France: 27 May 1975

Another lovely day dawned – we are being lucky with our weather. Normandy is a very good place to be in in the warm May weather; the landscape is so green and lush, and the blossom is everywhere. Had a shower to start the day, felt all refreshed and ate an enormous breakfast. Afterwards did some washing – vast quantity in fact – and we wrote our diaries, etc. before setting out for the seaside. Stocked up with various provisions and went on through Deauville till we found a parking space right by the beach, so we parked and moved onto the acres of golden sand. Not many people about, we all had masses of space. Children adjourned to the sea edge and dug for cockles with everyone else – endless vista of bent-double people raking round in the sand! Also lots of people shrimping, and some more people with an enormous net which they were dragging through the sea. Weather was warm and sunny so we lay and sunbathed – it was bliss.

Had our lunch – mainly tinned stuff – and some more sweet cider, then the children dug another enormous fortification down by the water as the tide came in. Gareth had hysterics at the thought of a shower – he sulked and sulked! After a nice sun-bath we drove over to Villers-sur-Mer and then back into Deauville where we parked and had a look around. Deauville quite incredible! Very smart shops -Hermès, Jean Patou, Ted Lapidus, a Courrèges stockist, Persian carpet shops and a fascinating Chinese shop selling weird shapeless sacking gowns and coolie hats. A sculptor – C***selles [illegible] – having an exhibition which mystified the children as most things were not easily recognisable shapes, but he did have some heavenly signed prints we coveted.

The Casino was huge, cream and very elegant, and in front stretched tennis courts etc. to the bathing cabins and umbrellas. The beach promenade was made of wooden planks and behind it were the changing rooms. Deauville beach umbrellasIt was all a far cry from any British seaside resort, and obviously attracts a far wealthier clientele. There were some incredibly unreal looking females about, made up, dressed at great cost. After all, one of the shops had a white accordion pleated skirt, the ribs picked out in gold glitter for about £100! We were delighted to have seen a place like Deauville, and were fascinated by two kinds of transport you can hire – the double tandem and the little pedal carriage.

Deauville pedal power

Returned to site and wrote our diaries. Had a dish of coq-au-vin from the château – delicious, and had a coffee and cognac there afterwards. Fascinated by the people in the next pitch who have a small Renault van into which they have packed two bikes as well as a tent! Did some sketches of the château and lake. Air of decayed grandeur in the château was fascinating – old pieces of furniture, and parquet floors, and a bar in the corner!

Article on Mme la Marquise, Cecily Mackworth

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