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Beautiful heights: Sea Cliffs, Etretat, France

Beautiful heights: Sea Cliffs, Etretat, France

In case you are watching a movie with amazing cliffs and breath-taking helicopter shots being shown and wondering where this place is, then you are probably looking at the Sea Cliffs at Etretat, France. Etretat is a small time Haute-Normandie region which is located in the north-west of France. The town is mainly dependant on farming and tourism. Etretat was once a fishing town which has now started to focus on other aspects to increase their financial stature. The breath-taking view of the beautiful seas from the high cliffs makes Etretat a much preferred place for movie shoots. Some people even call this small town as the “Director’s delight” owing to the popularity the place has earned in the film makers’ circuit.


The French town of Etretat contains three famous arches, out of which two are seen from the town namely Porte d’Aval, and the Porte d’Amont. The third one and the biggest of the all, Manneporte is not visible from the town in spite of its magnanimous stature. Apart from the three arches which have been mentioned, there is also the “needle”, which is as famous as the arches themselves. Standing alone in the middle of the sea, this cliff has its name as it resembles a sharp needle. There are a lot of tourist resorts around the cliffs and these resorts attract tourists and artists from around the world to take a look at the beautiful high cliffs. Hiking is one of the famous tourist activities in the town and the GR 21 hiking path passes through the town of Etretat. The view of the church from the seashore is an absolute delight to the human eyes.

One of the places to visit in Etretat is the “trou à l’homme” which means “the manhole” in English. History reckons that the rough seas at Etretat threw a Swedish ship against the cliffs thereby wrecking it completely. When the wreckage was withdrawn after the high tides receded, the people saw a cave which revealed the corpse of a man. It was later realised after the man was buried that the man had only lost his consciousness but not his life. This incident led to the opening of the “cave”, which provides access to the famous Jambourg beach in Etretat. But the tourism body allows the visit of tourists only during low tides as the “hole” is visible during the time and not during the high tides.


Due to the natural location of these high cliffs against the seas, the natural air flow from the sea allows a variety of sea and air sports to be practised from the top of these high cliffs. People who do not fear heights love to be on top of the cliffs of Etretat and do some fancy hand gliding. The vertical air that is produced due to this high cliffs also allow other sports such as air gliders and parapets to be flown around in the open.

Another important place that one has to be when in Etretat is the old market square. The old market square is located near the place Foch and the tourists are welcomed to the market with the old wooden structures which blow away the minds of people who see it. Though traditionally a flower and vegetable market, the old market square houses more of tourist items than the traditional market items.

It is a matter of fact that Etretat is a place where numerous artists and writers stayed and portrayed their paintings and writings. One of the notable figure is Victor Hugo, who stayed in Etretat and also wrote the world famous “Les Miserables”.

One can say that Etretat is a place where every photographer must certainly be atleast once in their lifetime. The beautiful cliffs, the ever wonderful seas, the view of the sun over the horizon from the cliffs, the beautiful wooden homes etc. makes the town a photographers’ delight.



Another reason as to why Etretat is a tourist’s delight is the sporting facilities. If you are a person who likes to get out there and do some adventure sporting without much money at stake, then Etretat is the one stop destination for that. The climate in the town is apt for sporting facilities almost year round which is another added advantage of the town of Etretat.

The pebble studded beach is a star attraction in the town of Etretat. The slowness of the tides and the beautiful seaside restaurantsmakes this place an impeccable attraction for young couples who go on tour. The peaceful beach induces the romantic mood and induces serenity to the body. People who are in search for peace of mind find Etretat an interesting place due to its calmness. With a minimum population density, it is hard to find a crowded place in the town, which is just what people in search of peace require. With globalisation, there has been an adverse impact in the life of people and so people have started to go in search for places which can calm down their nerves. In this aspect, Etretat provides a one stop destination for people who wish to travel to get past their hurried lifestyle.


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