Etretat, a romantic open-air theatre overlooking the Channel, has provided inspiration to some of the most illustrious artists, and even a brief visit is enough to understand why.
Although the time is long past when women came to wash their linen on the beach, Etretat is still a place where emotions are real and man is in direct contact with Nature at its most beautiful and fragile.
The astonishing verticality of the cliffs of the Alabaster Coast contrasts perfectly with the gentle roundness of the shore. The waves of pebbles on which children love to slide reflect those of the sea, and transport you into a world of dreams.
Will you let yourself be tempted by a boat trip, or do you prefer to discover the cliffs, following trails that overhang the Channel ?
Whether you are aboard a small craft or on the summit of these limestone dignities, you can only marvel at the splendour of a completely unique seascape. Even if the treasure of the Kings of France were hidden somewhere in these mysterious surroundings, legends do not need to be written, here they have their own lives in this setting whose ageless renown has not undermined its wild beauty.
Worth a visit
- The cliffs : Courtine, Manneporte, the Aval and Amont cliffs, the Vaudieu rock or the Aiguille de Belval. Mysterious names borne by these sculptures carved by the sea in the chalk and flint of the Pays de Caux plateau. Some people think they can see the head of an elephant dipping his trunk in the waves, while others assert, as Maupassant did, that a ship with all sails flying could pass through the Manneporte arch... but you may decide for yourself !
- The "trou à l'homme" (the manhole) : One day in 1792 a raging sea threw a Swedish ship against the cliffs. The inhabitants of Etretat could do no more than watch, horrified, while the vessel was wrecked before their eyes. 24 hours later the wind had dropped and the waves had withdrawn, revealing a cave in which lay the body of a man. He had in fact only lost consciousness, and as he was being carried to the common grave where his unfortunate comrades were buried, he woke up. The "hole" that recalls that event has now been opened, and provides access to the Jambourg beach. It is only passable at low water. Check the times of the tides at the Town Hall before your stroll.
- The old market square : There was once a farm on this spot, then a pond. When it was filled in, it became the market square. Little wooden buildings grew up, until giving way to the covered market, which is now enlivened by charming stalls.
- Le clos Arsène Lupin : If you are a fan of the French fictional character created by Maurice Leblanc, this is for you : you will be welcomed by Grognard, the eternal accomplice of the gentleman burglar. He will guide you through a world where the lives of the author and his illustrious character are forever mingled. You will enter the heart of a mystery in seven steps composed of sound and light. A lot of fun !
Nungesser and Coli Monument : This astonishing spire has risen above the town since 1963, and pays tribute to two aviators who attempted the first Atlantic crossing in their aircraft, the Oiseau Blanc.
The golf Course : The course is in an exceptional position, and playing golf at Etretat, perched more than 150 ft above the sea, is a fantastic experience. The famous N°10 hole was redesigned this year, 100 years after the course was created, and is now even more spectacular, but that has to be seen to be believed !
Not to be missed