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The Cliffs of Etretat: An Underrated Gem of France

  • Post last modified:May 27, 2024
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The Cliffs of Etetretat were one of our favorite finds in France, and are now one of our favorite gems of the country.

The white chalk cliffs tower high above a small village boasting breathtaking views, stunning natural rock arches, and beautiful grassy plains on top.

If you're looking for an incredibly romantic getaway, or want to up your photography game, Etretat will certainly not dissapoint.

This guide will cover all of the details you need for visiting the cliffs of Etretat in France, as well as practical information for having the perfect stay.

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Where are the Cliffs of Etretat?

The Cliffs of Etretat are located along the Alabaster Coast in Normandy, a region in the north west of France.

Etretat is 230 km north west of Paris, and a little under 3 hours away driving.

How Do I Get to Etretat Cliffs?

There are a number of ways to get to Etretat, so we're going to share all of the different options.

First, What Airport is Near Etretat, France?

The nearest airport to Etretat is Deauville Saint-Gatien Airport, which is about 55 km from Etretat, and a little under 1 hour away.

Cities that fly direct to Deauville Saint-Gatien include Heraklion in Greece, Olbia and Palermo in Italy, and Palma de Mallorca in Spain.

The next best option is to fly into Paris, which has a lot more options, and is typically the cheaper choice.

Flight Tip: Using Skyscanner you can try out the calendar feature to see which are the cheapest dates for flying to France.

How to Get from Deauville Saint-Gatien Airport to Etretat

The easiest way to get from the airport to Etretat is to rent a car. This is a bit of a pricey option, but will save you time and allow yourself a bit more flexibility.

Ubers are also available, but are definitely more expensive than getting a car, so certainly wouldn't be our first option.

How to Get from Paris to Etretat

Despite being further away than Deauville Saint-Gatien, getting from Paris to Etretat is pretty easy! You can take a train from Paris to Etretat, which takes a little over 2 hours, or your can take a bus from Paris to Etretat, which takes around 3 hours.

If you prefer to have an organized tour, there are some day trips from Paris to Etretat that you can look into.

Sailing to Normandy

There is a popular port town that is just a half hour from Etretat called Le Havre.

There are actually quite a few cruise companies that sail to La Havre, so you could visit Etretat on a day trip as a cruise passenger, or you can visit on your own from Portsmouth, England on a ferry.

Ferries from Portsmouth are 6 hours, and you can go as a regular passenger and take a local bus to Etretat in about an hour, or bring your car and drive there from La Havre.

There are also plenty of organized tours from Le Havre to Etretat, and here are a few of them that you can choose from:

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Entry Requirements for France

Before planning your visit to the Cliffs of Etretat in France, it's important to know the requirements for entering the country.

Visa Entry Requirements

As France is part of both the EU and the Schengen Zone, there are the same rules and regulations as the other countries in these zones. 

Those from the EU have free access to work and travel in France without any issues. Those who are not a part of the EU, but don't need a Schengen Visa, can enter without paperwork, but will need to adhere to the 90/180 rule.

The 90/180 Rule

All countries which belong to the Schengen Zone have free travel amongst eachother. That means that tourists can visit a total of 90 days within the Schengen Zone. 

This is important to know, because if you go to other countries that are in the Schengen Zone before France, you will have to subtract those days of travel allowance.

For example: 

You are going on a road trip, and spend 75 days traveling through Portugal and Spain (which are both in the Schengen Zone). This means you now only have 15 days left in the Schengen Zone, or days that you will be able to stay in France.

After leaving France, if you have used all 90 of these days, you will then have to spend 90 days outside of all Schengen countries before you can re-enter. The 90/180 rule states that you are able spend 90 days in the Schengen Zone within a 180-day period.

We spend a lot of time in Europe each year, so we always use the Schengen Visa Calculator to make sure that we stay within the allowed time period. (It is a serious offense if you even spend 91 days within a 180-day period, so it's crucial that you make sure to stay in compliance).

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Local Adjustments for the Cliffs of Etretat in France

Whenever traveling to a new place it's important to know a few things that may be different than home (or where you are coming from).

These are what we like to call "local adjustments", and these are the ones you should keep in mind while visiting the town of Etretat in France.

Language in Etretat

The official language in Etretat is French. While there may be some people who do speak English, most of them certainly aren't fond of doing so.

