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Photographer's Note

Panorama of Etretat

Étretat is a commune in the Seine-Maritime department in the Haute-Normandie region in northern France.

As for reaching the top of the Falaise d’Aval, a very steep stair-path winds up to the top of the “Falaise d’Amont”. (You will need approximately 1 hour for a return walk). Here stands the Notre-Dame de la Garde Chapel, made of stone. In 1854, Etretat’s fishermen decided to build a chapel dedicated to the Holy Virgin, their Patron Saint. The Nazis blew out the building in 1942 and it was rebuilt in the early 1950’s. Behind the Chapel stands another monument, which looks like a tall white arrow, dedicated to aviators Nungesser and Coli, who were the first to attempt the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean without stopping.


Étretat, a romantic open-air theatre overlooking the Channel, has provided inspiration to some of the most illustrious artists, and even a brief visit is enough to understand why.

Although the time is long past when women came to wash their linen on the beach, Etretat is still a place where emotions are real and man is in direct contact with Nature at its most beautiful and fragile. The astonishing verticality of the cliffs of the Alabaster Coast contrasts perfectly with the gentle roundness of the shore. The waves of pebbles on which children love to slide reflect those of the sea, and transport you into a world of dreams. Will you let yourself be tempted by a boat trip, or do you prefer to discover the cliffs, following trails that overhang the Channel? Whether you are aboard a small craft or on the summit of these limestone dignities, you can only marvel at the splendour of a completely unique seascape. Even if the treasure of the Kings of France were hidden somewhere in these mysterious surroundings, legends do not need to be written, here they have their own lives in this setting whose ageless renown has not undermined its wild beauty.
From the windswept top you can see further rock formations and possibly even glimpse Le Havre, but the views back to the village sheltered in the valley, and the Falaise d'Amont on its eastern side – which Maupassant compared to an elephant dipping its trunk into the ocean – are what stick in the memory. The cliff itself presents an idyllic rural scene, with a gentle footpath winding up the green hillside to the little chapel of Notre-Dame.

The cliffs : Courtine, Manneporte, the Aval and Amont cliffs, the Vaudieu rock or the Aiguille de Belval. Mysterious names borne by these sculptures carved by the sea in the chalk and flint of the Pays de Caux plateau. Some people think they can see the head of an elephant dipping his trunk in the waves, while others assert, as Maupassant did, that a ship with all sails flying could pass through the Manneporte arch... but you may decide for yourself!

Notable people

Étretat was the birthplace of Élie Halévy (1870–1937), philosopher and historian.
Guy de Maupassant (1850–1893) spent most of his childhood in Étretat, at "Les Verguies". In 1882 he wrote a short story for Le Gaulois entitled "The Englishman of Étretat" (L'Anglais d'Étretat), based on encounters in 1868, as a house guest of G. E. J. Powell, with the English poet Algernon Charles Swinburne, whom he had helped save from drowning. The dried human hand displayed on one of the tables was later acquired by Maupassant to adorn his Paris apartment; it inspired another short story, "The Flayed Hand" (La Main Écorchée). In 1883 he built his own house in Étretat, "La Guillette", in the Mediterranean style in "Le Grand Val", since renamed rue Guy-de-Maupassant. Jean-Baptiste Faure (1830–1914), the great French operatic baritone whose career centred on Paris and London, also owned a villa there. A friend of the artist Edouard Manet and a keen collector of art, Faure did amateur paintings of the local area, including the scenic cliffs.(Source: normandie-tourisme)

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Additional Photos by George Rumpler (Budapestman) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 8900 W: 3 N: 20435] (82620)
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