We’re booked for a massage at the Spa Diane Barrière on the ground floor. There are a sauna and steam room here, as well as fitness sessions, massages, beauty, and hair and scalp treatments. The outdoor pool looks inviting but the weather is too chilly. However lovers of le freeze will enjoy the cryotherapy chamber here – used by professional sportspeople to aid muscular and joint recovery, cryotherapy is now more widely used for its numerous benefits. Apparently, you sit in a freezing cold room, enveloped by a hydrogen mist. Results include reduced muscular and joint pain, increased energy levels and accelerated metabolic rates. Perhaps on another visit…
Enjoying drinks in the cool refinement of The Green Bar before supper, I love the clubby Tartan theme which is welcoming and sophisticated. My first taste of Calvados (the range is mind boggling) with great views of the golf course beyond the 180-degree panoramic terrace. Our evening meal at the hotel’s Restaurant Le Lassay is superb: Helmed by Chef Tommy George, his creative output includes regional meats and local fish served alongside locally grown vegetables. A cavernous dining area somehow manages to be intimate and also has vistas of the golf course. We indulged in a succulent seafood plate starter, followed by sea bass and French crepe stuffed with caramelised apples. Normandy is the home to Calvados, cider and all things apple.
As you’d expect, golf is the main attraction at Hôtel Barrière l’Hôtel du Golf. A 27-hole playground among 70 hectares of magnificent landscaping. Opened in 1929 on the heights of Mont-Canisy a few minutes from the town centre, the course is renowned as one of the most beautiful in France. Architects Tom Simpson and Henry Cotton designed three 9-hole courses (the red course, white course and blue course), giving players of all abilities a shot at the birdy. Sessions and lessons can be booked online and there’s a pro shop.
Our golf lesson began early the next morning with the female resident golf pro who somehow coaxes nascent Tiger Woods out of us. The pros make it look so easy. It takes me nearly 10 attempts before my club actually hits the ball. But what a feeling when metal makes contact and I watch my white orb ascend in the air towards the 100m mark. Result!
Best Deauville restaurants
Drop in for a bite to eat or drink at the Golf Clubhouse and restaurant. Or head into town and the boardwalk delights of La Folie Douce Barrière. For a grander evening and special celebrations, the Belle Epoque charm of the Côté Royal at the Hotel Royal Deauville is a must. Crystal chandeliers and decadent fabrics are the backdrops for Chef Eric Provost’s gourmet cuisine.
We had a truly exquisite lunch at Le Ciro’s – the only restaurant on the Planches boardwalk that’s open in the evenings. Service was superb. Our lunch of an extraordinary seafood platter for starters (big enough for a main meal) followed by a fabulous Royal Bouillabaisse (sea bass, salmon, red mullet, cod, lobster and langoustine, saffron potatoes, rouille and garlic croutons) was outstanding. As was the Sancerre wine to accompany. The finale a divine apple tart with decadent Calvados on the side.
A walk along the 634m boardwalk is essential after such a feast…windswept and beguiling in its winter costume, both the Planche and beach are almost empty. Built in 1923, the boardwalk is a Deauville icon and the scene of many film festival photoshoots. The beach cabins are even named after famous actors and directors. I imagine the crowds here in spring and summer create an altogether different vista.
Should you tire of the sea and beach, Deauville has many attractions for visitors. Golf reigns supreme with nine courses in or near the city. Add to the mix La Touques and Clairefontaine racetracks, a vibrant yachting community, polo fields and an abundance of tennis courts and there’s much for outdoors lovers. Culturally the city has regular festivals and exhibitions. And shopping is a popular distraction. Many luxury labels have stores along the rue Eugène-Colas and around Place Mornay and Place du Casino. Coco Chanel opened her first shop in Deauville in 1913 when she moved to the city to be with her lover, Boy Capel. Clearly, she was sartorially inspired by the clothing she saw on the racecourses, beach and golf courses.