脡tretat, the city nestled between the cliffs of Normandy

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Valery Aloyants
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wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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A short distance from Rouen (read also: What to see in Rouen), on the north north east coast of the Normandia, in the department of the Seine-Maritime there is a town of 1500 inhabitants, its name is Etretat.

It is a small gem with blue roofs, protected by impressive cliffs, those cliffs that are the attraction for the many tourists who during the summer come to walk the paths overlooking the sea. 脡tretat is part of the alabaster coast and the panorama follows the one that can be found up to Le Tr茅port. This whole part of the coast is characterized by natural limestone cliffs, white chalk cliffs that leave you speechless. The coast is constantly eroding but near 脡tretat this phenomenon is felt less as the gypsum, called Turonian, is much more resistant.


View of the Amont cliff

Despite this, the work that water and wind have done over the years is clearly evident, a plaster arch is also singular (Manneporte) 90 meters high that can be glimpsed on the d'Aval cliff.

What to see in 脡tretat? How to go to the cliffs?

脡tretat is really a very small town, just think that you can easily walk around in 5/10 minutes. When I was gathering information before leaving for my itinerary in Normandy, I was worried about finding parking and that it wasn't too far from the place to sleep. In retrospect I would say there is no reason to worry.

In 脡tretat there is a large car park on the west side of the city which is perhaps 300 meters from the center, probably even less. If the idea is to stop and sleep in 脡tretat, I recommend that you leave your car in this parking lot for the whole night, it becomes free (if I'm not mistaken) from 20.00 pm until 9.00 am the next morning. My hotel Hotel Le Rayon Vert (I recommend you to stay in this hotel) it was facing the sea just a stone's throw from the parking lot.



La 脡tretat beach there are pebbles, pebbles and more pebbles. Like most beaches in Normandy, it suffers greatly from high and low tide. There are two high tide and two low tide peaks every day. During the latter the water is far from the coast and you can take a ride under the cliffs. Need be very careful because we are still under rocks that can crumble. Walking among algae and stagnant water you can see the cliffs from another point of view and you are impressed.

However, attention must be paid to do not underestimate the trend of the tides, the water rises very quickly and it is better not to move too far from the town of 脡tretat. In any case, near the beginning of the climb to the Aval cliff, near the ladder leading to the beach there is a board where the times of high and low tide are described for the entire current month. Throwing an eye on it is a must. For the sake of completeness of information, a prevention system is also set up during the summer with two people monitoring.

In itself, the village of 脡tretat is characteristic but does not offer much. However, this is not the characteristic of this beautiful stretch of the Norman coast.

The D'Aval cliff and the d'Amont cliff

The two cliffs overlooking the sea are certainly the main feature that makes this place unique in its kind. On both it is possible to go up and admire the view. On D'Aval crag you go up on foot while on crag d'Amont you have the choice between walk and car, as it is also reached by a road.


If you are short on time and you have to choose which of the two famous cliffs to climb, I absolutely recommend you climb the d'Aval cliff. If you look towards the sea, the cliff of Aval is the one on your left towards the famous chalk arch.



The crag d'Aval at night

How to climb the D'Aval crag

To get to the top there is a rather large path that is NOT infinity on the sea and, therefore, there are no problems regarding safety. On the other hand, the cliffs have no protections, you must always be careful where you put your feet to avoid tripping. The climb is steep only in the first part, then it goes over and becomes more pleasant. Turning around you will have a spectacular view over the whole country with the Amont cliff as a backdrop. Really quaint.

The path continues and passes over the cliff supported by the arch Manneporte. From this point, looking westwards you can see a further particular formation of the cliffs: theNeedle, 70 meters of rock in the shape of an obelisk.

It goes without saying that here you have to give vent to your photographic passion, also because it was also built on the d'Aval cliff a golf course. Do you want to miss the opportunity to take a photo: golf course + cliff + 脡tretat and other cliff in the background? I think not ...

The golf course on the cliff

The D'Amont cliff: on foot or by car

The show is still beautiful but not as good as that of the d'Aval cliff. Perhaps the fact that it can be reached by car and therefore more accessible makes it less fascinating. You can go up with a staircase that starts from the village of 脡tretat or use the asphalted road Damilaville Avenue leading to the church on the top, the Chapelle Notre-Dame de la Garde.

Church on the Amont cliff

脡tretat and impressionism

I would like to close this article on 脡tretat with a little hint of how these landscapes were subject of numerous works by Impressionist artists of the past. The same Many he painted this stretch of the Normandy coast.


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