I’m traveling to Deauville, France with the amazingly talented, season 2 Ink Master finalist Sarah Miller! We arrive Wednesday August 16, 2017 into Paris-Charles De Gaulle airport to attend the Deauville Tattoo Convention happening that weekend. I’m ecstatic because Delta upgraded my ticket to first class baby, what a different from economy! Plus, this is my 5th international travel in 4 months. I received a hot towel, champagne, MUCH better food, and the highlight is you can extend your seat into a flat position to sleep! I arrive first, find my friend, the Deauville AND Cezanne France convention organizer, Pitou and we wait for Sarah. Pitou has partnered up with Deauville tattoo artist Romain and I quickly learn they make a great team.
Police escort out of Paris airport
Once we locate Sarah, (always an ordeal in international airports) we are then loaded into a vehicle and start our departure from the airport. It will be a 2 hour journey North west from Paris to the coastal town of Deauville. I quickly notice we are cutting and weaving through heavy traffic with ease and realize we are following behind 2 officers/cops riding on motorcycles. Pitou somehow planned a police escort for Sarah out of the airport!
We arrive on the coast of Normandy into the town of Deauville. Deauville is a seaside resort town and an upscale holiday destination since the 1800s. It has sandy beaches on the London Channel and a 1920s boardwalk with famous bathing cabins. The town has chic boutiques, elegant belle epoque villas and half-timbered buildings, it is where the Parisians come to vacation and play.
Pitou and Romain drop us in front of the most beautiful hotel I have ever seen. It looks like a castle, mixed with a church containing gorgeous arches and stunning peaks adorned by 5” ceramic statues on top of each peak. (I later determine these statues are to keep the seagulls from squatting) It’s a 5-star hotel and our luxurious accommodations during our stay. We settled into the fresh cut flowers and dark wood lobby of the Hotel Barrière Le Normandy Deauville considered “Anglo-Normandy elegance” and built in 1912 by architect Théo Petit .. overall it’s F-A-N-C-Y!
Exploring town of Deauville
We join Pitou and Romain for lunch and walk through the quaint little town to a seafood restaurant called, at Le Drakkar. The atmosphere is reminiscent of a warm and cozy British pub but with fresh French seafood. It’s really so great catching up with Pitou over an amazing meal which I capture on my new obsession, the selfie stick. While exiting the restaurant, I look up and to see a smiling familiar face that I remember walking towards us. It’s Pitou’s daughter, Nauhy, and his wife who I met in 2016 during their Cezanne Tattoo Convention in the South of France. We walk together exploring the town before finally ending a long travel day back at the hotel to recover from our jetlag.
Thursday we’re recovering from jet lag so Sarah and I meet for breakfast and coffee while we slowly start our day. That evening we meet up with everyone for dinner at Il Parasole and are introduced to Christo Galiropoulos and his wife Nancy who has just arrived from Greece. It is so nice to meet new people before the convention starts to truly get a chance to speak with them as we all walk the beach after dinner. I have noticed there are Tattoo convention flags everywhere all-around town. I’m so impressed by Romain and Pitou’s marketing efforts!
Calvados and Casinos
Pitou is always such an amazing host who truly enjoys showing guests his country and the unique things that make is special. Friday we are told to meet in the hotel lobby. We all exit the hotel to see a stretch limo ready to take us on a tour of a Calvados distillery. Calvados is a variety of brandy made from apples (and sometimes pears) and like Champagne, Calvados must be grown in a certain region in order to be called Calvados, and that region is Normandy. This particular distillery named Boulard Calvados Pays d’Auge was founded in 1825 by a small family and passed down from generation to generation.
That same evening we attend the opening reception for the convention. We meet for drinks in lobby of our gorgeous hotel where I finally get a chance to meet my friend Alex from World Tattoo Events in person. We had spoken at length in the past who I now I consider a good friend.
We walk together to Casinos Barriere which was built in a classical style in the early 20th century by architect Georges Wybo. Over a hundred people attend this private party with entertainment such as dudes on BMX’s doing bike tricks accompanied by drum beats. After the party we make our way into the casino and it’s bar for the rest of the evening. As Sarah and I wrap up our evening and walk back to out hotel we are stopped by an elderly woman dripping in diamonds and French designer clothes. She is mesmerized by how beautiful Sarah’s tattoos are and is pointing to them and talking all the while I’m in awe of the huge jewels on her hands. For some reason this visual is branded in my head as a memory and symbolism of Deauville; friendly, rich, creative, nice people.
