Even hotel suites are dedicated to big movie names. Guests from Clint Eastwood to Harrison Ford are happy to pose for a photo to dedicate a suite in their honour. The festival runs for a glitzy 10 days at the end of August. Take tea in the hotel lobby of the Royal or walk the seafront and you might find yourself coming face to face with George Clooney or Sharon Stone.
This was the tiny town, with a big dollop of glamour, where Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones first met, and Douglas is back this year to open the festival with his movie Behind The Candelabra, about the life and times of Liberace, on August 30 (visit festival-deauville.com). This manicured Channel resort has glossy, high-end big-city shopping with smart names such as Hermès. Coco Chanel opened her first boutique in Deauville in 1913.
Dominating the town are the seafront Normandy and Royal hotels which, at the turn of the last century, put the resort firmly on the map. You can play the casino tables, or frequent the famous racecourse. Deauville has a long association with the turf — watch thoroughbred horses exercising on the beach, ready for the next meeting.
Now all this can be reached directly from City airport with CityJet, which has begun one-hour flights, four times a week (from £101 return). Of course, the seafront is pivotal to the town and the stylish marina is the bustling jumping-off point for local boat folk.
Working boats land their catches a short walk across the bridge in the twin town of Trouville and the fish are sold in the quayside market there. Frenchmen used to joke that they kept their wives in Deauville, and their mistresses in less-classy Trouville.
Should you be making your way across the River Toques with the intention of snapping up a catch of the day in Trouville, you will pass in front of the most ambitious new construction site since the marina was built.
Residence de l'Horloge is in the perfect spot
The first tranche of the Residence de l'Horloge (jb-boitard.com) will be ready for occupation by winter 2014. Strategically positioned between the train station, the sea and town centre, it will initially offer a selection of two- to six-room apartments — the majority with balconies.
There is still availability. Also under construction are 15 houses with gardens leading down to the riverside. Prices start from £262,000 for a onebedroom flat to £1.2 million for the most prestigious apartments with five or six rooms. Buyers can register their interest at deauvillepresquile.com
More for your money
Expat Barbara Dent, who lives in Paris, is seeing Deauville in a new light. "I have had my eyes on Deauville recently as it is becoming more affordable," she said. "For a long time it has been priced in keeping with its reputation as the well-heeled '21st arrondissement' of Paris. But as the prices have softened there is a chance to get more for your budget. The euro crisis downturn is having its affect on this chic resort.
"It is true the downward pressure on prices is even being felt in Deauville — though it remains sought after. Not only is there the film festival, but there are many other cultural events during the year. Nicolas Sarkozy even hosted the G8 summit here in 2011." Catherine Boitard from Deauville's oldest local estate agency, JB Boitard, agrees. "The number of sales has dropped, prices remain steady, but let's say there is room for negotiation."
Audrey Ducrocq at estate agents Guy Hoquet says the market has reversed over the past year. "I have been working here for nine years," she said. "In the past 12 months, for the first time, there are more sellers than buyers. This means that those wishing to buy are being more demanding and taking their time.
Prices remain on average around £5,100 a square metre rising to £6,000 for sea views. Town-centre pieds-à-terre can be found for around £170,000 and three-bedroom houses are on the market for £600,000."