Last summer we spent 36 short hours in the Calvados country coastal town of Deauville and were so enamoured with its crazy architecture and old-fashioned boardwalk-edged beach, that we had to plan a return visit.
So this year we made it the the first stop on our trip and planned in plenty of time to explore and soak up the local atmosphere.
Our campsite, although a little 'industrial' with more motorhomes and chalet rentals than traditional tent pitches, was just as we remembered it and was a great place to base ourselves for a few nights. Our mornings were spent in usual campsite mode - lazy breakfasting, baguette-fetching and the boys spent most afternoons in the pool and splash slides. The site was safe enough to give them a little independence to make friends and roam together having adventures and we discovered a beautifully peaceful lake one afternoon.
On the days we did venture out, Deauville's chichi centre is just a short bus ride away and during the summer months it has a daily morning market. It was great to watch Louis converse with the stall-keepers in his have-a-go French as he bought cherries, peaches and yoghurts.
Deauville is famous for its horse racing, beach, boardwalk and annual film festival. I can't speak for the racing side, but stretching on for miles and channeling proper old-school glamour, the beach is definitely worth experiencing. And set back from the legions of sun loungers is the famous boardwalk, which boasts a long row of wooden beach huts. Each one is named after a film star who has graced Deauville's annual Film Festival over the years and glancing at the roll call of names was a veritable whirl through cinematic history.
Although eye-wateringly expensive, the cafes lining the boardwalk are the perfect place to linger over a coffee and people-watch. The boys enjoyed the beach and collected armfuls of shells which they happily carted back to our camp at the end of the day. From Deauville, many a day out is possible. Last year we were rather ambitious, driving to ALL of the Landing Beaches, but there is much to be seen and explored on this part of the Normandy coastline. We'd definitely recommend it.
After Deauville, we headed to Brittany for the next leg of our trip, winding our way slowly west past Mont St Michel and St Malo and up the coast to Binic, to a small site 600m from the beach in the sleepy little town of Etables-sur-Mer.
More on that part of our road trip soon.