Deauville Tattoo Convention Time!
Saturday and Sunday is convention time! The convention takes place right on the beach at the CID, Centre International de Deauville. It is directly across the street from our hotel, so it is an easy walk while carrying all the tattoo equipment and Sarah’s marketing materials.
As we arrive, we walk into a well-lit entrance with a huge grand staircase. Sarah’s booth is at the front and next to French tattoo artist, Thomas Carli Jarlier who I had met at Cezanne convention with Reese Hilburn and Tatu Baby in 2016. Our row also includes my friends from the Netherlands, Shannon and her mom who I met at the Sinti Tattoo Convention in Holland. Plus, I got a small humming bird tattoo by Aaron Is the mini tattoo master.
Pitou and Romain had set up a private, VIP area for the tattoo artists too. It has a bar, espresso machine, some food, and sweets. Plus, it is a great place for Sarah to conduct interviews without all the noise of the convention floor.
Seaside Tattoo Convention in Deauville
The weekend is a busy, steady stream of people attending the convention from all over France. One of the tattoos completed by Sarah is a black and gray rose on the head of Matt Loren. When traveling we try our best to communicate simply in different languages. We use the app google translate A LOT and say things like, ‘I’m so sorry I don’t speak French. So when an American from Boston stands in front of you and I say “Je suis désolé de ne pas parler français.” he looks at you and says in English “I don’t know French either”. Hilarious moment. Carissa Lee who is a tattoo artist and her husband were in attendance and traveling through Normandy with their children and grandmother.
During the convention weekend Christos wins best Black and Gray tattoo for a Michael Jackson tattoo which is worn by his wife, Nancy. The tattoo really is of some amazing work. Fresh seafood is being served, which I have never experienced at a tattoo convention. You can order buckets of cooked snails and clams plus shrimp cocktail and raw oysters. Some of the entertainment for the weekend is a couple who throws knives at each other, burlesque performances and the BMX bikers are back doing sick tricks while another person is rapping in French with the drum set.
It’s my Birthday!
On Sunday the convention wraps and we head off to dinner with 30+ people. Pitou somehow found out it was my birthday (Nauhy I’m assuming it was you. 😊 ) and I’m completely surprised after dinner when a birthday cake is presented to me and everyone is singing … Yup .. I cried. It was such a special moment. I am not close to my biological family as is the case (I have learned) with many in the tattoo community it was so nice to feel welcomed as a family member and it was a birthday moment I will never forget.
Train to Paris
Before Sarah Miller and I fly back we plan to spend two days in Paris. It is Monday and a bunch of us walk into town to catch the train to Paris. When we travel, I do extensive research to try to find the hidden gem neighborhoods. Places where people typically live (not filled with hotels) but also centrally located and walkable to the notable “must see” city sights. I choose for us a hotel in the Haut Marais neighborhood. A trendy neighborhood with café’s, art galleries and art dealers lining the small, quiet, peaceful streets. Our accommodations will be Hotel du Petit Moulin. Which has 17 rooms, decorated by French clothing designer Christian Lacroix. Each room has a different color scheme and blown-up copies of the designer’s couture sketches. The quintessentially French finishing touch: the toiletries are from Hermès.
Paris and Pokémon
Our sightseeing time in Paris was incredibly unique. Sarah was beyond excited because there was a special Pokémon tournament happening the day we arrived. This is how we saw Paris; Sarah would find a character, we would race off to where it was on her phone and it always brought us to different, beautiful and historic spot within Paris. This was such a fun way to see this beautiful city! At dusk we hailed down a bike taxi who brought us by the Louvre, Champs-Élysées, The Pont Alexandree iii with it’s gold statues of nymphs and cherubs, until finally dropping us off in front of Eiffel tower. It was dark when we arrived, and the Eiffel tower was all lite up and sparkling. We spent time at the tower and browsed all the vendor shops across from the Eiffel Tower.
As always Thank you Pitou and Romain!
Our time in Paris was much too short and I cannot wait to get back. For three years I worked with Pitou and sent tattoo clients to the Deauville Tattoo Convention. Sarah Miller again in 2018 and in 2019 Sara Fabel, Loz and Ms Flakis. All have had an amazing experience in the seaside town of Deauville in the Normandy area of France. Thank you Pitou and Romain for always taking such incredible care of my clients.