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Things to Do in Normandy - page 3



Founded by Napoleon’s half-brother on the Normandy coast in 1861, the chic seaside town of Deauville (pronounced “Dovil”) has been a summer playground for the French elite, including Yves Saint Laurent, ever since the late 19th century. Full of designer boutiques and five-star hotels, manicured gardens and ritzy restaurants, Deauville is the place for Parisians to see and be seen in the summer.

Known in France for its starring part in Proust’s “In Search of Lost Time,” Deauville is in the heart of the Parisian Riviera and boasts the Grand Casino, Deauville-La Touques racetrack and the American Film Festival in the first week of September every year. Unlike at Cannes’, public admission is available for many of the previews at Deauville. Very much a resort town, Deauville’s population of 4,100 heavily depends on tourism. Twinned with the town of Trouville right next door, visitors often hop over to Trouville by simply wandering over the pont des Belges bridge.

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Trouville (Trouville-sur-Mer)

The chic seaside town of Trouville-sur-Mer is a popular getaway among Parisians seeking respite from the city. Twinned with the even ritzier town of Deauville next door, Trouville maintains its traditional roots as a glamorous beach resort and working fishing port, with Trouville fishermen still seeking out shrimp, mackerel, scallops and sole today.

Less touristy than Deauville, Trouville has long been a hotspot for bohemians, and in the 19th century, writers like Flaubert and famous French artists including Mozin and Boudin came here to be inspired and enjoy the laid-back vibe. Trouville still has a flavor of the Belle Epoque about it, and a real authenticity can be felt in this maritime town, especially at the lively Fish Market (Marché aux Poissons).

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Near the Normandy hamlet of Longues-sur-Mer, Longues battery was part of the Nazis’ fearsome Atlantic Wall fortifications, built by the German Navy between September 1943 and April 1944.

Built with huge 152 mm naval guns able to fire up to 12 miles (20 km) away, the battery was strategically erected between the beaches of Omaha and Fold in order to prevent Allied landings on Normandy’s beaches. The night before D-Day on June 6, 1944, however, the Allied troops used a French cruiser and U.S. battleship to send a barrage of 1,500 tons of bombs over to the battery, where the German crew of 184 men surrendered the next day.

Longues battery is unique on the Normandy coast: it’s the only spot on the Atlantic Wall where you can still see the concrete casemates and guns just as they were after the 1944 showdown. At the battery, you can also visit Longues-sur-Mer’s command post and the personnel and ammunition shelters.

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