Photographer's Note

The Alabaster coast before storm, Etretat

The highlight of any trip to Etretat is a walk along the clifftops to view the fabulous white cliffs with natural giant archways that reach out into the sea. Paths rise to the cliffs from the pebble beach. In high season, particularly July and August, these clifftop paths can be very busy.

Be very cautious when walking near to the edge of the cliffs, they can be fragile and dangerous due to erosion. If you walk along the beaches then do check tide times as walkers can become trapped by the rising tide.

Étretat, another 20km west towards Le Havre, is a very different kettle of fish to Fécamp. Here the alabaster cliffs are at their most spectacular – their arches, tunnels and the solitary "needle" will doubtless be familiar from tourist brochures – and the town itself has grown up simply as a pleasure resort. There isn't even a port of any kind: the seafront consists of a sweeping unbroken curve of concrete above a shingle beach.

Étretat is a very pretty little place. The old wooden market halles still dominate the main square, the ground floor now converted into souvenir shops, but the beams of the balcony and roof are bare and ancient. As soon as you step onto the beach you'll see the cliff formations to either side. To the west, on the Falaise d'Aval, a straightforward if precarious walk leads up the crumbling side of the cliff, with lush lawns and pastures to the inland side and German fortifications on the shore side extending to the point where the turf abruptly stops, occasionally ripped by the latest fall of cliff. From the windswept top you can see further rock formations and possibly even glimpse Le Havre, but the views back to the village sheltered in the valley, and the Falaise d'Amont on its eastern side – which Maupassant compared to an elephant dipping its trunk into the ocean – are what stick in the memory. The cliff itself presents an idyllic rural scene, with a gentle footpath winding up the green hillside to the little chapel of Notre-Dame. (Source: franceforvisitors)

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Additional Photos by George Rumpler (Budapestman) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 8900 W: 3 N: 20435] (82620)
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