The arches of Etretat are a sight to behold! But there’s more to this area than just rocks.
The Arches of Etretat is a natural wonder that has inspired many artists and travellers for centuries. They are located on the coast of Normandy, France, where the white chalk cliffs meet the blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The Arches of Etretat are formed by the erosion of the sea and the wind, creating three spectacular arches and a needle-like rock that rises 70 meters above the sea.
The three arches are named Porte d’Aval, Porte d’Amont, and Manneporte. Porte d'Aval is the most famous one, as it is accompanied by the Needle, which is said to be the hiding place of a treasure in a novel by Maurice Leblanc. Porte d'Amont is located on the opposite side of Etretat and offers a view of the chapel of Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde on the cliff-top. Manneporte is the largest and the most impressive arch, but it can only be seen from the sea or at low tide.
The Arches of Etretat have been painted by many famous artists, such as Claude Monet, Gustave Courbet, and Eugène Boudin. They captured the beauty and the changing colours of the cliffs and the sea under different light and weather conditions.
Here are five must-sees and dos when in the area of the Arches of Etretat, except for seeing the arches themselves:
Visit the Gardens of Etretat, a stunning landscape park that combines art and nature. You can admire the sculptures, the plants, and the views of the cliffs and the sea. The gardens are open all year round. The address is Avenue Damilaville, 76790 Etretat. Please keep in mind there is no parking on the grounds. If you are arriving by car, there are parking possibilities at Plage d'Etretat, Place de la Mairie, Place de Gaulle, Place de la gare at a 15 min walk from the Gardens or Parking du Grand Val at a 20 min walk from the Gardens.
Explore the Museum of Etretat, a charming museum showcasing Etretat's history and culture and its surroundings. The museum is close to the Gardens of Etretat. Here, you can learn about the fishing, farming, and tourism activities and the famous artists and writers who lived or visited Etretat. The museum contains paintings, photographs, objects, and documents. The address is Avenue Damilaville, 76790 Etretat.
Enjoy the Beach of Etretat, a beautiful pebble beach that offers a relaxing and refreshing experience. You can swim, sunbathe, play, or walk on the beach while admiring the views of the cliffs and the arches. The beach is also popular for surfing, sailing, kayaking, and other water sports. The beach is free to access and has lifeguards, showers, toilets, and restaurants nearby.
Discover the Chapel of Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde, a small chapel standing on the cliff above Etretat. The chapel was built in 1854 and rebuilt in 1950 after being destroyed during World War II. It is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, who is believed to protect the sailors and fishermen of Etretat. The chapel has simple but elegant architecture. The chapel is open to visitors from May to September and has no entrance fee.
Experience the Vélo-Rails Étretat Pays de Caux, a fun and original way to explore the countryside around Etretat. You can "bike" on an old railway track through fields, forests, villages, and bridges. The Vélo-Rails Étretat Pays de Caux is open from April to October. The adress is Place du 19 Mars 1962 - 76790 Les Loges
The best time to visit?
The best time to visit Étretat is from May to September when the weather is mild and sunny. However, you can also enjoy the beauty of Étretat in other seasons, as long as you dress warmly and bring an umbrella or raincoat in case of rain.
How to get here
By train from Paris
You can take a train from Paris St Lazare to Le Havre with SNCF, and then take a local bus, quite scenic, to Etretat. The train takes about 2 hours. The bus takes about an hour. You can buy your tickets online or at the train station.
From Paris to Etretat by car
The distance is about 220 km and takes about 3 hours, depending on the traffic. You will need to pay tolls on the way. Just let Google Maps help you out. To have a nicer trip and to avoid motorways, just turn on "Avoid Motorways" in the Google Maps settings.
The nearest airport to Étretat is Le Havre-Octeville Airport, which is about 30 km away.