Monday, July 3, 2017

Normandy Journal: Deauville

photograph by Hallie Cohen
Some people might describe the architecture of Deauville as Norman with its wainscoting (known in Normandy as half timber since the houses are only half made of wood) and peaked roofs but it really exudes an almost Tudor effect. Deauville is reminiscent of Newport, Rhode Island to the extent that it’s faded glamour presides over famous festivals and races. You have the Newport Jazz Festival and the Deauville American Film Festival (there's a Meryl Streep suite at the Hotel Royal) and there are respectively the America's cup and the track in both places (on misty mornings horses can still be seen traipsing along the beach, as gulls honk overhead). The more faded sections of Deauville also make you think of an English seaside resort like Brighton, where the wealth of the haves only rubs salt in the wounds of those of modest means (Graham Greene memorialized Brighton as a place where violence lay right under the surface of everyday life). As you drive into town you come upon the scenic harbor, the grand looking Casino and the majestic old hotels. These imposing fin de siècle structures are reminiscent of regal institutions like the Carlton in Cannes and the Negresco in Nice with their white stucco and red carpets, but Deauville has an almost provincial quality and the natives you see walking on the streets or on the boardwalk, which runs by the sea, exhibit the determined, even tough qualities of a culture which derived from their original Viking ancestors or "northmen" who migrated to the region in the 9th Century.

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