A couple weeks ago, I took my first trip out of Paris since September 2019, and it definitely wasn’t too soon! It was so nice to be on a train going somewhere new again. This was just a short, quick trip two hours northwest of Paris to two adjacent seaside towns, Deauville and Trouville, in the Normandy region. The goal was to see the ocean, swim in it hopefully and just relax.
In the end, it was too cold to swim and rained quite a bit, but just wading along the beach and collecting shells turned out to be very therapeutic. And an unexpected bonus was all the beautiful houses in the two towns.
Here are a few photos to give you an idea (click on them to expand).
There were many beautiful homes (some of them mansions) near the beach on the Deauville side.
One of the highlights was Les Franciscaines, a brand-new cultural center that had just opened its doors in May 2021. Set up on the premises of a former convent, the site integrates ultra-modern details such as this ceiling installation made up of countless clear glass tubes into, on and around the original 19th-century structure. The former central courtyard now houses a reading room – visitors can browse the center’s reading materials for free on site, and members can check them out.
Les Franciscaines also hosts temporary art exhibitions. During our visit, the main one was “Sur les chemins du paradis” with a collection of paintings, sculptures and other works from a range of countries, cultures and traditions related to the theme of heaven and the afterlife. A particularly memorable piece was Bill Viola‘s video installation “Incarnation”.
The center also has a little café with lunch items, desserts, wines and hot drinks. Surprisingly for Deauville, their menu even included a vegan item (the salad shown above, with a nice portion of hummus hiding under the lettuce). Sadly, there were no vegan desserts or plant-based milks for coffee, although it seemed they normally did have oat milk but were just out of it that day.
A very welcome oasis in this not-super-vegan-friendly part of the world was Molybagert, a small fully vegan grocery in Trouville (a few minutes’ walk from Deauville) that also offers lunch items and desserts! The owner/chef was very friendly, helping us choose some local products to bring back as gifts for my friend who took care of Mochi during my absence.
The store has a nice range of food items as well as T-shirts, canvas bags and things for the home.
I fell in LOVE with this amazing vegan cashew-based blue cheese by Tyk Affinage. We got to sample it, and another by the same brand, in the store before buying. Made in the neighboring Brittany region, it was a fairly local product. After getting back to Paris, I discovered you could also (of course!) buy it here, for example at Un Monde Vegan (64 rue Notre Dame de Nazareth 75003).
One of the things we got for lunch was this super yummy croque monsieur with vegan deli slices and cheese. It was a sunny day, so we sat on a bench near the water to eat.
In this part of France you often see these beautiful ceramic hot chocolate bowls (“bol à oreilles” or “bowl with ears”) with names on them. In my search for more information on their origins I found claims by both the Normandy and the Brittany regions. I had been seeing them for years here and there in people’s houses, and when I found my own name I couldn’t resist getting it. If you too would like one, but you have an uncommon name or aren’t going to be in France anytime soon, you can order one online, for example here.
I hope this little bit of armchair travel has inspired you to visit Deauville and Trouville yourself one day!