August 31, 2009

The 35th American Film Festival of Deauville is not the only gem of Normandy

The Annual American Film Festival of Deauville

The festival is not new on the festival scene. Since its inception in 1975, it became next to Cannes Film Festival the next festival to be considered for and be seen at.

Even though it takes place in France, it celebrates cinematographic contribution in American film-making, and celebrities from around the world flee to Deauville for a bit of loving, and it does help that Deauville is not just another European location – it’s one of the most glamorous and relaxing seaside resort places with a long-string of beach that, without a hype, is no less beautiful (if not more) than the Croisette beach in Cannes, minus all the overflow of tourists and paparazzi.

(Deauville, 1985)

This annual festival features all kinds of American film achievements in full-feature and short films, with a first award having been presented in 1995, which means that for two decades the festival bore no pressure for the actors and directors to compete, but rather – to mingle, kick back and relax.


(33rd Annual Deauville American Film Festival - The Assassination Of Jesse James Movie Premiere; September 3, 2007. Deauville, France)

Every September (5-14 of September this year) Hollywood stars come to Normandy, where the season for locals and tourists start in May all through October, but not until the film festival starts, the city comes to live and blossom with activities from sunrise to dawn. Champagne starts to flow, hotels book up and casinos fill up with the eager players.

If you are looking to run into a celebrity in the likes of Brad Pitt or George Clooney, make a reservation at Royal Barierre at L’Etrier hotel, known not only for celebrity sighting, but also for its lobsters and ribs. The hotel displays photos of all the celebrities who stayed there throughout the festivals history.


Reaching Deauville at Cheap

(Normandy countryside - happy Normandy cows, the pride of the locals)

Instead of hoping on connecting flights (as no direct flights from USA are offered), fly to Paris and take a car. With only 195 km to go and a 8,80 Euro toll, you’ll reach out Deauville in a mere 2 hours, which is not that bad, considering the fact that you’ll be passing some of the best parts of France. Stop by a local village and inquire about a Normandy specific liquor that is made out of local caramel, which reminds of Bailey’s, only it’s smoother – a true delicious local gem!

(At one of such local spirit stores you can get a local caramel liquor)

For the local map, check here.

Your other alternative is, obviously, to take a train. Leaving from Saint Lazare train terminal, it also takes about 2 hours of an easy ride. (By the way, you can rent a car at the train station as well, check here for more information. For train tickets click here.

Deauville Is the Answer to Cannes

Even though September is not the best month to take advantage of La Manche’s waters, you do have an option to stop by Britain by taking a ferry across the canal. However, if it’s not in your plans, and the time of your visit has limits, take a stroll on the beach, where one of the romantic films of all times was filmed – A Man and a Woman (Un homme et une femme (1966)):

You can also go horse-riding on the beach, they do offer this option. It’s especially romantic at dawn, and there is just about the right place that offers – rue Reynaldo-Hahn horse-riding school.

The best way to see the city is by a bike, which is not an unlike transportation in European cities (just think of Amsterdam.) By bike you won’t miss local villas in a truly Normandy architectural style, stop by a local city market, open on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday only, or bike to the nearby town – Trouville, a fishing village with bustling quays and equally impressive beach.

Many seashore bistros offer outside seating to sit down for a quick bite of escargot and soupe à l'oignon gratinée and to watch the local bohemian crowd. One of the other local specialties - Boulard Calvados, a brendy, produced in the region Calvados, offers a harmonic blend between the fruit (apple) – because instead of using grapes as in cognac production, they use apples - and the delicate hint of vanilla (wood) and dried fruit with a hint of tannin from the Le Tronçay oak. Its taste is powerful and intense and aged between 10 and 20 years.

(Calvados Boulard)

This Is Not the Time To Diet

French cuisine is known for its exquisite and indulgent in butter dishes, and Normandy cuisine is very rich in its essence as it is. That’s when Calvados comes in the game – a true fetish among the Normandy residents who serve it as an aperitif, or as a side to a desert. There are three Calvados producers in Deauville region, who offer tastings of this absolutely addictive drink - Pere Magloire, Boulard and Lecompte.

Pere Magloire
Pont-l’Eveque, +33 (0)2 31 643031

Calvados Boulard
Coquainvilliers, +33 (0)2 31 626054

Lecompte
Notre Dame de Courson, +33 (0)2 31 482408

And if you think you've spent enough time in Deauville and its suburbs, two other towns worth to see in Normandy are Étretat and Honfleur.

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