Visit the Falaises d’Etretat: tickets, prices, opening hours

If you’re staying in France over the vacations, don’t forget to visit the Falaises d’Etretat for a guaranteed feast for the eyes!

If you have the opportunity to visit Normandy during your vacation, then don’t hesitate to head for the commune of Etretat, in the Seine-Maritime département. Etretat is a well-known seaside resort that attracts many visitors thanks to its chalk cliffs stretching for several kilometers along the coast.

If you’d like to see them for yourself, here’s all the information you need to visit the Falaises d’Etretat and prepare for your expedition!

History of the Falaises d’Etretat

Histoire des Falaises d'Etretat

Photo credit: Shutterstock / Leonid Andronov

The Cliffs of Etretat are not recent, as they are estimated to be over 100 million years old. They are chalk cliffs towering over one hundred and two meters above the English Channel.

Many artists have drawn inspiration from these landscapes in their works, from painters to novelists, poets and composers. One of the best-known anecdotes is that of Guy de Maupassant, who, when he saw the cliffs, described the Porte d’Aval as an  » elephant plunging its trunk into the water ».

He later drew inspiration from the grotto below in his poem Mercure de France. Monet, for his part, depicted the cliffs and its needle in one of his paintings, and other artists followed suit, with the result that, over time, tourists from all over the world flocked to the area.

What to see and do at the Falaises d’Etretat?

Que voir et faire aux falaises d'Etretat ?

Photo credit: Shutterstock / Gaspar Janos

If you’d like to visit the Falaises d’Etretat, then a hike may be the best way to take in the incredible views, but also to see the many points of interest below:

La porte d’Amont

The Porte d’Amont is the smallest arch of the cliffs. It lies on the longest cape in the Pays de Caux, and is a particularly popular spot for seabirds, which you can meet and photograph if you’re discreet enough.

It’s also possible to walk down to the beach leading to the Porte d’Amont, which is relatively quiet, given that most tourists prefer the Porte d’Aval and the Manneporte.

Downstream gate

The Porte d’Aval is a huge flint archway which, according to Guy de Maupassant, resembles an elephant dipping its trunk in water.

From this strategic point on the Falaises d’Etretat, you can see the village in the distance, as well as La Manneporte and the entrance to the chambre des demoiselles.

La Manneporte

Located at the end of the Jambourg beach, on the other side of the Porte d’Aval, the Manneporte is the largest and most impressive of the three arches you can admire when visiting the Falaises d’Etretat. Incidentally, the name Manneporte comes from Old French and means big door.

From the top of this arch, you can admire the Aval cliff and the aiguille d’Etretat, making it an ideal spot for postcard-perfect photos.

A little anecdote: Guy de Maupassant asserted that a ship, with all sails set, could easily pass through it, as the arch is immense.

La chambre des demoiselles

If you go to the Aval cliff, you’ll have the chance to see a crevasse nestled high up in the rocks. Known as the  » Chambre des demoiselles » (Chamber of Damsels ) is surrounded by an infamous legend.

According to the story, three sisters took refuge in the crevasse to escape the Seigneur de Fréfossé, who was furious that they had refused his advances. After several hours in hiding, thinking they had escaped their pursuer, the sisters decided to climb out of the crevasse, but to no avail. In fact, the man had taken care to block the entrance to the crevasse, knowing that the three sisters were there.

They were therefore unable to get out of the hole, and after more than seventy-two hours without eating or drinking, they succumbed, and it is said that their ghosts still haunt the place.

The Etretat needle

One of the mysteries of the cliffs is the 55-metre-high rock formation that stands alone in the cliffs. Indeed, the fact that only this piece has remained in the middle of the water, while the rest of the rock has been dug out to its current state, intrigues many.

But that’s not all! Described in detail in a novel by Maurice Leblanc, this needle intrigues fans of the writer. According to Leblanc’s work, the needle is hollow and holds the secret of the kings of France. What’s more, it’s where the famous Arsène Lupin hid to escape his pursuers.

Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde chapel

Covered in slate and built of ashlar, the Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde d’Etretat chapel is one of the must-see monuments on your visit to the Falaises d’Etretat. This place of worship, also known as the sailors’ chapel, was built in 1854 and rebuilt identically in 1950, after being destroyed by the Germans during the war.

Although a gate prevents entry to the building, the view from outside the chapel is well worth the detour, and the photos you can take of it overlooking the cliffs will be just magical.

The Trou à l’Homme cave

Le Trou à l’Homme is a small cave named after a Swedish sailor who, in 1792 after a shipwreck, was found alive at the entrance to the cave, while the rest of the crew had drowned. Today, the cave attracts many tourists, and since 1922, a tunnel has been dug to link Etretat and Jambourg beaches.

How do I get to the Etretat cliffs?

The Falaises d’Etretat is in northern France, and if you’d like to see its location on a map or enter the exact address in your GPS, here it is: Falaises d’Etretat, 76790 Etretat.

By car

From Paris, it takes around two hours by car to reach the cliffs.

  • Take the 113 towards Rouen/Caen as you leave the capital.
  • Take the A 131 Pont de Tancarville towards Le Havre.
  • Get off at Saint Romaine de Colbosc on the A29
  • Once on the D39, take the Etainhus / Angerville, l’Orcher exit and you’ll arrive in Etretat.

By train

From Paris, you can reach Etretat by taking the Paris – Le Havre line, then the Etretat – Lazare connection at Bréauté station.

By bus

In summer, and at weekends all year round, you can reach Etretat by shuttle bus from the Bréauté guard station.

Les Falaises d’Etretat opening hours & rates

Horaires et tarifs des falaises d'Etretat

Photo credit: Shutterstock / Zhoto

SCHEDULES

The cliffs are permanently accessible, even at night for the more adventurous, although it’s not advisable to go there in the dark.

RATES

There is no entrance fee to visit the Falaises d’Etretat.

Tip: if you really want to make the most of your visit to the Falaises d’Etretat, then booking a personal guide or joining a guided tour might be a good idea. The town’s tourist office, as well as a number of organizations specializing in guided tours, offer a wide range of excursions, including some on the theme of Impressionism or in the form of riddles.

GOOD TO KNOW

– If you’re driving to visit the Falaises d’Etretat, you should know that the Falaises d’Amont can be reached with your own vehicle.

– If you’re going hiking, don’t go it alone! Many of the paths are steep, and it’s easy to injure yourself if you’re not careful.

– Avoid visiting in the dark, as it can be difficult to spot the edge of the cliffs, and you could step on a fragile part that could give way without realizing it.