It's always important to at least attempt to speak a bit of French while in France, as it will make your experience much more pleasant with locals.

Currency in Etretat

The currency used in Etretat, France is the euro. Currently (May 2024) 1 USD is equal to 92 cents of a euro.

Most places accept credit card, so chances are you won't need much cash.

Electrical Outlets in Etretat, France

France uses the same plug types as the rest of Europe, which are types C, E, & F. The standard voltage in France is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz.

Can You Drink the Water at the Cliffs of Etretat?

The water is perfectly safe to drink from the tap in Etretat, and in most areas of France. Bottled water is also quite pricey, so we suggest bringing a reusable water bottle with you to refill when you can.

Tipping in Etretat, France

The tipping culture in France is similar to Spain. There is no given percentage to leave as a tip, nor is it expected to tip in every circumstance.

In restaurants most people give a few coins (1-3 euros) for a nice meal if the service was good, and in cafes you can simply leave the change rounding to the nearest euro.

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Things to Do in Etretat, France

Now that you know almost everything you need to know about visiting the town of Etretat, let's dive into all of the fun things to do in town, as well as the best ways to experience the cliffs of Etretat, France.

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the cliffs of etretat travel guide
the cliffs of etretat travel guide
the cliffs of etretat travel guide

Walk Along the Cliffs of Etretat

The cliffs of Etretat are of course the number one highlight in the area, and can be enjoyed in a number of ways.

There are various areas that you can walk along the top, one of the most popular ones being right next to the gardens (which we'll cover soon).

The beauty of the cliffs is that they stretch for 120 kilometers along the coast, and the most stunning areas are certainly right in Etretat. There are plenty of hiking trails, so you can enjoy all different viewpoints of these stunning cliffs and rock formations.

cliffs of Etretat in France
cliffs of Etretat in France

Visit the Secret Cave

If the cliffs of Etretat didn't blow your mind enough, then the secret cave at the cliffs will definitely do it for you. 

While it's not necessarily for the faint of heart, the cave boasts spectacular views of the beach below, and was the perfect place for some really unique content.

cave at the cliffs of Etretat, France

If you don't have a drone, we definitely suggest investing in one! Seeing ourselves from outside of the cave was truly insane!

secret cave at the Cliffs of Etretat in France

Have a Sunset Picnic on the Cliffs

The absolute highlight of our stay was watching the sunset from the cliffs of Etretat. 

We grabbed a bottle of wine, local cheeses, a bageuette, and salamis for the ultimate picnic on the cliffs, as we watched the waves crash down and the sun melt behind the horizon. It truly was one of the most magical moments, and one we highly suggest.

sunset at the cliffs of Etretat in France

Explore the Gardens of Etretat

The gardens of Etretat (Les Jardins d'Etretat) are actually the reason we made the trip to this beautiful village! The cliffs of Etretat truly took our breathe away though, making us have another reason to stay.

What makes the gardens so beautiful are the bushes sculpted into giant flowers with different faces in the middle. 

The gardens have various areas to enjoy, and are truly pleasant to wander around for a half hour to an hour. They are daily open from 10 am to 6 pm, and you can get the tickets for the Gardens of Etretat at the kiosk until 5 pm or online in advance.

gardens of Etretat in France
gardens of Etretat in France

Hike Along the Beaches of Etretat

Not only can you enjoy hiking along the tops of the cliffs, but you can also enjoy beach hopping down below! There are several beaches that are broken up by old war passageways, and they can only be accessed when the tide is low.

Head there eary in the morning, and you'll be able to climb through the cliffs getting from one beach to the other.

Just make sure you are keeping an eye on the tide! You definitely don't want to get stuck on a beach until the tide goes back down.

hiking under the cliffs of Etretat, France
hiking under the cliffs of Etretat, France

Visiting the Cliffs of Etretat: Local Food & Drink

We only spent one night in Etretat so didn't get to try any of the restaurants while we were in town.

However, we definitely recommend heading to the supermarket in town! They have incredible cheeses and wines, as well as some of the best salamis we've ever had.

Fresh baguettes, a variety of cheeses, meats, and wine make the perfect picnic to enjoy on the beach or on the cliffs of Etretat.

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How Do You Get Around Etretat, France?

Now that you know the best things to do in Etretat, it's time to get you around!

