In August 2020 (yes because at the moment we are far from the heatwave …) I had made a reservation for one night near Etretat (in a dormitory to reduce costs). What a good surprise it finally fell on the heatwave weekend in early August! Great to leave the Paris region and enjoy a good swim 😎.
So I stayed in Villainville at domaine de la marnière a few minutes by car from Etretat. The place is really very nice and especially it was cool in the room! With the covid they took fewer reservations than available. So I was able to have my room alone (well not the great luxury but having paid for a dormitory it was really better!). The hostess is really nice and accommodating. Parking is available on site. I also had breakfast in addition (and a bottle of cold water for the day!).
Parking in Etretat
You should know that parking is very complicated in Etretat! If you really want to park near the beach, you have to be patient and do a lot of laps … Another solution is to “double park” in the small car park in the center to take the place directly when it is frees. Otherwise outside Etretat, just before arriving there is a large car park which is 10-15 minutes walk from the beach.
The covid not having helped, it was quite complicated for eat at restaurant. Either I got asked to get off because alone (so I “block” a table for more people) or you have to show up really very early on pain of having to wait a long time outside…
You should know that in this part of Normandy the beaches are pebble! I strongly advise you to wear suitable shoes for going in the water because it hurts your feet quite a bit when you are not used to it. For more comfort you can also bring a small beach seat 😊.
Big point of attention also at the level of the tides! Many swimmers get trapped by the high tide which sometimes does not allow them to return to the accessible beach and find themselves blocked. When I was there, tourists had to be rescued by a helicopter and it is unfortunately very (too) frequent.
I first went to Fécamp, you can park easily at the top, at Cap Fagnet. From there you can have a great view !
Normandy having been a decisive place during the war, there are still quite a few traces of this period such as bunkers in particular. And there are also often beautiful churches or chapels overlooking the ocean!
I then went down to take a well-deserved bath at the beach 😎 . The edge of the beach can be a little steep and the water level is quite high straight away so be careful especially for children! The water was a bit cool but in the heat of the heat it feels really good!
The first night I just got there in time for the sunset 😍.
The next morning, I started by exploring the western part of Etretat. The paths are very marked and arranged here in order to see all the possible cliffs and beaches. With the hot weather it was difficult to have a “clear” view, a mist was very present.
On the way down, the tide had not yet come back completely I was able to take advantage of this to take beautiful photos of the cliffs and the Aiguille d’Etretat :
At very low tide it is possible to go to the other side but be careful, the tide rises quickly and then it is impossible to walk back to the main beach!
Here again, at low tide, you can clearly see the remains of the war, it’s quite impressive!
After a well-deserved bath and a meal, I went to the cliffs to the east of the promenade. For information, I went through rue Jules Gerbeau, admittedly a little less direct than the path at the end of the beach. But it suddenly rises less strongly and I was not in full sun it was a very big advantage! And for information, the road leading to the top is closed to traffic.
One of the small beaches is accessible by stairs from the cliff. At low tide you can also reach other beaches but be careful, you will be stranded at high tide! This is what happened to tourists at that time, they had to be rescued by helicopter…
I really liked this little weekend and would go back a little less in high season. Because despite the covid there were really a lot of people!
Statement of the weekend: 109E spent excluding fuel: (26.8E for accommodation; 69.9E for meals; 12.30E for toll)