Etretat was always on my mind and my bucket list. It was love at the first sight. I understand why Claude Monet had lived there for a while and painted the famous Etretat’s cliffs. Nowadays a lot of tourists are visiting Etretat, however we will show you where to stay alone to enjoy this beautiful place and to charge incredible energy.
So, how to get there?
Etretat is located in the French region of Normandy (Upper) on the coast of La Manche dividing the French coast and the island of Great Britain. The town is known for its picturesque cliffs forming natural arches. The coast of Etretat is located on the limestone shore of the Pays de Caux. The steep cliffs extend here for hundreds of kilometers along the English Channel, and the cliff height ranges from 60 to even 100 meters. So, safely go ahead, after tourist routes, if you want to stay alone with the manifique nature.
On average, the trip from Paris takes 3 hours. Of course, you can rent a car, but if there is no such opportunity, you can travel by train and bus. You can easily reach Le Havre from Paris Saint-Lazare railway station by northern direction trains, and after to take the 24th bus route from Le Havre directly to the heart of Etretat. You are welcome to review the train-timetable on website https://www.sncf.com/sncv1/en/passengers and buy cheaper tickets in advance.
Beauty and soul of Etretat
As a matter of fact, it is possible to come to Etretat only for half a day, to take pictures and to climb the main cliffs. Actually, that was originally part of my plan. However, when I arrived there, I could not leave this place. It was barely for the first time in my life, I always try to plan my route and strictly follow it, but in Etretat I felt the strong connection with the Nature, the incredible flow of energy, so I decided to stay more. Indeed Normandy does not treat much its inhabitants with good weather. I was also not lucky: there was a cold shower and very strong wind that literally knocks down. But I felt energy, the incredible energy of that place. I saw a special charm and the natural beauty! I decided to look closely the place. Each street in Etretat has its Norman charm, a large number of stylish shops and houses, hotels and restaurants.
Do not miss your chance to visit the oyster bar and to try fresh oysters. For example, I like oysters, but if it’s the first time for you, then it is the perfect place to become a devotee. I recommend to visit the freshest seafood store and oyster bar Les Perissoires or the restaurant opposite Marie Antoinette, www.marieantoinette-etretat.fr and to order fresh oysters with white wine.
There is a special feeling in Etretat, like the time has stopped, I felt myself like a star of French cinema, where the whole city is stage scenery set. Actually, the real city cannot be so charming and photogenic. Even if its area is slightly more than 4 km and the population is only about 1500 people. You would probably wish to spend a respectable age here. To start every morning with a walk along the coast, greedily breathing the salty sea air, admire the seagulls and the Atlantic. To visit the grocery stores in the daytime and to choose the freshest seafood for dinner without any hurry, talking with locals about the life, and to meet every evening with long-walks admiring the Etretat’s cliffs, enjoying the picturesque sunsets, talking about love and breathing the Life.
The decision was made. There are a lot of mini hotels in Etretat, so looking at a few options; I decided to stay in the hotel near the Atlantic Ocean. Almost every restaurant has its own mini-hotel upstairs. With regard to restaurants, I advise you to visit any of the coast and to order a pan of the freshest mussels with French fries. Believe me, it’s very tasty! The rain stopped, so I decided to look closer everything around.
The next morning Etretat became incognoscible. I saw the bright sun and nothing reminded of yesterday’s weather Apocalypse. Such weather is perfect for a picnic on the top of famous Etretat’s cliffs – go closer to the 50-meter Needles L’Aiguille d’Étretat or L’Aiguille Creuse, which received this name thanks to the novel of the French writer Maurice Leblanc, one of whose characters were trying to unravel the mystery of the royal treasures hidden in the cliff, which, according to the plot, is empty inside. To buy a fresh French baguette and camembert, brie or mimolette cheese and enjoy the views of this wonderful place with breathtaking view.
The city beach of Etretat is framed from both sides by cliffs (French “Falaises”). On the right it is the cliff La Falaise d’Amont (“Upper Rock”), and an arch called La Porte d’Amont (“The Upper Gate”) which was formed on the edge of the cliff. If you go to this side, you will find beautiful park Giardin de Etretat. This colorful futuristic park was opened to visitors in September 2016, and became a real discovery. This park is something incredible. It combines contemporary art, an unbeatable view of the Eternal Eagle, unreal landscape design and sounds of the Nature. This is a paradise of tranquility and incredibly beautiful Nature.
On the other side of the city’s beach of Etretat is situated the unreal cliff of La Falaise d’Aval (“Downstream Rock”) and incredibly resembling a gigantic elephant leaning towards the cool Atlantic waters. In this cliff is a large arch La Porte d’Aval (“Lower Gate”). Next to them is situated a well-known Needle, mentioned above.
So, if you are going to visit Paris, you should include Etretat to this trip. It will become a cherry on the top of your French holidays. You will not only remember the place for ever, you probably would like to return there more than once with a loved one, with a child, with dear parents or close friends. Etretat will be waiting for you, because the Time stops there.