We had a car and used it to get to most places (particularly for getting to the gardens and getting to the secret cave at the cliffs of Etretat). There is both paid and free parking you can find, and for getting around town we simply walked.

Do You Need a Car in Etretat?

To see the cliffs of Etretat and the other highlights in town, you really don't need a car. However, we found having a car was great so that we could also explore the other cute villages nearby.

Parking can be a bit difficult in Etretat, so you'll certainly have to have a bit of patience, especially if you are visiting in the summertime.

As for getting to the top of the cliffs, it can certainly be walked, but it will be a bit of a workout to get up to certain spots.

walking to the cliffs of Etretat in France

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Where to Stay Near the Cliffs of Etretat, France

The village of Etretat is quite small, but they do have quite a few places to stay in town. Here are a few of our top recommendations for hotels in Etretat:

  • Hotel d'Angleterre: a beautiful historic hotel that is just a 4 minute walk from the cliffs of Etretat
  • Hotel Le Rayon Vert: a 19th century hotel with both cliff and sea views, and a restaurant specialized in seafood
  • La Villa 10 Hotel Spa: a trendy hotel with a spa and bar just 500 meters from the beach

Want to check out other options? You can also check out the other hotels in Etretat.

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Is Etretat Safe?

Etretat is a very safe village, and has a low crime rate. We felt comfortable walking around at night, and found everyone to be very friendly towards tourists.

As far as the cliffs of Etretat go, do keep in mind that there are no barriers, and you should NEVER go all the way up to the edge. Remember that nature can be unpredictable, so you don't want to test the limits.

Is Etretat Safe for Solo Female Travelers?

Etretat is certainly safe for solo female travelers! We did find Etretat to be one of the most romantic destinations in the world though, and it has more couples and families than anything.

cliffs of Etretat
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Other Things to Know About Visiting the Cliffs of Etretat

Now you know almost everything you need to know for visiting the cliffs of Etretat. But don't go anywhere yet! We have a few final details to share with you.

Weather in Etretat, France

Etretat experiences similar weather to the white cliffs of Dover. This city has long, cold, and wet winters, with mild and sunny summers. Being located on the coast, there is a lot of wind in Etretat, and it can get particularly chilly at night, even in the summertime!

When to Visit Etretat

The best time to visit Etretat is in the summertime. This is when you can enjoy a nice beach day, as well as have pleasant weather to truly enjoy the cliffs.

If you can, try to stay for the sunset in Etretat, as this is definitely the most mafical time to enjoy the cliffs of Etretat.

Cliffs of Etretat in France
Cliffs of Etretat in France

Packing For a Trip to the Cliffs of Etretat

Here are some of the things we would recommend bringing while visiting the Cliffs of Etretat in France:

  • Reusable Water Bottle (we use this water bottle from Cafago because it holds the temperature)
  • Umbrella
  • Jacket and some layers
  • Bathing suit (for the beach)
  • Beach towel or blanket (for the beach or for a picnic)
  • Sneakers for hiking
  • Zippered Bag or Backpack - take a look at these backpacks for travelers!
  • Power Bank (we use Anker power banks, as they are super long lasting and sturdy)
  • Drone - a must for incredible photography! (Our Mavic Mini Pro 3 held up well, even with the strong winds!)
  • Action Camera (we use the Insta 360 X3 because it's small & waterproof)
  • Travel Adapter (we use Insignia travel adapters as they are affordable and reliable)
  • Travel toiletries (our favorites are from Sheer Alternatives because they're all natural and 100ml)

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Is it Worth Going to Etretat?

The Cliffs of Etretat were one of our favorite places in France! Etretat is definitely worth visiting, and in our opinion, is one of the most underrated places in the country.

How Much Time Does it Take to See Etretat?

You could easily see the cliffs of Etretat and the other highlights of the area is 24 hours. However, we definitely suggest spending at least one night.

You could also easily enjoy a second day in Etretat, and another one if you want to explore other nearby villages.

Cliffs of Etretat in France
Cliffs of Etretat in France
Cliffs of Etretat in France
Cliffs of Etretat in France

We hope we've inspired you to travel to the stunning cliffs of Etretat, and that this guide helps you have an incredible visit!

Want to explore other beautiful places in France? Well, we have a bunch of other fun France travel guides coming up, so make sure to subscribe to our newsletter

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