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Hi Everyone,

I'm planning my first trip to France Spring 2017 and part of the trip will be spending a few days in Normandy and am planning to stay in Etretat.

Besides the hike to see the cliffs/view, are there any other things to do in Etretat? Any particular restaurant and hotel suggestions? Also, is nearby Fecamp worth a visit? I will have have a rental car.

Thank you!

Posted by
21843 posts

Do hope that you French is good. We spent a day there. Absolutely beautiful but don't think there is anything more than the scenery.

Posted by
2921 posts

We spent a day there as well four years ago and I don't recall anything but the views. We walked around town and shopped a bit, had lunch at the first restaurant we saw on the waterfront and then spent the afternoon hiking the cliffs. It was beautiful. Our server in the restaurant spoke English and so did every sales clerk in the stores that we entered. My French is better now but it is not great and I don't recall even having to use it much in Etretat.

Posted by
2466 posts

If you're lucky to be going to Etretat on a nice, sunny day, it's nice to find a place on the grass and have a picnic. There is a golf course right next to the cliffs, so you'll have to avoid that.

Most people cross over to the opposite side of the cliff formations and head to the little church on the slope, there. It's a hike, but good exercise. I'd recommend leaving the car in the public lot - it's really difficult to find parking anywhere near the church. I'd recommend bringing whatever you want to eat from home. You can drink wine in public.
There's a little shop specializing in tinned sardines which are canned locally and are very good, and a couple of outlets selling calvados and tourist stuff, which are not worth your time. The restaurants are not interesting, but will do if the weather is bad and you're starving.

Nothing doing in Fecamp, unfortunately, unless you want to visit the place where Benedictine liqueur is made and sold.

Posted by
1680 posts

I see chexbres has posted in the meanwhile preparing mine.

Second the idea that Étretat is certainly worth a visit, a touristy but charming place with a pleasant atmosphere and the cliffs are stunning. I visited it in 2005 and last September, both times together with Fécamp. The latter is to my opinion nice but doubt if it is really worth the detour, but the coastal road ( D11 and D211 ) between the two places is, with lovely places like Vattetot-sur-Mer, Vaucottes and Yport. Yport is smaller, lesser touristy, but I liked the natural charm.

There are hiking trails along the cliffs at both sides of Étretat. Did the northern one from nearby Bénouville and parked the car there alongside a countryroad and walked to Chapelle Notre-Dame de la Garde (the one chexbres means) and the view from there is fantastic. Didn´t had the time walking the one at the other side, guess is with the arches even more fantastic. A comparable view you can have over Fécamp is driving uphill there to Chapelle Notre-Dame du Salut. If nevertheless of interest a good and well-known restauarant in Fécamp is Chez Nounoute, well it was in 2005 but looking at the reviews I am quite sure it still is.

Instead of hotels you can look for Chambre d`Hôtes (B&B), a good organisation is:

Posted by
267 posts

Etretat may enchant you to linger longer than planned. We enjoyed a long afternoon through sunset there in 2012. Fecamp has the Benedictine Monastery and tour, which we enjoyed, as we do a lot of wine & liquor tours when in Europe. When we went back to Etretat, we were staying in Honfleurs, we drove up to the church and hiked along the cliffs back towards Fecamp. Just beautiful as we waited for the sunset. Will never forget our visit there and we are excited for you.

Posted by
25 posts

Thank you all for the suggestions. The only reason I really planned on staying in Etretat, was the chance to see a sunrise and/or sunset and figured it would be easier to accomplish by just staying there. The pictures I've seen are amazing. However, I don't have to stay there necessarily.

I will be taking a train to Rouen late one night and plan to stay in Rouen that night and explore the city the next day. I will be renting a car there. I had planned on a "road trip" the next day to visit Mont Saint Michel, Omaha beach, and possibly Honfleurs or Caen if they are worth a visit. Then at least a morning/evening in Etretat sometime. About 3 days total. Afterwards I will return the car in Rouen and take a train a train to Paris from there.

Would Rouen be a better place to stay the whole time? Or Caen?

Posted by
340 posts

I had planned on a "road trip" the next day to visit Mont Saint Michel, Omaha beach, and possibly Honfleurs or Caen if they are worth a visit.

Google maps (which tends to underestimate times) has this as about 7 hours of driving. Add in the time to find parking, etc. and all you'll be doing is driving place to place.

Posted by
2921 posts

I am not being flip but have you looked at any of the drive times before making your plan. If I read this correctly, you plan to spend a day in Rouen. Then the next day you plan to do a day trip to Le Mont St Michel and Omaha Beach and maybe Honfleur and Caen. MSM is about 3 hours by car from Rouen and Omaha Beach is about two hours away from MSM, Etretat and Rouen. MSM to Etretat is about 3 hours. As said above any way you slice it, you are looking at least 7 and more likely 8.5 hours of driving for your “day trip” day. It’s not really a question of where you stay. It’s a question of trying to fit too much stuff into one day. As mentioned above, you will be driving from place to place and that is about it. I did the trip that you describe as day-trip in 3 days and I felt like we were in the car too much on the day we drove from the Omaha beach area to Etretat. Etretat is really beautiful and in fact like a poster above we were enchanted by the sunset but unlike her we lost track of time there and ended up missing our train to Paris because we left too late.

Have you considered a one-way rental for the car with the pick it up in Rouen and the return in Rennes. Think about flipping your itinerary and moving Etretat to right after Rouen. Basically you would head west the entire trip instead of driving back and forth. With that change, you would explore Rouen on Day 1 and head to Etretat at around 3:30 and spend the night giving you the chance to see Etretat at sunset depending on the time of year that you are traveling. Then on Day 2 go from Etretat to the Omaha beach area and spend 4 hours there. That is not enough time but it’s what you have. You have to consider if you want to arrive at MSM in the morning of day 3 and spend a couple of hours there and then drive to Rennes and drop of the car and head to Paris by train or if you want to push through on day 2 and drive to MSM from the beaches and spend the night there. If you choose option 1, I’d spend more time at the beaches and then spend the night in Bayeux and leave for MSM by 8 AM in the morning on Day 3 with the plan to be on the island by 10:30 or so and to head out to Rennes after 2 or 3 hours. If you choose option 2, you get to arrive at MSM and see it at the best time for a visit to that lovely spot.

Posted by
25 posts

JHK - I had roughly looked at drive times as I'm in the early planning stages and knew it'd be too much, so I'm trying to find a more central point like you suggested and maybe spread it out a bit more.

The suggestion for a one way rental car is a much better idea. I think Bayeux would be a good spot, as we could go visit Mont st Michel in one day from there, and Omaha Beach on another day the morning before we leave, and looks like we can take a train from there back to Paris.

Posted by
11975 posts

I wandered the cliffs at Fecamp and then Etretat. I'm glad I went to both. You can cover quite a bit in one afternoon with a car and some walking. I think I ended in Etretat after going to Fecamp. In some ways the cliffs are more spectacular in Fecamp area but both are nice. Etretat has some signature views.

In May, I think the 15th, a big sail race begins in LeHavre. It doesn't end until, I think, October. I wouldn't otherwise recommend it but the pre-race activities would be fun to visit.