VIDÉO: The cliffs of Étretat, Seine Maritime, Normandie, France. NO FILTERS.
I will include a know-before-you-go full video, step-by-step logistics, what to bring and expect, a hiking trail map with personal insights, and all of the details to maximize your visit to Étretat in my Normandy guide. I learned a lot from this visit and will be sharing my insider tips with you. Add this location to your France travel bucket list – I would 100% recommend the experience.
Formerly a modest fishing village, Étretat became a renowned seaside resort in the 19th century. Located north of Le Havre and about 45-minutes east of Honfleur, the town is on the Alabaster coast, part of the Pays de Caux. Its white chalk cliffs and greyish pebble beaches have made it one of the places of international tourism. Painters like Gustave Courbet, Eugène Boudin, and even Claude Monet contributed to its publicity. Writers like Maupassant and Gustave Flaubert were loyal to the place.
The cliffs of Étretat are limestone and the color is unique to this specific area. Underground rivers next to the cliffs create erosion and are the reason for the unique arches, Porte d’Amont, the Porte d’Aval, and the Manneporte.
In the 18th century, the city cultivated and refined oysters for Marie Antoinette, and the baskets of oysters were delivered overnight to Versailles to be eaten fresh in the morning. Today, the remains of the oyster beds are visible at the bottom of the downstream cliff.
During the first half of the century, there were between twenty-five and thirty fishing boats on the perrey. However, from 1850, their number decreased sharply to only one unit. Clinques, traditional clinker boats, sailed to Dieppe to fish for herring in late autumn, and the village was home to 250–300 sailors. The only activity that remained flourishing in Étretat until the end of the 19th century was mackerel fishing , which was practiced during the three summer months.