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FRANÇAISE

Feel like a French film star and stroll along the boulevards of the Normandy coastal villages of Deauville and Honfleur on the Côte Fleurie.

It is as if time has stood still there: the Côte Fleurie exudes French grandeur from days gone by. This is the place where many a painter and writer descended to be inspired by the serene beauty of picturesque fishing villages. Here, different landscapes alternate: from beaches with fine sand, cliffs and chalk cliffs to banks full of flowerbeds and boulevards boasting countless Belle Époque-style villas. It soon becomes clear why movie stars love to stroll along the boulevard of fashionable Deauville.
Fishing villages such as Honfleur and Trouville-surMer are ideal places to feast on the catch of the day. Whether you want to follow in the footsteps of prominent visitors like Coco Chanel or Claude Monet, the charming Côte Fleurie brightens everyone's day.

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CÔTE FLEURIE

It is the countless coloured flowerbeds, stretched over 40 kilometres, that give the Côte Fleurie its name as a flowery coast. From the port city of Honfleur, you descend past picturesque coastal towns overlooking wide sandy beaches and an azure blue sea. There’s a good reason why three of the seven most popular seaside resorts have the suffix 'sur mer' (French for 'by the sea') after their town names. The beautiful coastline with its quiet beaches and charming fishing boats were a favourite tableau for famous painters such as Claude Monet and Eugène Boudin. Later, in the late 19th century, the quiet coastal villages underwent a full-blown transformation due to the construction of a railway.

With the arrival of many Parisians whose travel was facilitated by this railway, the Côte Fleurie suddenly became a popular seaside destination. Along with these new affluent visitors came luxury hotels, fancy shops and the construction of extraordinary villas. A playground for celebrities and the rich, the coast therefore soon gained a reputation as a jet set destination, with annual horse races and film festivals. And Parisians still like to travel to the flowery coast in 2024, in order to leave the busy capital behind in just two hours. Take the first stop after the port of Honfleur in the small town of Trouville-sur-Mer, where fishermen set out before dawn to display their fresh catch at the local fish market a few hours later.

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You will find this Marché aux Poissons in the historic 1935 fish market hall located right by the port. Fish doesn't get any fresher than here. So do like the locals and devour the fresh catch while strolling along the wooden plank promenade where the age-old saying of see and be seen certainly applies. Speaking of mustsees: far from the strolling in the coastal villages, the cliffs of Vaches Noires stretch for a whopping four kilometres at a height of 100 metres. The area around these porous clay cliffs is the place to be for digging up fossils and unearthing treasures from the past. Lovers of history can also have their fun on the Côte Fleurie: whether visiting the city or nature, the flowery coast offers endless possibilities and age-old stories. Delve into the history of famous visitors and discover writer Marcel Proust's Cabourg, fashion designer Coco Chanel's Deauville or painter Claude Monet's Honfleur. Whatever angle you choose, there is something for everyone to discover.

DEAUVILLE

It was no coincidence that fashion designer Coco Chanel chose coastal city Deauville to open her first boutique on Rue Gontaut-Biron. Indeed, at the time of its opening in 1913, the cosmopolitan resort was bursting with celebrities, the rich and the progressive elite. In the seventies, Hollywood stars like Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly visited Deauville during the film festival and enjoyed the live entertainment at the impressive Casino Barrière, which opened its doors in 1912. Today, the casino still occupies a prominent place on boulevard Eugène Cornuché, named after Deauville’s co-founder, who managed to attract Parisians from the city to the flowery coast thanks to his popular casinos. This way you can follow in the footsteps of famous visitors such as Winston Churchill and Prince Charles with a lavish overnight stay at the adjacent Hotel Barrière Le Normandy, which boasts splendour, pomp and five big fat stars.

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While strolling along the promenade, you can marvel at the formidable Belle Époque architecture of the seaside villas. In terms of grandeur and fairy-like appearance, a comparison with the Efteling is not out of place, albeit Deauville is more of a luxury playground for adults.Right on the beach, a rather Wes Anderson-like scene unfolds. With a little imagination, the American film director’s retro style can be found in the coloured beach umbrellas and iconic beach cabanas that the resort is known for. On these beach cabins you will find the names of famous actors who attended the American Film Festival in Deauville. Along the nearly two-kilometre-long wooden promenade, you automatically bump into the contemporary Bar du Soleil. From here, you roll straight to your sun lounger after lunch or drinks, or vice versa. As a fashion lover, you can try your luck with the large number of high-end shops located just steps from each other. From Hermès to Chanel and from Louis Vuitton to Longchamp. The best sunset view is from L'étage's panoramic balcony, where you can watch the sun sink into the sea with a drink in hand. Rather look at art? Then check the recent calendar of contemporary exhibitions at Les Franciscaines cultural centre.

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THE HOTTEST SPOTS - HONFLEUR

At the mouth of the Seine, you will find the historic port town of Honfleur. Its biggest attraction is the medieval Vieux-Bassin – the old port – which is surrounded by old buildings with wooden facades and colourful shutters. Consequently, this was the starting point for many trade voyages and expeditions. Not only that, famous painters like Monet and Boudin enjoyed residing here, immortalising the picturesque fishing village on canvas. Sitting on the terrace of one of the port’s many cafés, you can almost imagine – while enjoying a Normandy camembert and a glass of cider – how Monet, behind his easel, captured the sailing ships at Honfleur's quayside with a brush. Through the narrow, cobbled streets around the harbour, you walk from boutique to art gallery to brasserie.

The city's showpiece is the Église Sainte Catherine church, built in the 16th century by local shipbuilders. Not surprisingly, the church has a striking maritime look. Just look at the wooden skeleton of Sainte Catherine, which resembles the inside of an upturned ship. If you fancy a close view of this historic building, book a suite at the adjacent Les Maisons de Léa. As a native of Honfleur, young Léa was known to have dedicated her life to preserving the town's traditional architecture and cultural heritage. She succeeded: through her dedication, a string of beautifully restored buildings now make up the boutique hotel. Have something to celebrate? Then the loft suite with claw-foot bath and panoramic terrace is the perfect place to toast together. To end a beautiful day in Honfleur with a French dinner, La Fleur de Sel is the place to be. Here, chef Vincent Guyon has elevated fine dining to a higher art, allowing you to enjoy classic French cuisine with a modern twist. That means local ingredients, fresh catch and artful creations on your plate. A feast for the eyes and your taste buds. Bon appétit.

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