Everything You Need to Know About Visiting Étretat in Normandy
If you’re planning a trip to Normandy, France, you won’t want to miss out on the stunning coastal town of Étretat. Located along the Alabaster Coast, Étretat is known for its breathtaking cliffs, sandy beaches, and charming town. Here’s everything you need to know about this must-see area, including a round-trip hike along the cliffs.
Throughout its history, Étretat has been a popular destination for both tourists and artists. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Étretat became popular with wealthy tourists, who were drawn to the town’s beautiful beaches and charming local culture. Today, Étretat remains popular for all tourists, and we can absolutely see why.
Over the years, the town’s stunning natural beauty and the iconic Falaise d’Amont and Falaise d’Aval cliffs have inspired many works of art. One of the most famous artists to be inspired by Étretat was Claude Monet, who painted many works featuring the town’s cliffs and its beach. Some of his most famous paintings of Étretat include The Cliffs at Étretat and The Beach at Étretat.
Besides art, Étretat is also a popular destination for filmmakers. A few episodes of the Netflix television series Lupin were filmed here. If you haven’t watched Lupin yet, you have to add it to your Netflix list. It’s one of our favorite series and we’re patiently waiting for the next season!
Hiking the Cliffs of Étretat
One of the most popular activities in the area is hiking the breathtaking cliffs that line the Alabaster Coast. The cliff located on the northeast side of town is Falaise d’Amont. Falaise d’Aval is located on the southwest side of town. From the town you can easily get to these cliffs by following the paths up.
If you’re in for a longer (but easy) hike, we’d recommend doing a round trip hike starting from Parking du Valais, just outside the town. This round trip hike takes you from the parking lot to Pointe de la Courtine, Falaise la Manneporte and Falaise d’Aval all the way to the beach in Étretat. From there, you can either explore the town a bit or head back to the parking lot. In total, this round trip hike is around 1,5 hours long with a distance of 5,5 km.
Directions of the round trip hike
At Parking du Valais, there’s a pedestrian crossing with a fence on the west side of the street with a sign “accèss piètons obligatoire”. Go through the fence and head left. There’s a small path through the trees that you have to follow until you’re at a t-crossing. Head left here. This path is called Petit Valaine (if you zoom in a lot, the path shows up on Google Maps).
Petit Valaine is the steepest part of the hike. Follow this path all the way up until you’re at another t-crossing. Head right here, towards the sea. After a few minutes you’re at the first cliff: Pointe de la Courtine.
After a short break to take in the amazing views, it’s time to move on. If you’re in for an even longer hike, you can take the path heading south. For this round trip hike, take the path north. Don’t forget to take all the beauty in and snap some photos along the way. This hike is perfect for that!
After about 15 minutes, you’ll get to Falaise de la Manneporte. In our opinion, Falaise de la Manneporte is the best cliff to visit since it overlooks the most beautiful cliff of them all: Falaise d’Aval. It’s a perfect spot for a break, and also a perfect spot for a photo moment.
Once you’re done admiring the beauty, it’s time for the last stretch of the hike. You can already spot Étretat in the distance. The next cliff that is up is Falaise d’Aval. Since this cliff is the closest to town, it’s the most crowded one. It’s also the most beautiful cliff, but as you’re standing on top of it, you don’t get to see the beauty of it. The view overlooking the town and the beach is amazing though!
Take the path and steps back down from Falaise d’Aval and you’ll find yourself at Étretat’s pebble beach. We’d recommend taking a leisurely stroll on the beach as the views of the cliffs from up there are stunning as well. You can also take the path back up to Falaise d’Amont, the cliff on the northeastern side of the town. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time for that. In case you got thirsty and/or hungry from the hike, there are plenty of restaurants and cafés along the beach promenade and in the town. We had delicious pizzas at Le Romain d’Étretat after our hike!
Sunset at the beach in Étretat
There’s nothing quite like watching the sunset at the beach and Étretat is the perfect place to do it. As the beach is facing west, you can actually watch the sun set into the sea. If you have the opportunity, we’d highly recommend watching the sunset in Étretat. The beach in Étretat truly is a magical place to watch the sun go down.
How long to stay in Étretat
Since there is plenty to explore in the surroundings of Étretat, you can easily stay there up until one week. When you’re in Étretat in summer, it’s also a lovely place to have some relaxing beach days. If you’re only interested in exploring the town and nearby cliffs, one day in Étretat is more than enough. In one day, you can explore every inch of the town, do the round trip hike and even visit the Jardins d’Étretat, the Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde and Falaise d’Amont. We were in Étretat for only half a day, which is too short if you’d ask us. We didn’t have enough time to hike up the Falaise d’Amont, see the Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde and the Jardins d’Étretat were already closed.
As we were visiting more places along the Coast of Normandy, we didn’t stay the night in Étretat. We chose Le Havre as our base for our 3-day road trip along the coast. Le Havre was the best option for us as it’s centrally located between the places we visited during this trip: Le Mont-Saint-Michel, Beuvron-en-Auge, Honfleur, Étretat and Veules-les-Roses.
How to get to Étretat
Unfortunately, Étretat isn’t very well-connected by public transport. There’s a FlixBus from Paris and Rouen to Étretat, but it only leaves once on Saturday and sometimes on Sunday. There isn’t a train station near Étretat. Therefore, the best way to visit Étretat is by car. From Paris, Étretat is a 2 hour and 45-minute drive. From Rouen, you’re in Étretat after driving for 1 hour and 15 minutes. From Le Havre, it’s only a 30-minute drive to get to Étretat. From 09:00 until 19:00, parking in and around Étretat is paid, even on Sundays and holidays. Parking du Valaine is probably your best option to find a free parking spot, which is less than a 10-minute walk to town. This parking area is also the start of the round trip hike we’ve shared before.
We hope this post has inspired you to plan your own trip to Étretat, and we can’t wait to hear about your adventures in this charming town. Don’t forget to snap plenty of photos of the famous cliffs and arches.
Have you been to Étretat or is it still on your travel bucket list? Let us know in the comments below!
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