Deauville: Hollywood in Normandy
In the old days, the creaking trans-Atlantic vessels carrying wealthy American holidaymakers would dock at the port at Le Havre, France.
From there, eager American vacationers would hop into rented cars and speed down roads winding through the rocky Norman countryside before reaching the tiny resort town of Deauville.
Among those travellers were an enormous number of classic American movie stars-- from Clark Gable to Rita Hayworth to Hedy Lamarr to Buster Keaton to Yul Brenner. Errol Flynn, an avid sailor, arrived in his own boat.
The Yankee star's love for Deauville left a lasting impression and since 1975, Deauville has hosted a festival dedicated to American film. The second largest film festival in France (just behind Cannes), Deauville will kick off at the end of August.
Why Deauville ?
Deauville, a tiny town of only 4,000 residents, boasts four different cinemas and has been nicknamed Hollywood-on-sea (Hollywood sur mer). Indeed, the towns' love for cinema-- both French and American-- runs deep.
This ritzy little resort town has been the backdrop for more than 62 movies.
.. that's more movies than have been filmed at the Eiffel Tower (45).
But what made this tiny town so special?
Philippe Normand, director of cultural affairs for the city, got nostalgic just answering.
"It was such an animated place in the summer, " he said. "You could capture good times, beach scenes, scenes of summer love... and the light was perfect. "
The town was also an ideal setting for mysteries and detective stories.
"There is a casino, and huge villas built by the rich... the setting makes you want to steal something, " Normand laughed. " Everything that revolves around money makes a good backdrop for intrigue."
The stars were also drawn in by the bright lights and fast living. Rita Hayworth is known for throwing lavish parties in her villa, complete with hundreds of guests.
So, how did this history turn into the Deauville American Film Festival?
Find out about the festival in part two of our article... Birth of the Deauville Festival !