APOLLINAIRE

Writer

Escape in Deauville

In 1912, with the inauguration of the Normandy Hotel and casino, Deauville soon became the place where artists, show and music lovers came to spend the summer. In July 1914, Comoedia, famous artistic magazine of that time, asked Guillaume Apollinaire, famous art critic, and André Rouveyre, painter and cartoonist, to cover Deauville’s third great cultural season.

When they arrived in Deauville on July 25th, they settled in the “Hotel de l’Europe” (now “Hotel Continental”).
Apollinaire gambled, wandered the beach, and relaxed at the “La Potinière” terrace, a café where everyone met and gathered.
Apollinaire, on the lookout, witnessed and described remarkable scenes:
"On the morning of the 31st, a marvelous black man dressed with a simarre of changing colors, silvery blue and dawn pink, rode his bicycle along the streets of Deauville. We watched him riding towards the beach, along the Gontaut-Biron Street. He finally reached the sea in which he seemed to sink. Soon, we could only see his green water turban blending with the bitter flow."

On July 31st, the general mobilization was announced. Apollinaire and Rouveyre hurriedly returned to Paris.
A few letters and several poems about this stay were published in Calligrammes.
All the details of this holiday in Deauville were gathered in the same text written on October 5th 1914 and published with the title Souvenirs de la grande guerre (Memories of the great war), and in La Fête manquée, (The missed party), written for Comoedia on August 1st 1914, but only published on August 1st 1920. This last text was used by Apollinaire at the beginning of a new project novel entitled La Femme blanche des Hohenzollern. These texts show the poet’s last incursions on the rituals of holidaymaking before the war forced him to join the French army in December1914… Guillaume Apollinaire died of Spanish flu on November 9th 1918 at the age of 38, 2 days before the armistice.