Bathed in an aura of turn-of-the-century elegance which belies a whirlwind social calendar of sailing, golf and festivals Deauville has long been a magnet for the Parisian aristocracy. Indeed, it was the first duc de Morny who fell in love with Deauville’s deserted peace and set out to turn it into ‘the kingdom of elegance’. Sumptuous villas, a railway link to Paris and a racecourse de Morny was passionate about racing sprang up between 1860 and 1864, and the Duke used his influence at court to draw the well-to-do to his creation. Since then, Deauville’s appeal has never failed.
The town is well connected to southern EnglandSkysouth operates regular flights between Shoreham and Deauville, ferries link Ouistreham to Portsmouth and Le Havre to Southampton, and the Deauville airport accommodates private jets yet there are few British buyers. ‘The British are the biggest foreign tourist in Deauville, but they tend not to buy in the town,’ says Paul Humphreys of Knight Frank. This may have something to do with the weather Normandy is as wet as southern England and also with cultural preferences. ‘Britons are keen to buy rural property, rather than a flat in town. If you work in the City, you want a nice piece of countryside,’ says Mr Humphreys.
Luc Seffray of agents Emile Garcin points out that the British who do buy in Deauville come for a number of reasons. ‘They like to play golf, attend yearlings sales and horse races at La Touques and Claire-fontaine, eat at fish restaurants, enjoy marine activities and the beautiful Pays d’Auge, drink cider and Calvados, and also visit the casinos.’
It’s this lifestyle mix that’s Deauville’s major draw, according to Winkworth’s David King. ‘In addition to the race meetings, polo and golf courses, you have the shops Hermès, Gucci, Louis Vuitton the beautiful countryside and the people. Some buyers are drawn by the fact that you meet French people, that you can immerse yourself in the culture of the country.’
Flats are the most common property for sale, but there’s also the odd half-timbered villa. However, prospective buyers should expect stiff prices, because local demand is strong. An average home can range from €600,000 to €1.2 million, according to Mr Seffray, who adds: Some properties are €2 million or more.’
The good news is that, for these prices, buyers not only get a home in one of France’s most prestigious resorts, they’re also likely to be making a sound investment. ‘Deauville is always quite a safe bet,’ says Mr King. ‘It never had the kind of increase England has been seeing until recently, but there are always buyers and always a certain type of clientele.’