If I focus hard enough, I can still recall that early morning in Étretat. The wild winds that made me think twice before approaching the edge of a cliff. The scent of the sea and its mesmerizing emerald color. I sat on those cliffs at 7 AM and felt at peace. It felt like a shame that we had to hurry and climb further up and then to the other side. I just wanted to freeze time and stare into the sea. There is nothing more calming and meditative than sitting by the sea. Even more so when you’re on top of the cliffs looking off into the distance. I could lose myself in it for hours.

woman on the etretat beach
view of etretat

Whilst I used to live by the seaside back in Croatia, I never really loved it. I could never pinpoint the exact reason, I just felt like something was missing. Now, I think I know what it was. Dramatic coastlines lined with vertical cliffs. I know that seems like a rather demanding reason but Étretat swept me off my feet. I could picture myself going out for an early morning walk alongside the cliffs and sitting by the edge for hours on end. To be perfectly honest, my daydreams often include cliffs and long walks in moody weather. I know I’m probably romanticizing it but I was also romanticizing Étretat and it still lived up to its expectations.

Although Étretat was luminous and sunny the day we visited it, that didn’t lessen its charm. In fact, all the wildflowers springing up and the greenery hugging the top edges of the cliffs made for a lovely sight. Especially since the sun was slowly waking up that early Saturday morning. My advice to anyone is to grab some food and settle down for a picnic with the best view. You’ll have to keep an eye out for seagulls because they will be out for your food. But it will be worth it. It’s hard to find a picnic spot with a more impressive view! And without a doubt, come early in the morning. And by early I mean 6 AM at the latest because the parking lots in the city are full only an hour later.

one day in étretat
stairs leading to etretat cliffs

Since we arrived so early, we got to explore the cliffs and honestly, it felt like we had them to ourselves. What better way to discover these cliffs than in peace and quiet? We saw all of them, Porte d’Aval, Porte d’Amont and the largest one, la Manneporte. It was extraordinary to see the formation of cliffs that occurred over time. Nature and its elements never cease to amaze me. More than once, I hesitated to walk too close to the edge of the cliff. Not because I have a fear of heights, not at all, but because the wind was so strong I thought it would push me over the edge. Étretat was equally terrifying and magnificent!

woman looking at the cliffs of etretat
cliff beach in etretat

By the time we left Étretat, it was past noon and the city was overcrowded. To be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t recommend the actual town of Étretat. Filled with little carnival rides and cheap souvenir stands, it felt like a rude wake-up call after the magic of the cliffs. While I wished we could have seen the sunset over those chalk cliffs, it was time to go. We had a long road ahead of us, the road to Dinan. But I suppose this gives us a reason to come back to Étretat one day.

cliffs in etretat

Overall, our visit to Étretat was short but sweet. I never thought I would actually see those cliffs with my own eyes. I still marvel at the mere memory of them. It truly is an unforgettable and magical place. Until the next time, you breathtaking cliffs!

lone man on the cliffs of etretat
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Brigita Soldo

Travel Photographer · Creative Content Creator · Vintage & Sustainable Fashion Advocate

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