A Guide to the Best Things to Do in Étretat, France (with hidden gems)

What Does a Guide to the Best Things to Do in Etretat, France Look Like?

Famous for its stunning white cliffs and picturesque landscapes, Étretat is quite the charming coastal gem in Normandy, France. There are plenty of activities you can do, including art, history and gastronomy experiences. It’s also a fantastically Instagrammable place, for the photography lovers.

Hi! I’m Anya, founder of the travel blog Stop Going to Paris which focuses on underrated cities in Europe. I’m a passionate traveler but above all, a passionate adventurer always looking for the hidden gems that deserve more love.

After 10 years and 70+ destinations, I can help you plan your European trip: book a call with me. It includes a full itinerary with unique destinations, transportation, accommodation and activities.

Fun fact, I live in… drumroll… Paris! That’s why the name of the blog is funny.

Explore the Famous Cliffs of Étretat

Let’s start with what Étretat is best known for—the magnificent cliffs. The dramatic white chalk formations rise majestically from the sea, offering the most breathtaking views thanks to the contrast of blue water against the white cliffs. The most iconic of these cliffs are the Falaise d’Aval and Falaise d’Amont, each boasting natural arches that frame the horizon.

To get the best experience, take a hike along the cliff paths. The walk is relatively easy and offers numerous vantage points where you can capture some truly Instagram-worthy shots. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even descend to the beach below and explore the cliffs from a different angle.

Etretat, by Anya Rahmoune from Stop Going to Paris

Discover the Hidden Treasures of the Town

While the cliffs steal the spotlight, the town of Étretat itself has a lot of charm as well, with narrow streets lined with half-timbered houses and cozy cafes. For a touch of history, visit Notre-Dame de la Garde, a small chapel perched on a cliff. The chapel’s simplicity is part of its beauty, it becomes a quiet retreat with stunning sea views.

Chapelle Notre-Dame de la Garde, Étretat by © Raimond Spekking / CC BY-SA 4.0

Visit the Stunning Beaches

Étretat’s beaches are the perfect places to unwind after a day of exploring. The pebble beach, Plage d’Étretat, stretches below the cliffs, providing a unique beach experience. Be wary that the water is very cold, even during summer! But so worth it.

For a more secluded experience, head to Plage du Tilleul. This hidden gem offers a sandy retreat away from the crowds, ideal for a peaceful afternoon by the sea.

Etretat, by Anya Rahmoune from Stop Going to Paris

Enjoy the Outdoor Activities

Étretat’s natural beauty makes it a playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Try paragliding over the cliffs for a bird’s-eye view of the landscape—it’s an unforgettable thrill. If you prefer something less daring, rent a kayak or paddleboard to explore the coast from the water.

Golfers will appreciate the Golf d’Étretat, a course that offers stunning sea views from every hole. It’s considered one of the most beautiful courses in France.

Delight in the Local Cuisine

French cuisine is world-renowned, and Étretat offers its own delicious contributions. Seafood is a highlight here, with fresh catches like mussels, oysters, and scallops being a staple. Try the local specialty, moules-frites (mussels and fries), at one of the seaside restaurants.

Don’t forget to sample Normandy’s famous cheeses and apple-based dishes. A visit to a local creperie for a traditional galette (savory buckwheat crepe) is a must!

Etretat, by Anya Rahmoune from Stop Going to Paris

Enjoy Art and Culture in Étretat

Étretat has long been a muse for artists and writers. The town’s scenery inspired works by Claude Monet and Gustave Courbet, among others. Visit the Maison Maurice Leblanc, the home of the famous writer who created Arsène Lupin, to learn about the local literary history.

Art lovers should also check out the Jardins d’Étretat, an art installation in a garden setting with contemporary sculptures that play with the natural surroundings.

Burnbabyburn, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Experience Local Festivals and Events

Time your visit to coincide with one of Étretat’s vibrant festivals for a truly immersive experience. The Fête de la Mer (Sea Festival) celebrates the town’s maritime heritage with parades, music, and seafood feasts.

In the summer, the Festival d’Étretat features a range of cultural events, including concerts, theater performances, and art exhibitions. It’s a wonderful way to experience the local culture and enjoy the festive atmosphere.

Take a Historical Tour

Étretat is a painters and writers town, and there are plenty of ways to dive into that. Start with the Clos Arsène Lupin, a museum dedicated to the fictional gentleman thief created by Maurice Leblanc. It’s a quirky, immersive experience that brings the character to life.

Explore the World War II bunkers scattered along the cliffs, offering a sobering glimpse into the town’s wartime history. Guided tours are available and provide fascinating insights into the region’s role during the war.

Gordito1869, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Go on Day Trips from Étretat

Étretat’s location makes it a great base for exploring Normandy. Take a day trip to the historic city of Rouen, known for its Gothic cathedral and medieval architecture. Another option is Honfleur, a picturesque harbor town with narrow streets and colorful houses.

For history enthusiasts, a visit to the D-Day landing beaches is a must. These sites are a short drive away and offer a poignant reminder of the region’s role in World War II.

Tips for Visiting Étretat

To make the most of your trip to Étretat, here are a few tips:

  • Visit Off-Peak: Étretat can get crowded in the summer, so consider visiting in the shoulder seasons of spring or fall.
  • Dress in Layers: The weather can be unpredictable, so bring layers to stay comfortable.
  • Parking: Parking in Étretat can be tricky, especially in high season. Use the paid lots on the outskirts of town and walk in.
  • Stay Hydrated: If you’re hiking the cliffs, bring plenty of water and snacks.

Final Thoughts

Étretat is a magical destination that captivates with its natural beauty, rich history, and vibrant culture. It’s a pretty coastal jewel, with beautiful cliffs, fantastic local dishes, and a rich artistic legacy. You can add it to your bucket list with no hesitation!

A Guide to the Best Things to Do in Etretat, France


What is the best time to visit Étretat?

The best time to visit Étretat is during the shoulder seasons of spring (April to June) and fall (September to October) when the weather is pleasant and the crowds are smaller.

Are the cliffs of Étretat safe to hike?

Yes, the cliffs are safe to hike, but it’s important to stay on designated paths and keep away from the edges, especially in windy conditions.

Can I swim at Étretat’s beaches?

Yes, you can swim at Étretat’s beaches, but be aware that the pebble beach can be uncomfortable for bare feet. Water shoes are recommended.

How do I get to Étretat from Paris?

You can reach Étretat from Paris by train to Le Havre or Breaute-Beuzeville, followed by a bus or taxi. The journey takes around 2.5 to 3 hours.

What local foods should I try in Étretat?

Be sure to try the seafood, particularly mussels and oysters, as well as local cheeses and apple-based dishes. Galettes and crepes are also popular choices.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *