If you’ve been planning a trip to France then maybe you’ve been considering a day trip from Paris to Normandy, since the two regions are pretty close by. With only a few hours on the road or a quick ride on the TGV, why not visit Etretat and their famous white chalked cliffs?
But if you want to really discover the beauty of this place then stay a few days in one of the many nearby B&B and get yourself better acquainted with the lovely region of Normandy.
The Cliffs of Etretat.
People travel miles to see the famous Cliffs. Sure England has Dover, which might be fairly similar, but what makes Etretat so unique is the way the cliffs have eroded leaving natural arches standing in ocean. From the little coastal city of Etretat there are two walks you can do to get deeper in that surreal landscape. It’s fairly easy: turn right and climb towards the chapel or turn left and climb towards the arch. Both are worth the walk but if you only have time for one of them then left is the way to go!
Staying a few days with my father we decided to go right on the first day and while yes, the landscape is beautiful, we got stunned by how amazing the other side was when we went there on the second day.
Don’t be afraid: while the climb might seem a bit hard, the walk is actually very pleasant and quite easy, and the viewpoints are many, you’ll even get a chance to take in a few secluded beaches if you get to the end of your walk.
The three cliffs you might not want to miss are Aval, Amont and Manneporte. You will find here the pictures of said cliffs. Two are located on the West side of Etretat and one ( Amont ) is located on the East, proof again that it could be worth doing both walks.
But whatelse is there to do that would make it worth staying overnight?
Normandy and its food.
The food of course! You are in France after all and you wouldn’t be able to enjoy a visit as much if you weren’t getting a chance to try a few local specialities!
Normandy has got plenty of amazing flavours, and apples are kings in this region. Etretat doesn’t make exception and while in town you will get a chance to try some of their cider.
Try as well a “Tarte Tatin”, an apple dessert covered in Calva that will then be set on fire.
If apples aren’t exactly your thing then try the seafood! You are by the coast and needless to say you will find plenty of mussels and crabs to eat. Fresh “moules frites”, get your French on and order some!
Normandy is a foodie heaven, but if you want to try specialities from Etretat itself then we’d recommend two spots that offer very local treats: in the centre of town you will find a bakery that will get your sweet tooth going. They offer three specialities (pictured here) that we, of course, had to try. My favourite? The “Galet”, covered in white chocolate with a salty caramel layer and an apple crumble topped by a homemade cream, this pastry is actually lighter than it may seem and is quickly sold out.
Your other choice is to head to the nearby goat farm that offers daily visits and has a shop where you will be able to taste their amazing goat cheese, but also get a try on something a little special: chocolates made with goat milk. Not as sweet as regular chocolates, these are a hit and make for a great present to bring back home (if you don’t finish the box before that).
But once you’ve eaten your heart out, what else is there to do? You could get on a bike and head out…
Day trips from Etretat.
If you’ve decided to stay a few days in Etretat you could easily get on a bike or rent a car and get around. You’ll have a few choices there that will clearly keep you busy.
You could head to Le Havre, the city is only 30 minutes away from Etretat and boasts some of the finest modern architecture of the country.
Your other option is to head to the city of Fecamp and take the coastal road to get there. You’ll get a chance to make a few stops along the way in some lovely little towns, and if you like beaches there will be plenty.
With little interest into modern architecture we chose the second option and made our way to Fecamp. While in town it is worth stopping at the beach to observe the coast for a while but you might want to visit the Palais Benedictine. This Palace was built by Alexander The Great in 1863 after finding the recipe of a secret elixir in his archive, one that was created by the monk Dom Bernardo Vincelli in 1510 but of which the knowledge was lost. Alexander The Great succeeded in recreating this elixir and thus the Benedictine liquor was born.
The Palace hosts, in its cellar, the factory where the Benedictine is still made. You can visit both and get a taste of this very sweet liquor.
It’s well worth it! The visit costs 12 euros for adults.
On the way back to Etretat don’t forget to stop in the small city of Yport that offers lovely views on Fecamp and the white chalk cliffs as well as a lovely beach.
Where to stay in Etretat.
Located in the city of Etretat, this small hotel has a very “chalet” feel and is covered in wood. Be careful with the time you will check-in. Rooms are cozy and this might be the best budget option in the area.
Located on a cliff, you will get amazing views from your room if you get a chance to get a seaside room. The hotel has a direct access to the beach and offers views of the cliffs. It’s a bit pricey for a mid-range but worth it.
A pool, a fantastic view on the cliffs from the garden, what else can you ask for? The hotel was built in an old castle from the 19th century. Rooms are lovely and the hotel restaurant is famous for it’s amazing seafood.
For a little over 100USD (or even less depending of the season), this lovely hotel is located 7 km away from Etretat and included breakfast with the room. The owner is lovely and Le Clos is a charming building in a very quiet area. Rooms old fashion and spacious.
How to get there:
From Paris by car take the A13 that will direct you to Etretat. It should take you around 2h30 depending on traffic.
If you are taking the train be aware that there are no direct trains to Etretat, you will have to stop at Le Havre or Fecamp. From those two cities you can grab the bus number 24 that stops in Etretat.
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