There are many reasons why Deauville is considered to be the “queen of the Norman beaches” and one of the world’s most prestigious seaside resorts. A longtime seaside resort of French high society, the Côte Fleurie has long been referred to as the Parisian Riviera since it is the nearest seaside resort to Paris. Besides villas and mansions, Deauville boasted casinos, horse races, luxury boutiques, a beachside boardwalk, and therapeutic baths. Its main attraction, however, is its wide sandy beach, which is ideal for sunbathing, donkey rides, aerobics, and other outdoor activities.
Deauville’s earliest records date back to 1060. During that time, the region was known as Auevilla, and Seigneur Hubert du Mont-Canisy ruled it. Eventually, Hubert left France to follow William the Conqueror, the first Norman king of England. Despite its long history, Deauville didn’t become the region it is today until 1860. By 1860, Deauville was renowned for its horse country. Napoleon III’s half-brother Charles Auguste Louis Joseph de Morny transformed the region into a travel destination. Before his death, the Duc built the Deauville-La Touques Racecourse, invested in the Paris-Deauville railway, built a small casino, and built a church and school. Suddenly, Deauville was no longer a sleepy seaside hamlet.
The Normandy Barriere and Royal hotels opened in the early 20th Century, and Coco Chanel’s first store opened. In World War I, wounded soldiers were cared for at Deauville’s famous hotels and casinos. Deauville’s market and trade sector also suffered greatly from the war, as merchants had to contribute many goods to the war effort. In the 1950s, Deauville’s paradisiacal aura reemerged after being destroyed by the national financial crisis and World War II. During the Second World War, the German Army occupied Deauville. German forces occupied or used villas, hotels, and casinos. Deauville and Normandy were liberated by allied forces following the D-Day invasion. In the 1960s and beyond, Deauville understood what it represented and played the cards it had at its disposal: myth and exclusivity.
Here are some fabulous historical photos of people enjoying and having fun at Deauville beach from the 1900s to the 1950s.
The world's champion speed swimmer, Duke Kahanamoku teaching Miss Lura Anson to swim, while director Sam Woods and Conrad Nagel, Paramount star, look on. Miss Anson will lead a hundred bathing girls in a scene depicting the French beach at Deauville, the locale of a production soon to be released by Paramount under the title of The Impossible Mrs. Bellow.