Normandy - Honfleur and Deauville 1

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NORMANDY (Honfleur and Deauville)
NORMANDY (D Day Beaches and Bayeux)
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HONFLEUR is a small fishing town, yacht harbour and tourist centre located on the southern bank of the Seine Estuary in the Departément of Calvados. It is south of Le Havre and is connected to that city by the Normandie suspension bridge.

Honfleur was founded in the 11th century. During the Hundred Years’ War (1337 to 1453) Honfleur changed hands many times. The English last occupied the port from 1418 to 1450. During the 16th to 19th centuries the port’s importance increased as a result of trading with Asia and North America. In 1608, Samuel de Champlain sailed from the port to found Québec.

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The 17th century Vieux-Bassin is encircled by 15th and 16th century buildings, with six and seven story houses on the western side. On the east side is the town’s old fortified area, l’Enclos.

The 15th century Church of Sainte-Catherine, visible in the background, is situated to the northwest of the Vieux-Bassin and was constructed of timber by ship carpenters. It appears as an upside down ship.

During the 19th century, Le Havre became much more important than Honfleur as a seaport. Honfleur later became a Mecca for artists and writers: Boudin, Cézanne, Courbet, Pissarro, Renoir and Sisley all painted there.

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The first recorded reference to DEAUVILLE dates from 1060. At this time the village was called A Enilla and was more of a fishing hamlet than a village. A Enilla comes from the Germanic Auwja Auwa meaning wet meadow.

The village was originally up on the hill and a few houses were built next to the St Laurent chapel. The village had a small harbour on the river Touques of little importance. Deauville or Dauville owes it all to the Duc de Morny. He described the village thus: "Cité calme, aux rue désertes, elle forme avec Trouville, animée et bruyante, un contraste absolu. Mais ce manque de vie n'est, en réalité, qu'apparent, car des magnifiques propriétés, de même que les délicieux jardins qui les entourent, sont entretnus avec un soin on ne peut plus raffiné."

In 1855 land was being bought at five centimes per square metre; in 1862 the same land was worth one franc per square metre (a twenty times increase). The earlier buyer indeed bought marsh land and later sold land upon which buildings could be constructed. It was in 1858 that Doctor Oliffe, who owned a villa in Trouville, decided to create a reort town on the deserted sand dunes. In 1862 the first stone of today's Deauville was laid. The Duc de Morny bought 240 hectares of marsh land and dunes for 800000 Francs. In the 1860s visits by Napoleon III made the coast of Normandy adjacent to Deauville fashionable, and soon speculators developed the infrastructure necessary to accommodate members of the Imperial court and the growing Parisian bourgeoisie.

The railway arrived at Trouville-sur-Mer in 1863. Using the station called Trouville, passengers could now reach Deauville in six hours from Paris. The locked harbour was cleared in 1866.

Morny, who had influence at Court, managed to persuade the aristocracy that staying on the coast would benefit their health. Land was bought and large villas, sometimes even palaces, were built.

A casino and hotels soon followed and rich tourists came in their hundreds. The construction of Deauville's racecourse (called Hippodrome de la Touques) followed.

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Deauville hardly suffered during the First World War. But in World War II, during the German Occupation, Deauville saw most of its leisure utilities confiscated for use by the occupying forces.
During the 1960s, Deauville started to accept "less fortunate visitors". But it still is a haven for the rich and famous as well as holiday makers.

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The Promenade des Planches is a 500 metre long beachside board-walk lined with private bathing huts named after the rich and famous who have visited the town.

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The exclusive Normandy Barriere is one of France's most expensive hotels..

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The Casino de Deauville insists on formal dress - but a jacket and tie may be hired at reception!

(Acknowledgement: Much of the information on this page was obtained from 'Wikipedia' - the free internet encyclopaedia)

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