The chalk cliffs of Etretat with their natural arches are known worldwide. They have often been the inspiration for many artists, such as Eugène Boudin and Claude Monet.
This is the most beautiful place of the Norman coast of the English Channel. The alabaster coast (Cote d’Albatre) stretches for a hundred kilometers from Dieppe to Etretat and beyond. It is a white wall along the Atlantic Ocean, which has several gaps. Each of them is either town, or a small village – depending on width of the gap.
Etretat is a tourist farming village in the Seine-Maritime department in the Haute-Normandie region. It is a small town with a population of just 1,640. This is the most spectacular place, because here you will see the magnificent arches, carved by nature and which can be seen from the town, the Porte d’Aval, and the Porte d’Amont. The third is called the Manneporte and it is the biggest one, which is not seen from the town. Close to one of them there is a graceful lonely cliff “needle” rising for 70 meters above the water. The well-known saying of the XIX century writer Alphonse Karr well describes this place: “If I were to show the sea to a friend for the first time, I would choose Etretat”. Guy de Maupassant described these cliffs in one of his stories: “extraordinary type of rocks – round with a through hole. It was like a huge figure of an elephant’s trunk plunged into the waves.”
The town is also famous thanks to the pilots Charles Nungesser and François Coli. In 1927, using a single-engine biplane “White Bird” (L’Oiseau Blanc), they tried to make the first non-stop flight from Paris to New York. But this transatlantic flight wasn’t successful – they didn’t get to New York. The last time they were seen was above the reef, where the memorial stands now. Unfortunately, during World War II the monument was destroyed. A new taller monument and museum were constructed here in 1963.
Since the Middle Ages, there is a tradition here, called “Blessing of the sea.” According to the belief that the fisherman, who was caught by storm in a sea, could be saved only if at least one of the monks prayed for him on the coast. Therefore people of Etretat pray for all fishermen during the Mass. So close to the sea, there is a charming medieval church (Notre-Dame de la Garde).
Any tourist will appreciate this town at its true worth – cozy streets, wooden covered market with fancy tower, souvenir shops, seafood restaurants where you can try the popular dish of these places – Moules à la Normande – mussels in sour cream. You can also entertain yourself and visit the excellent pebble beach as well as a golf club with fields, located just above the sea. These smooth plateaus are wonderfully suited for walks. Here you will find incredible views of the surrounding of the village and marine landscapes.