Deauville La Touques
For me this was a highlight of our visit to the town (in fact the reason for going).
The course is completely charming! Very French, very Norman - see pictures. It is immaculate as well.
We were lucky to have a sunny late October afternoon, and the crowd was small, so we were able to enjoy being outside and move around freely. I suspect the course is much busier for its bigger summer meetings.
Betting is different to the UK, in that they don't have individual private bookmakers. You can only bet through the Pari Mutuel Union (PMU) - like the Tote in the UK. Its fine once you get used to it. We found a teller who spoke excellent English, but a few key words in French (number of horse, amount of bet and "gagnant" or "placé" are all you need. Its not high finance, after all.
We were there during a 14 day Normandy "Equidays" festival, focussing on equestrianism in the region. Its a big deal in the area. In fact there is another racecourse in the town - name escapes me. Yearling bloodstock sales were taking place in the auction ring across the road from the course.
The course was established in 1864 by a half brother of Napoleon III, to complement to town's casino and spa attractions. It was renovated in 1994-95 and an all weather sand track installed in 2003 (at our meeting, only one in 7 races was on the sand).
The facilities include a restaurant on top of the stand - we did not have time to try that and had to make do with a sandwich. Advance booking is probably required.
Entry was FREE when we went - I think they make a small charge for the big summer meetings (€3, or suchlike).
Equipment: Cash - for betting (not compulsory, but it makes the races more fun).
Clothing - depends on the weather, but you will be outside for 4 hours (there is a grandstand, but it will not hold everyone on a busy day). The other issue (being France and all) is how stylish you want to be. There is no dress code, but you may want to "look the part" by digging out your best designer labels!
Binoculars - the course has a giant TV screen, but you may want to decide what you are looking at.
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Horse Racing at Deauville
Best value horse racing in Europe, especially in August. There's a meeting every other day with some very big ones attracting all the top jockeys. Best thing about it is that it is very cheap to get in. Only 3 euros (4 euros on staurdays). Also if you go round the tourist offices you'll probably find free entry leaflets. There's also loads for the kids to do (rides, gifts)...and all free. unlike British racecourses they make their money from a cut of the tote rather than ripping you off at the gate. Take a picnic (plenty of picnic tables) and save even more. Very smart racecourses although jeans and shorts are okay. Puts British horse-racing to shame.
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