David Hockney is a typical English ‘northerner’, with the low broad voice of his native Yorkshire. He has lived there, and has dappled with living in Los Angeles, London and Paris but now it seems he has now settled, at least for the time being, on Normandy. He says he was beguiled by the area’s natural light. He has been there three years ago he was, and of course he began painting straightaway. Hockney simplifies a landscape into a kaleidoscope of bold colours. It works.
The result is A Year in Normandie, a 90-metre panorama of the Normandy countryside, in a typical Hockney patchwork. On 22nd October it will be hung alongside the famous 11th century Bayeux Tapestry.
HOTEL BARRIERE NORMANDIE, above. is in Deauville, a coastal town 80 km east of Bayeux. The 271-room property was built in 1912 with masses of ‘Mock Tudor’ beams – see the image above. Unlike some Deauville hotels it is open year-round. In winter it can be an amazing experience trying to hike along the beach immediately behind the property, bracing oneself against the elements. Girlahead was there once on a wind-free day but there was a sprinkling of snow. Magical. Don’t miss the breakfast buffet here (10/10 said one happy customer).
Normandy is renowned for magnificent produce. This is the land of apples and dairy, butter, cheese and cream. It’s an area of rolling hills and horses, the kind of landscape that intrigues Hockney today, and which in the past fascinated Coco Chanel. Her single-story shop is still there, in the village-type ‘mall’ that is within a few minutes’ walk of the hotel.
Groupe Barrière, which seems to operate much of Deauville, was founded here in 1912 by François André, who was joined by Lucien Barrière – it is run today by Barriére’s son-in-law Dominique Desseigne and his grandson, Alexander Desseigne-Barriere. Starting as a casino operator, it is still strong in that sector but it is best known in luxury hotel parlance for two city beauties. FOUQUET’S PARIS, bought by the Groupe in 1998, is on Champ Elysées and the just-opened FOUQUET’S BARRIERE NEW YORK is downtown. The latter got rave reviews from Vogue, which highlighted its Martin Brudnizki interiors, with sumptuous velvets and lavender pastels, which he considers ‘Paris chic’. Not sure if David Hockney would approve – but he is in Deauville.
Hear Alexandre Desseigne-Barriere here: