"A perfect weekend in Etretat" Top 5 Page for this destination Étretat by aemilys

Étretat Travel Guide: 112 reviews and 373 photos

Holiday weekend in Etretat

November 11 is a holiday in France so I've got the day off and a 3-day weekend. This is my last chance to get out of the city until next year so I've decided to revisit Etretat. I've been before but never got any pictures so this time I will take lots.

Don't care if it rains, all I want to do is stand on the shore and look out on the ocean. I may also hunt for that elusive perfect galet. Then I will eat some seafood and I think that's enough for one weekend...

Just back and what a magnificent weekend it was! I even got carried away and did some hiking. After that I was transformed into Emily the intrepid marine biologist and I got some excellent shots of all sorts of interesting marine life. And what about bird watching? Well, I did that too. What a blast!

If you liked Giverny you will love Etretat

According to art historians it was in Etretat that Monet learned the importance of changing light, so essential to his later cathedral paintings.

He is but one of the many artists, musicians, and writers to have fallen under the spell of Etretat. Guy de Maupassant and Jacques Offenbach both had homes here; Delacroix, Corot, Boudin and Courbet painted here - among many others - and Marice Leblanc set his famous novel l'Aiguille Creuse right here in Etretat.

There is even a song about Etretat by Charles Aznavour. It is called Les Galets d'Etretat and of course it is in French.

La mer a Etretat,
Lorsque l'hiver fait rage,
A la beaute sauvage
Que je retrouve en toi
En vague se dechaine
Ecumante de haine
Mais belle malgre tout

Et toi comme la mer
Furieuse sous l'orage
Tu broies sur ton passage
Ce qui gene tes pas
Ton coeur est plus amer
Que l'eau morte des plages
Et froid comme sont froids
Les galets d'Etretat
Les galets d'Etretat

La mer a Etretat
Est sans couleur precise
Tantot bleue, tantot grise
Comme tes yeux parfois
Tranquille ou en fureur
Elle court au rivage
Qu'elle frole ou saccage
Au gres de son humeur

Et toi comme la mer
Furieuse sous l'orage
Tu broies sur ton passage
Ce qui gene tes pas
Ton coeur est plus amer
Que l'eau morte des plages
Et froid comme sont froids
Les galets d'Etretat
Les galets d'Etretat

Mais saurais-je jamais
Quel est ton vrai visage
Celui fait a l'image
De mon espoir en toi
Ou l'autre plus secret
Fuyant comme un mirage
Qui eclairait pour moi
Les galets d'Etretat

Facts, figures, and organizing your visit

Etretat is a small town (population 1,615) located on the coast of Haute Normandie in the Seine Maritime department (76). It is one of the rare locations in France that is not reachable by train but don't worry, there is bus service from Le Havre and Breaute as well as Fecamp. Of course if you have a car all the better.

Once you're in Etretat it's easy if you think of the town as four distinct zones. As you stand on Le Perrey (the concrete boardwalk on the beach) and you look out to the sea, the Amont Cliff with Notre Dame de la Garde is to your right, the Aval Cliff which looks like "an elephant plunging it's trunk into the sea" is on your left, the town is behind you and the beach is at your feet.

And thanks to JLBG I now know that the name of the "Bird: Oie des moissons (harvest goose) Anser fabalis" the "Plant: (Wild) Chou potager (cabbage) Brassica oleracea" and an alternative name for "Slot machines are colloquially called "bandits manchots" (single handed bandits)!"

Have fun in Etretat!

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:A wonderful vacation place
  • Cons:There are none
  • In a nutshell:Perfection
  • Last visit to Étretat: Nov 2005
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (34)

Comments (26)

  • LauraWest's Profile Photo
    Nov 25, 2007 at 5:21 PM

    Happy Birthday, Emily! How wonderful to discover you on vt! Will return again to your excellent pages...from Laura,in USA

  • Segolily's Profile Photo
    Sep 1, 2007 at 8:38 PM

    Emily, thanks for visiting my Etretat page. I had so looked forward to my visit. Perhaps in another mood "romantic" would have been the right word. It was marvelous nonetheless.

  • DAO's Profile Photo
    Jul 1, 2007 at 5:51 AM

    Thank you for all the helpful comments you have left. I am better informed now. All the best.

  • Jun 17, 2007 at 8:37 AM

    Thank you for the nice memories you brought me back. Greetings from Thessaloniki. Dimitris

  • ryuhome's Profile Photo
    Oct 26, 2006 at 8:00 AM

    I'll be visiting etretat in Nov. and I can't find much info in any tour books. Your site is a wealth of info, from hiking to food. I'm glad I ran into this and I can't wait to be there! Merci beaucoup!

  • royalempress's Profile Photo
    Sep 4, 2006 at 5:12 PM

    Wow, great page. We missed it all... A long drive from honfleur to just have to turn around. My wife is a 1st grade teacher so we must travel in the summer and fight the crowds..l. Great Pictures. Mike

  • Jim_Eliason's Profile Photo
    Sep 2, 2006 at 4:06 AM

    Nice tips!

  • chbuchie's Profile Photo
    Aug 9, 2006 at 4:27 AM

    well finally Etretat has a top 5 , congrats on your first spot !!

  • deecat's Profile Photo
    May 31, 2006 at 6:28 AM

    What a marvelous account of your long weekend in Etretat. I especially enjoyed the restaurants, the shopping, and the architecture of the homes in the quaint town. Thanks for this lovely tour.

  • icunme's Profile Photo
    May 8, 2006 at 11:14 AM

    Wonderful tour of this charming town - great photos and tips - will return again. Ciao, Carol

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