The photo above was an entrant in our French photo competition and the lady who sent it said “It needs no introduction”. In many ways she was right because this fabulous image is of Étretat in the Pays de Caux region of Upper Normandy (Haute Normandie), famous for its cliffs, giant formations in the sea, three natural arches and a pointed offshore “needle”.
For centuries the stunning view has attracted writers and artists keen to capture its magnificent qualities – Claude Monet and Eugène Boudin, amongst many others, loved to paint here. Guy de Maupassant wrote “The Englishman of Étretat” (L’Anglais d’Étretat) after spending much of his childhood in the area. So in love with the views was he, that in later life he built a house in Etretat in what is now rue Guy-de-Maupassant.
The three arches which formed over many thousands of years are known Porte d’Aval, Porte Amont and Manneport. The latter can only be seen at low tide when you’ll also be able to see the emergence of the 18th century oyster beds for which the town was famous. Apparently Queen Marie Antoinette was much enamoured of the Etretat oysters which were not natural to the area and had to be transferred by ship from their birth place in Brittany to mature in the Etretat coastal waters. The natural springs in the area plus the salt water were said to give the oysters a delicate and unique taste.
Also famous in Etretat is the “trou à l’homme” – a hole in the rock said to have been created during a shipwreck in 1792. The town is a popular tourist destination with many pretty half-timbered houses, quaint cafés, a cliff top chapel and a charming chateau.
Photo Etretat Cliffs Normandy, by Kathryn Fowler (entry in our French photo completion Jan/Feb 2014)
Video of Etretat, glorious sunsets, beautiful scenery, luscious views…