what I'm doing, what I'm seeing, what I'm thinking

15/02/2011

Deauville brasserie

I am quite seriously addicted to continental brasseries - I love the style, the atmosphere and the tradition. They are invariably inviting, convivial spaces and unlike so many other venues perpetually 'updated' in line with every passing fad, they revel in their unique, unchanging and timeless style. I've posted about them before and here is my latest find - 'Les Vapeurs' at Deauville on the Channel coast of northern France.


If it's getting on for lunchtime and I spy an invitingly laid table on the terrace of some old-style brasserie I just have to sit down, order a beer and look at the menu.



'Les Vapeurs' is named after the old steam ships which chugged between England and France in the 19th and early 20th centuries. By complete chance it turned out we'd chosen the most famous brasserie in Deauville for our lunch, still frequented by 'vedettes' as it has been throughout its history.


One of the features I love in these places is the neon signage - I like how words seem to be 'scribbled' in the air.


Of course the zinc bars are amazing - the mellow, polished surfaces reflect everything around and make the glass look mesmerising.


The use of mirrors - sometimes covering whole walls - really plays with the space, expanding and reflecting it and creating parallel worlds.


Of course writing on the mirrors themselves is 'de rigeur' in brasseries.






The original tiled floor is classic! And these wooden chairs with the curved backs are so typical - and so comfortable. I really loathe pretentious, over designed 'modern' chairs in restaurants.







The traditional wicker chairs in house colours are typical of these brasseries too. They just get it so right by sticking to the same style through decades.



The interiors are often very visually complex which is one of the things I love about them - mirrors, plants, posters, signage, real, reflected, inside and outside - a cacophony of shape, line and colour jostling for your attention.


Judging by the zinc coated feet of the tables they've been there since the 1930s - or earlier.


Love the ceramic sign screwed to the stairs. Good idea!


So many different graphic styles - probably a history of changing trends through the last 100 years!


The 'ladies' must have been the absolute apogee of de-luxe contemporary design in about 1935 or 40!


What is it about this font and design which is so cool??







Real, polished wood is a default material in brasseries.



If I had to pick one detail which absolutely typifies 'brasserie style' for me it's these paper table covers, printed with the logo and name of the establishment and probably in a style unchanged since the place opened. To die for!









The street name sign behind the fabulous neon commemorates D Day, the
6th June 1944.
The events following the Normandy Landings are still tangible throughout the area - history feels very much alive in this region of France.


There's the old 'vapeurs'.






And in case you're wondering - we had Moules Frites, what else in a French seaside town?!



Deauville was built specifically as a seaside resort in the mid 19th century for an upmarket clientele. Trouville-sur-mer, which is adjacent, developed from a small fishing village frequented by artists and writers including Corot and Flaubert to a fashionable resort,gradually running out of space to accommodate all who wanted to make the 100 kilometer journey from Paris.

This is the Hotel Normandy, built in 1912 by the creator of Maxim's in Paris, is the plushest and most famous hotel in Deauville. Built overlooking the vast sandy beach, it's rich clientele would - and still do - while away their evenings in the massive casino nearby.


The architectural style is classic turn-of-the-century Normandy - a kind of Arts and Crafts meets Austrian chalet. The town is full of huge, wonderful villas built by rich Parisiens so they could party together in the summer and indulge in the newly invented pastime of sea bathing!






Deauville is still very upmarket - here's one of the shopping streets......................



..................et voila une Madame typique de la ville! It's all fur and poodles, it really is!






Wealthy tourists make potential clients for impoverished artists! The famous post-impressionist Boudin moved to Deauville from nearby Honfleur and painted (invented!) beach scenes to sell. He was joined by Courbet, Caillebotte and Whistler among others.















To visit Deauville - and its brasseries - really is like stepping back into another epoque, but what's great is that it isn't an historic theme park, it's just stayed the same for over a century because people like it like that and can't see the point of changing it!

You might also like my posts on Normandy Manoirs

2 comments:

  1. I see Les Vapeurs is at 11 Ave 6 Juin.... 6th June.. we call it D Day.. our daughter Dahlia's birthday.. Kathy I love the photos of this lost in time watering hole.. it is so nostalgic.. years ago lunch in the Porte de Vanve and Moules Frites by the harbour in Dieppe. A long time ago we drove to Pornichet from Paris after a weeks work, after a few days in a boutique hotel there at low season rates we headed back thinking we could stay on the coast before heading for Boulogne.. Trouville, Deauville.. every resort was fully booked so we ended up at a motel in Rouen.. I am amazed how popular those casino resorts still are.

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  2. Oh that brasserie is just perfection isn't it! You couldn't create a set like that, it's evolved so perfectly. The proportions and placing of that beehive plant on the stairwell couldn't be better and all the romantic pairings, I want to take it home with me! Lovely photos.

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