You know those gorgeous chalk cliffs in Northern France everyone raves about? The ones I added to my bucket list ages ago but never had the courage to drive all the way up there to actually see them?
Well, this summer, I did just that.
That’s quite the spectacular view, right?
The cliffs are made of white chalk, which explains their pristine, immaculate face, which can get as high as 350 feet. Up until the mid-19th century, the village was lived off a healthy , profitable fishing industry—that is until the Paris elite decided to spend the warmer months of the year in this coastal resort town. That’s when Étretat morphed into one of the most sought-after hotspots* in the country. Even today, Parisians still come and spend les vacances d’août in homes that have been in their family for generations and generations, right here in Étretat.
* The irony is not lost on me that one would use “hotspot” to describe the otherwise notoriously chilly Normandy coast. But whatever.
When I say “the cliffs”, what I’m actually referring to is the three three natural arches and the pointed needle towering over the colloquially named Alabaster Coast along the English Channel, a dreamy setting that inspired Impressionist painters like mastermind Monet (he was a big fan of Normandy, apparently). Carved by intensive erosion over the course of millenniums, the arches are now one of the most famous natural attractions in France and the topic of many folklore legends.
Étretat, Normandy – Good To Know
- Normandy in August is perhaps the worst time of the year to visit. The weather is great, yes, but every city and village are taken over by French people on holiday; therefore, accommodation is either hard to come by or outrageously expensive.
- There are two cliffs you can actually go on – Falaise d’Aval, and Falaise d’Amont.
- The former, Aval, is the large arch with the pointy rock, and accessible by foot from the beach (first four pictures).
- The latter, Amont, is the one that overlooks the village and the first cliff (last picture). It’s accessible by car.
- Both cliffs are free of charge.