views of the beach. It’s considered Deauville’s best seafood restaurant, with an exceptional collection of Bordeaux, and the plateau de fruits de mer is its pièce de résistance.

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1899 is the restaurant at Les Manoirs de Tourgéville hotel, not far from the Deauville-Clairefontaine Racecourse. It offers classic Norman cuisine with a modern twist and panoramic views of the countryside. Its speciality is the terrine Normande, a sweet omelette with apples, which we reckon is a lot nicer than it sounds.

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The Casino de Deauville, right next to the Normandy Barrière Hotel, has just celebrated its 100 birthday. With two bars, four restaurants, a theatre for shows (Jermaine Jackson anyone?), a nightclub and even a cinema, there’s plenty to keep you occupied should you bust early from the EPT and wish to avoid the temptation of the table games.

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Deauville is famous for its horseracing, and the countryside around the town is the main horse breeding region in France. The first official flat race in Deauville was held in 1863 on a temporary racecourse on the beach. Since then, its two famous racecourses Deauville la Touques and Clairefontaine, have hosted prestigious annual race meets, such as the Le Maurice de Gheest, Le Jacques le Marois and Le Morny.

Fortunately for us, there are race meets in winter at Deauville la Touques, thanks to the recent introduction of an all-weather track.


Just across the River Touques, three-minutes by ferry, is Trouville; Hove to Deauville’s Brighton, and France’s first ever seaside resort. Like Deauville, it also has a casino, plenty of opulent but slightly bonkers turn-of-the-century villas, and chic, brightly painted boutiques, as well as working trawlers, a fish market and an aquarium.

OK, in February, sunbathing on the famous Deauville Beach may be out of the question, but there are more important things in life. We suggest taking a sobering visit to Sword Beach, one of the five beaches where the Allied Forces landed on D-Day in 1944, just 18 miles away.


The theme from Un Homme Et Une Femme, Claude Lelouch’s 1966 film partially set in Deauville, is a must for your iPad as you flounce around town. The film itself is a bit artsy and ponderous for our tastes but the theme tune is a classic. It’s the one that goes “ba-da ba-da-da-da-da-dada”. Come on, you must know it.

Part of Proust’s A La Recherche du Temps Perdu (In Search of things Lost) is set in Deauville. We expect you to read all seven volumes while you’re here.

Jean Pierre Melville’s Bob le Flambeur (Bob the Gambler) is an awesome French film noir classic about a man who tries and fails to rob the Deauville Casino. It heavily influenced Ocean’s Eleven and was remade by Neil Jordan as The Good Thief. A must for lovers of gambling / gangster movies.

Tags: poker traveller, normandy, deauville