Have you heard of the gorgeous French village of Étretat? I kept seeing the spectacular scenery of Étretat on Instagram. With its stunning white chalk cliffs and famous rock formations, I knew I had to go. Perhaps you have watched the popular French Netflix series, Lupin, the suspenseful show about the charming gentleman thief? Season 1 ends in Étretat, this small town on the coast of Normandy.
Étretat is a non-negotiable stop on any itinerary through Normandy, France. This article suggests some other great stops but, quite frankly, it will be Étretat that steals your heart.
Where Are The White Cliffs Of Étretat?
The white cliffs of Étretat are found on the Alabaster Coast of France. Facing the English Channel, this 80-mile stretch of striking coastline is sure to please. The natural beauty of these white cliffs that soar as high as 300 feet is unforgettable.
How To Get To The Town Of Étretat
Although Étretat is close enough to Paris for a day trip by car, I would suggest planning a weekend in Normandy. Follow the A13 from Paris for the three-and-a-half-hour drive to Étretat.
Étretat is also accessible by train and bus. From Paris, take the train to Le Havre. Find Bus #13 at the station, which takes about an hour to arrive at Étretat. Check the schedules carefully for return times depending on where you are staying.
Things To Do In Étretat
It’s easy to get to the soaring cliffs and white pebble beaches of Étretat. Stroll through the small town investigating the souvenir shops and bistros, and after a few minutes, you’ll be on the beach. With ice cream or a glass of cold local cider in hand, find a spot on the pebbles and listen to the lovely sound of the sea washing over them. Don’t pop a pebble in your pocket, as it is forbidden. From the beach, admire the gorgeous limestone formations of arches and the Needle Rock (the Aiguille).
There are cliffs to the north and to the south. I wanted to explore both pathways and clifftops, knowing each would provide their own special delights. To the north, it’s a ten-minute climb following stairs and a path to reach the top of the cliff of Amont (la Falaise d’Amont) where the darling church, Chapelle Notre-Dame de la Garde, has been perched for over 160 years. There is a sense of wildness on top of the Amont cliff with the tall grass blowing and the panoramic views of the Needle Rock playing hide-and-go-seek with the limestone arch (Porte d’Aval).
Pro Tip: The top of the cliff of Amont can be accessed by car or by the train that departs from in front of the tourist office.
Once back on the beach, walk to the south side to climb the cliff of Aval (la Falaise d’Aval). This steep, winding path has viewpoints to stop at and a few benches to rest on. The proximity to the Needle Rock and the Porte d’Aval make for stunning views and different perspectives. Enjoy the crash of the surf audible against the limestone cliffs, the blue hues of the English Channel, and the salty breeze blowing off the surf. Have a camera in hand? You’ll be in heaven!
If you have plenty of time, plan to witness a sunrise or sunset while visiting Étretat.
Are you up for a museum visit? The Lupin series ended Season 1 in Étretat, France, because Maurice Leblanc, the French author who wrote the Lupin books, lived in Étretat. His granddaughter bought his house and made it into a museum, Le Clos Lupin Museum.
Pro Tip: You can find other locations from the Lupin series here.
Interesting Facts About Étretat, France
Étretat’s light and magnificent natural landscapes have provided inspiration for writers and painters over the centuries. Gustave Courbet and Eugène Boudin both painted canvases at Étretat. Claude Monet, the founder of Impressionist painting, spent a great deal of time capturing Étretat’s beauty in over 50 paintings.
Pro Tip: If you can’t make it to Étretat on your next trip to France, be sure to find one of Monet’s masterpieces of Étretat at the Musee d’Orsay in Paris.
As you walk along the beach between the two cliffs, stop and read the signs recounting some of Étretat’s history. During WWII, the Germans built the Atlantic Wall and buried more than 1,500 mines on this very beach in order to make an Allied landing here impossible. 19 concrete bunkers were built between the two cliffs. It’s a sobering historical reminder of what this tiny fishing village has endured.
Where To Eat In Étretat
There are plenty of bistros and places to find a galette or a simple quiche in Étretat, France. Alternately, bring a picnic blanket and purchase some local delicacies for a meal on the beach.
Feel like indulging in some fabulous French gastronomy? Try these local restaurants: