THE beaches of Normandy may resonate around the world with the history of the D-Day landings but before and since those momentous days of 1944, its sands have been associated with happier events.
Just along the coast from the likes of Omaha and Sword, the little town of Trouville – correctly Trouville-sur-Mer – and its almost conjoined neighbour Deauville have been attracting leisure seekers for well over a century.
Deauville may have greater fame but I opted for Trouville as my base for a three-day visit; if it was good enough for the likes of Proust, Flaubert and Monet, I reckoned it was plenty good enough for me.
A ferry crossing from Poole to Cherbourg, followed by a straightforward two-hour drive west, and we arrived in Trouville, one of the first coastal resorts to be developed in France and effectively marketed as the nearest beach playground to Paris.
Despite its small size, Trouville has a dazzling array of flamboyant Belle Époque villas, as glitzy a casino as you’d find anywhere, a vibrant fish market and fishing port, twice-weekly produce markets and an enviable selection of good restaurants.
The whole ensemble is crowned by the most spectacular sandy beach that runs for what seems like miles and attracts bathers, poseurs and walkers in their thousands.
Neighbouring Deauville, just the width of the bridge spanning the River Touques away, also boasts a vast casino, a beachfront boardwalk and a stylish backdrop of individualistic villas, but its reputation has been founded on a year-round programme of horse racing, film festivals, yachting regattas, sports tournaments and arts events.
Deauville’s boardwalk is adorned by the mosaic Pompeian Baths and a stretch of wooden bathing huts, each named after film stars who have attended the annual American Film Festival in the town.
Within easy reach of southern England, with glorious beaches to one side and the rich Normandy countryside on the other, and with the splendid city of Honfleur a 30-minute bus ride away, the beautiful twins of the Côte Fleurie (Flowery Coast) are a perfect destination for a short break at any time of the year.
Pictured: Trouville seafront; fish market; casino; the harbour and casino at Deauville; the Mayor’s office at Deauville; memories of film stars on the seafront at Deauville.