Saturday, 9 August 2014


Etretat from the Falaise d'Amont

Today was the fulfilment of a long-held ambition to visit Etretat, whose rock arches were immortalised in paint by Claude Monet. The town has a shingle beach lying between two chalk cliffs.

We approached Etretat by car from the east and parked near the Falaise d'Amont, the Upstream Cliff. The first thing you see is the seamen's chapel of Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde.

Across the bay you can see the other cliff, the Falaise d'Aval, the Downstream cliff. The arch is known as the Porte d'Aval and the sea stack is known, inevitably, as the needle (L'Aiguille).

Looking east, there is another cliff with a tiny arch.

On the way back to the car I was delighted to spot a Short-tailed Blue. We then headed into Etretat, parked on the outskirts of the town (spotting a Grayling with open wings just nearby) and walked down to the promenade which runs the full length of the beach. There was a nice view beyond the boats back to the Falaise d'Amont.

We began to climb the path up to the Falaise d'Aval. At the top there are a number of rocky spires offering pleasing view back over the bay,

To the west stood the massive Manneport Arch.

We followed the path to stand on the Manneport, which offers the best view of the Porte d'Aval and L'Aiguille. The latter is an impressive 200 ft high.

More massive chalk cliffs stood to the west in the direction of Dieppe.

We followed the path back down, seeing several Clouded Yellows on the way, then walked along the promenade to have an excellent lunch at the Falaises Blanches restaurant. On the way back to the car through the town we admired the picturesque covered market. It is only a reconstruction, but it is quite atmospheric.

Conditions: warm and sunny.

Distance: 3 miles or so.

Rating: five stars. Much as I love Durdle Door in Dorset, it is not a match for Etretat.

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