Etretat: The Most Picturesque Town in Normandie

The small town of Etretat in the French region of Normandy, is one of the jewels of the region. Impressionist artists such as Gustave Courbet and Claude Monet were fascinated by Etretat’s natural beauty and it’s not hard to see why. With its incredibly tall, white chalk cliffs and arches, Etretat is one of the most visited places in Normandy.

If you are looking for top things to do in Etretat read on! This post details everything you can easily see during a day trip to this beautiful part of Normandy.

Take a stroll along the promenade

Etretat’s beach is made of pebbles, which isn’t my favourite type of beach, but it is nonetheless an incredible looking beach.

From the promenade, you can view the two spectacular cliffs (Falaise d’Aval to the left and Falaise d’Amont to the right). There’s also the picture-perfect needle-like structure, known in French as the Aiguille.

A stroll along the promenade is a must to enjoy the sea breeze and the amazing scenery. If you happen to have a good day (it does happen sometimes in Normandy!) you may even be treated to an incredible sunset. Sadly, it was way too cloudy on both nights we were there.

The Cliffs of Etretat

The cliffs and rock formations steal the show in Etretat, thanks to their exceptional natural beauty. Our favourite thing to do in Etretat was climbing the steps to the top of the cliffs and wandering along the coastline. The panoramic views from up there were nothing short of spectacular and the white chalk cliffs and rock formations were so picturesque.

A walk up the Aval cliff to the west of Etretat takes you to an incredible 18-hole golf course with breath-taking views over the coastline. It is ranked as one of the best golf courses in the country.

While exploring this side of the cliffs, don’t miss the Porte d’Aval, the Trou à l’homme, and the Manneporte. We kept walking past the golf course and followed the coast towards the downstream cliff to the third peninsula and all the way to “L’oeil du Panda”. From there, you have a magnificent view over the beaches further south.

A walk up the Amont cliff to the East of the town is also a must. There are 341 steps climb but if you take your time and enjoy the views along the way, it isn’t so bad. Once there, you will have mind-blowing views of the town and the beach below. Keep walking a bit further along the coastline to the Porte d’Amont for more incredible views.

Visit the Jardin d’Etretat

On the East cliff side of Etretat, Les Jardins d’Etretat is a great place to stroll around for an hour or so. This beautiful, Asian-inspired garden has stunning views over Etretat and its bay, across to the Aval arch.

Entry fee: 12.00 € / person (adults) – 7.50 € / person (children 7-14)

Right next to the garden is the small church of Notre-Dame De La Garde and the Monument “l’Oiseau Blanc’. Unfortunately, the church was closed for renovations when we visited but you might be luckier!

Explore the small town

Although we spent most of our time exploring the cliffs and admiring the coastline, we also took a stroll around the town of Etretat itself. Etretat isn’t big but it is a nice-looking town!  While walking around town you can marvel at half-timber houses and charming little fishermen’s cottages. Take a break to browse one of the many boutique stores in town and stop for some fresh seafood in one of its many restaurants. We recommend lunch at La Marie Antoinette or, if you prefer to eat with a view, L’Huitriere.

The Clos Arsene Lupin

After looking at our photos, Etretat may seem familiar. Perhaps you’ve seen it in the 2021 Netflix Series ‘Lupin”. Parts of the series were filmed on the beach at Etretat, as the creator of the fictional character, Arsène Lupin, lived there himself.

Maurice Leblanc’s fine 19th-century villa, the Clos Arsène Lupin is now a museum and open to the public. Even if you’re not very familiar with the amusing character, it’s still a great place to visit to learn about the series and to take part in solving your own detective mystery!

How to get to Etretat?

The easiest way to reach Etretat is by car. It’s a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Paris. So, if you’re coming from Paris, I would suggest spending at least one night there.

Parking can be an issue in Etretat, especially during school holidays or high/peak seasons. It is preferable to use the Grand Val, Fréfossé and train station car parks. During the high season, parking is also open at the Route de Criquetot-l’Esneval (la Guezane) entrance and a footpath leads to the Chemin des Haules.  You can pay for your parking with the paybyphone app.

Where to stay in Etretat?

Etretat is a very popular escape from Paris, so we recommend booking well in advance, especially if you plan to travel during the weekend or the high season (outside of winter).

Hotel La Résidence Manoir De La Salamandre (Budget)

Located in Etretat, Manoir de la Salamandre is 50 metres from the sea and the cliffs and welcomes you into a historic townhouse. Set over 3 levels, Manoir de la Salamandre features comfortable rooms with an elegant decor, some including a four-poster bed. Some rooms feature a spa bath, others have exposed wooden beams. Check their latest prices here.

Hotel Le Rayon Vert (Mid-range)

Located on the seafront in Etretat, Hotel le Rayon Vert is housed in a 19th-century building and offers sea and cliffs views. Free WiFi is featured throughout the hotel. All rooms provide a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom fitted with a bath or a shower. Some rooms feature a hot tub and a sea view. Check their latest prices here.

Les Roches Blanches (apartment)

Set 100 metres from Etretat Beach in Étretat, this apartment features a terrace with sea views. The unit is 700 metres from Etretat’s Cliff. There is a seating area, a dining area and a kitchen, complete with an oven, a microwave and a toaster. There’s also a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom with a bath or shower. Check their latest prices here.

Dormy House (luxury)

Offering panoramic views of the cliffs of Etretat and the sea, this cliffside hotel is set within 4 hectares of gardens and offers direct access to the beach and an 18-hole golf course. The hotel has a restaurant and a billiards room. Guest rooms at Dormy House have a classic décor and are equipped with a TV and a telephone. Some of the rooms offer views of the sea. Check their latest prices here.

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