Like Biarritz, Deauville, France, was the place to go in the twenties and thirties for the international café society. It also has a spot in fashion history: Coco Chanel opened her first store in Deauville, and it was here that her famous pyjama de plage (beach pajamas) made their debut. But the item most associated with the city is the iconic blue-and-white sailor shirt. To this day, when a designer shows navy and white stripes, people think, Ah, Deauville! When I was a young girl, I used to come here for weekends. I also remember going to Deauville the weekend before I married my first husband, Egon, in 1969. Most recently I was invited to town by Aude Zieseniss de Thuin, founder and CEO of the Women’s Forum, for its annual Global Meeting. Instead of a business seminar, I presented the play Seven, which chronicles the lives of seven women who have overcome tremendous challenges in their native countries.
The annual Arqana Yearling Sale (August 14–17; arqana.com) and Grand Prix de Deauville (August 30; france-galop.com) attracts racehorse “farmers” like Ali Khan. But anyone can enjoy the races at the Hippodrome Deauville-Clairefontaine.
September 4–13, 2009
The Deauville American Film Festival is when, for one week only, quaint Deauville becomes like celebrity-packed Cannes. festival-deauville.com
THE PLACE TO STAY is the Hotel Royal Barrière, where I spent my most recent visit; it’s a majestic construction built in 1913. 8 Bd. Cornuché; 33-2/31-98-66-33
TO EAT, take a day trip to Trouville and try Les Vapeurs restaurant [160 Bd. Fernand-Moureaux; 33-2/31-88-15-24] and Brasserie Le Central, a favorite of Yves Saint Laurent’s [158 Bd. Fernand-Moureaux; 33-2/31-88-80-84].
MUST-SEES include Villa Strassburger, built by Henri de Rothschild in 1907 on the site of a farm once owned by Gustave Flaubert’s family. It is now open to the public during July and August [14800 Av. Strassburger; 33-2/31-88-20-44]. There’s also Honfleur, an old port 20 minutes away on the route de la corniche (cliff road). One of its churches, Eglise Sainte Catherine [Place Ste. Catherine; 33-2/31-89-23-30], was created by local shipbuilders in the 1400s and has a ceiling shaped like two upside-down boats.
La Maison de la Presse is my favorite bookstore. The man who owns it knows about every title in the shop...because he has read them all! 88 Rue Eugène Colas; 33-2/31-88-25-66