Étretat and Fécamp, two towns located on the Côte d'Albâtre, one of the jewels of the Normandy coast. Their major asset: high cliffs sculpted by erosion, the most famous of which are in Étretat. The spectacle they offer is one that you must have seen at least once in your life. Head for Normandy!
Along the Alabaster Coast
The Alabaster Coast extends over 130 kilometers along the Channel in the Seine-Maritime department, between Le Havre and Le Tréport, on the edge of the Pays de Caux. This is where Normandy offers its most impressive landscapes of cliffs, which rise up to a hundred meters.
But what is alabaster doing around here? The dissolution by rainwater of the limestone that the cliffs contain gives a particular color to the sea, hence the nickname of the coast. The other mineral element which constitutes these natural walls is the flint, which allows them to hold on to the passage of time. However, it is not uncommon for pieces of rock to fall here and there ...
Like the impressionist painters before us (Monet, Sisley, Boudin, Pissarro…), we remain fascinated by these cliffs, especially when we see them along their length from a beach or the sea, aboard a boat.
Delivery charges walks or hikes on foot or on horseback are also done from above. This is the opportunity to discover their fauna (seagulls, gulls, fulmars, cormorants, peregrine falcons…) and their flora (woolly groundsel, sea cabbage, red fescue, gorse…). Naturalist guides are at your disposal.
Another remarkable aspect of this coast: the valleuses. These are faults in the cliffs formed by streams of various sizes. These faults, which go from a simple path to the wide valley, are as much access to the sea, some presenting a wild and protected aspect, while others have been taken advantage of by man over the centuries to found ports then seaside towns.
About fifteen kilometers apart, Fécamp and Étretat are representative of these two types of localities.
Étretat, in the hollow of the cliffs
Located at the end of a wooded valley, the small town ofEtretat full of charm. This former fishing village - who ran aground their boats on the beach for lack of a port - has become a seaside town during the XNUMXth century. It has been made famous by writers and artists such as Alphonse Karr, Guy de Maupassant, Jacques Offenbach, Claude Monet, Gustave Courbet or Maurice Leblanc.
This novelist is particularly honored in town. His house has become a kind of museum dedicated to him, as well as to his famous character, Arsène Lupin (this site is called Le Clos Lupine). It is in the Aiguille, one of the geological treasures of Etretat that Leblanc lodged his gentleman burglar (L'Aiguille creuse is the title of one of his novels).
Ah the cliffs d'Etretat! We never tire of admiring them. To the west, you have the Manneporte (a large arch) and the Aval cliff with its base the Arch accompanied by the Aiguille. To the east, it is the Amont cliff and its small gate.
Accessible on foot from the pebble beach (very blunt, coming from the cliffs) of the city, these sites become traps when the sea rises (be sure to inquire about the tide times before setting off). Only the Manhole, a cavity that crosses the Arch allows you not to be swept away by the currents thanks to a refuge there. You can also cross it, or follow the cliffs, in a sea kayak, paddle or mini catamaran (www.voilesetgalets.com).
At the top of the Aval cliff is a large golf course, while at the top of the Amont cliff stands a chapel from the 1950s transformed into an information site for the coastal conservatory, as well as an arrow-shaped monument (24 m) which pays homage to Nungesser and Coli, the first aviators to have attempted to cross the Atlantic in 1927, before Lindbergh. They disappeared at sea.
From the cliffs, we have a wonderful view of the sea, as well as of the valley where Étretat is located. This small and green valley is very easy to discover aboard a cyclo-draisine which follows the 6 km old railway from Les Loges (www.lafrancevuedurail.fr/ttepac). Here, the typically Norman landscapes, where obviously graze beautiful cows, are delightful.
In town, we appreciate the streets lined with pretty houses and villas most of them built by alternating brick and cut flint, a specialty of the region. This characteristic is found in Fécamp.
Fécamp, the call of the sea
French Feneuvas left for months for campaigns on the outskirts of Canada.
L & rsquoJacques et au herring (other seafood found on the stalls and tables of Fécamp: lobster, gray shrimp, winkles, whelks, sole, turbot, brill, plaice, mackerel, sea trout, cuttlefish, whiting, curry comb).
Today, the harbor basins accommodate a lot of pleasure craft and old rigs. One of them, the Mil'Pat, makes sea trips to Étretat for tourists, during which you are invited to get your hands on the ropes, sails and the helm. Other boats also offer nautical trips.
At Trinidad and the remains of Palace of the Dukes of Normandy, two important medieval sites to which is added another palace, that of Alexandre Le Grand… an industrialist who, in the middle of the XNUMXth century, created the liqueur Benedictine. This imposing Gothic and Renaissance-inspired building contains collections of objects and works of art from these periods, some of them from the Benedictine monastery of Fécamp.
Among the treasures of the monks was the recipe for an elixir that inspired the entrepreneur. Besides being a museum, the palace is the unique production site for the liqueur, which is made from 27 plants and spices. His visit ends with tastings.
Like ÉDame de Salut - which houses many sailors' votive offerings - as well as a semaphore, blockhouses from the Atlantic Wall and five wind turbines.
A little further...
Between the Channel and the Seine, the green lands of Pays de Cauxare àmasures, a type of Cauchois farm including orchards where apples grow, which are made into cider, but also cherries, pears and plums ...
Going north-east, you continue your downhill from Valéen-Caux, Dieppe, Le Tréport, before arriving in Bay of the Somme.
In the south-west of the country, we find the André Malraux Museum of Modern Art, which presents rich impressionist collections.
You can then cross the Seine estuary to get to Honfleur, famous small port succeeded by Deauville, Trouville, Cabourg ...
For more information, see our Normandy online guide
How to get there ?
Train. Buses go to Beuzeville and Le Havre. Bus connections also between Étretat and Fécamp.
Highway. A29 (Amiens-Le Havre), Bolbec or FéCaen exits), Tancarville or Fécamp exits.
Or sleep ?
Find your hotel
Where to eat ?
- Dormy House: a good restaurant, as well as a bar, and also a beautiful view of Étretat. Also rooms with a view of Etretat and the Amont cliff.
- Restaurant du Golf d'Étretat: you don't need to be a golf client to enjoy a pleasant meal at this address, which offers you a breathtaking view of the cliffs and the sea.
- Chez Nounoutte: facing the basins of the port of Fécamp, you can taste ultra fresh seafood prepared with simplicity. An address much appreciated by Fécampois.
- Pasquier cider: àde-vie house.
- Fromagerie Le Valaine: on a height of Etretat live pretty goats and a superb billy goat in the enclosure of a farm adorned with a beautiful little XNUMXth century manor with a view of the sea ... All that is sold on site is made from the farm's goat milk: cheeses, ice creams, chocolates. We also make cider here.