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With its majestic cliffs, natural arches and the breathtaking scenery of the Alabaster Coast, Etretat makes for a magnificent backdrop for your next stand-up paddle boarding adventure! Floating across the water amid this stunning setting is fun, relaxing and rejuvenating. Here’s what happened when we tried it…

Booking with the pôle nautique d’Etretat watersports centre

As an avid sports lover, I’ve been itching to go stand-up-paddle boarding against a jaw-dropping backdrop in Normandy. Blessed with an incredibly beautiful coastline, Etretat is a bucket list destination, ideal for combining my passion for the great outdoors and an active adventure! Les Voiles et Galets d’Etretat watersports centre organises group outings to explore the cliffs and natural arches in a truly unique way, under the wing of super friendly expert instructors Nicolas and Mario. The spot is simply spectacular!

Safety briefing before The outing

On arrival, I am introduced to the other participants, two mothers, their two teenagers and a young girl. One of the great things about stand-up paddle boarding is that it’s a family activity that anyone can enjoy, regardless of their age or level of ability. Before we embark on our adventure, a full safety briefing is provided by the instructors on the white pebble beach. We learn about water safety and the specificities of the spot, launching and landing, the basics of forward paddling, turning, and balancing techniques.

Safety briefing and paddling techniques on the beach © D. Dumas


After the briefing, it’s time to practise on our boards in the water. I start in a kneeling position and take a few strokes on each side of the board. Slowly, I stand up in the middle of the board and find my balance, keeping a slight bend in the knees and my core centered over the board. Drifting away from the shore at my own pace, I soak up the dramatic scenery of this real outdoor sculpture gallery carved by Mother Nature. Ahead of us, the magnificent soaring cliffs, the natural arch looking like an elephant’s trunk known as the Porte d’Aval and the pointy rock rising from the sea behind it, the Needle, leave us totally awestruck. Wow factor guaranteed!

Stand-up paddle boarding in Etretat © D. Dumas

Guided tour under the arch

Within a few minutes, everyone feels comfortable and at ease with the paddling technique. Nicolas begins the tour with captivating facts about the town of Etretat, the cliffs and the rock formations. The views are mesmerising! We paddle towards the towering Porte d’Aval until we reach its magnificent arch and paddle right through it. What a magical experience! As the tradition goes, we all close our eyes and make a wish as we pass under the arch. Truly, this is one of the most picturesque natural wonders I have ever seen, definitely enhanced with a very special energy.

Under the famous arch of Etretat © D. Dumas
The arches of Etretat © D. Dumas

Paddling under the Manneporte

We continue cruising straight ahead to pass under the Manneporte arch, the largest of the three arches of Etretat. A pure moment of bliss! Surrounded by natural beauty, we enjoy a nice paddle along the coastline on the way back to our departure point, breathing in the salty air and gliding at a slow, laid-back pace. An amazing experience I’ll never forget!


Known for its spectacular cliffs, Etretat is one of Normandy’s most popular tourist sites. Located on the Alabaster Coast, Etretat has inspired generations of painters, including Camille Corot, Eugène Boudin, Gustave Courbet, and Claude Monet.

An exhilarating experience in Etretat @Danielle Dumas @Danielle Dumas


Voiles et galets d’Etretat

76790 Etretat

Online bookings

A minium of three people must book for outings to go ahead (minimum 8 years old)

Paddle or kayak available

Duration: 2 hours

Equipment supplied: Wetsuit, life jacket, paddleboard

Equipment to bring: Swimsuit, neoprene slippers, dry towel, sunglasses and warm clothing for after the outing

Covid-19 information: All measures are taken to socially distance participants and respect health and safety measures in place

All information subject to change

DATES 2022

From 2 April to 30 October

In April, May, June and September: 10h – 12 h or 17h – 19h with an intructor (Reservation required).

In July and August, on Tuesday and Thursday only 18h – 20 h (Reservation required).

Rental at other times.


€30 for 2 hours

Reservation online or by phone only.

All of the above information is subject to change


Stand-up paddle boarding instructor

A watersports enthusiast since childhood, Nicolas is an expert stand-up paddle boarding instructor who thrives on sharing his knowledge of Etretat and his passion for this sport with visitors, whether you’ve never done it before or want to improve your skills against a magnificent backdrop!

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