Updated on 18 November 2020
Reading time: 3 minutes
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.
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!
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.
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.
Voiles et galets d’Etretat
A minium of three people must book for outings to go ahead
Duration: 2 hours
A ‘gourmet’ break with local products to sample half way through the activity will be available soon
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
May, June and September: Every Friday 6pm-8pm and every Sunday 5pm-7pm
July and August: Every Tuesday and Thursday 6pm-8pm
Start from €30 (base rate)