After a long and re-energizing night of sleep it was time to continue our road trip. Day 3 reserved only place to visit before driving back to Brussels. The village of Étretat is located by the coast around 30 km from Le Havre. Its population is only 1,800 people but it receives more than 1.5 million visitors a year.
The big attraction of Étretat are the gorgeous cliffs that surround the village beach. I must admit that it is definitively one of the most beautiful places I have been. The views are so fantastic that for many years painters such as Courbet and Monet visited the area in order to gain inspiration for their works.
The beach itself is not sand but cobble. The seagulls are present in great number flying around looking for food. The walkway is filled with restaurants and little cafés. I bought a delicious home-made ice cream of salted caramel – a Normandy delicacy. People wander around admiring the place with their families and dogs.
From the middle of the beach, to the left you can see the “falaise d’Aval” et “l’Aiguille”. This cliff is over 80 meters high. A magnanimous piece of rock that was violently cut millions of years ago. You have the option of either hike it to the top or, if the tide is low, walk by the sea towards the “Trou à l’Homme” – a tunnel that cuts through the rock.
To the right you can see the “falaise d’Amont” where a small church sits on its high point.
There was no time to climb the cliffs. I saw some pictures and the views seem to be spectacular. I did however walk along the beach. The views from the bottom are impressive. You will feel like a little ant facing a huge wall. By the way, marching on pebbles is not easy as your feet will sink.
I also strolled to the “Trou á l´Homme”. Before starting the path they remind you to check the tides. During the high tide the path to the tunnel becomes covered by the sea. The tunnel itself never gets covered with water, but if you are caught in high tide the only solution is wait 6 hours for the sea to rescind.
In the way you can see oyster farms – big holes in the middle of the corals. These rocks are covered with weed and it can be a bit slippery at some points. I observed a little boy who was carrying a big fish that probably got caught in the high tide. The whole experience is very pleasant and brings you close to nature recycling your lungs with the fresh sea air.
Étretat is a great vacation place. There are some hotels and the prices are not absurd (between 60 and 200 euros a night). We had dinner on a restaurant called “Le Salamander” where the food was great – and again not expensive at around 20 euro per person. I seriously consider going back there for a weekend when its warmer.
We left Étretat around 8:00 PM for the five-hour journey that took us back to Brussels.
Overall it was a great weekend. Besides the places the people were nice and helpful. Food was tasty and fresh. Mt Saint Michel is one of the most beautiful places I have been. The beaches of the region are both beautiful and carry unique historic characteristics. Étretat is a special village that combines the relaxation of the coast with a breath-taking natural beauty. The number of side trips you can do in Normandy are countless and I would advise anyone to have a tour around the region – but not to rush and spend a good week enjoying yourself.
Ah, thanks again for Felipe Lodi for allowing me to use his pictures! Cheers!