Updated on 12 February 2021
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Nature has carved unusual shapes out of the white cliffs in Etretat, and as a result, this picturesque spot attracted many Impressionist painters, who sought to capture the cliffs on canvas. The pretty seaside town of Etretat is also the setting for Maurice Leblanc’s popular French children’s book about Arsène Lupin, the gentleman burglar. Two further reasons to visit Etretat are its fantastic 18-hole golf course on one cliff, and gardens on the other, both of which afford stunning views of the cliffs and town.
A picturesque spot
The cliffs and rock formations steal the show in Etretat, thanks to their exceptional natural beauty and the fact that famous Impressionists painted them so memorably. Erosion has created extraordinary arches in the chalk either side of the town. There’s also an amazing needle-like structure, known in French as the Aiguille. A walk up the cliffs to the west of Etretat leads you to an 18-hole golf course with breath-taking views over the Aiguille, while a walk to the east will bring you to the Jardins d’Etretat, a beautiful Asian-inspired garden affording stunning views over Etretat and its bay across to the Aval arch famously immortalised by Claude Monet and Eugène Boudin. Head back down to the seafront as the sun goes down and you can also see Etretat’s cliffs magically light up.
However, there is more to Etretat than the cliff formations and pebble beach. The small town beyond is picturesque and full of pretty restaurants and shops, while the remarkable wooden covered market and 19th-century villa Le Clos Lupin are both worth a visit.