Alabaster Coast, opposite the White Cliffs of Dover

The Alabaster Coast – Côte d’Albâtre is a 130km long coastline that stretches along the entire length of the Pays de Caux and department of Seine-Maritime!

Le Treport lighthouse on Alabaster Coast
Le Treport lighthouse on Alabaster Coast

It was named after the impressive white cliffs that border this section of the English Channel.

Alabaster limestone is indeed so white that its name has become synonymous with ‘pure white’.

Pays de Caux, was also named after its chalky soil; the word chaux (limestone) indeed evolved into caux.

The Alabaster Coast starts at Cap de la Hève, on the northern bank of the Baie de Seine north of Le Havre.

It ends at the Bay of the Somme, and includes many fishing villages and seaside resorts.

The best known are Etretat, Fécamp, Dieppe and Le Tréport-Eu-Mers-les-Bains.

The Alabaster Coast is in fact the pendant to the White Cliffs of Dover!

Etretat on the Alabaster Coast
Etretat on the Alabaster Coast

It consists basically of a single cliff open only by three river valleys – Valmont, Arques and Brestle – and delineated from the sea by pebble beaches.

This abrupt white cliff reaches 120m in places.

It therefore boasts breathtaking views of the English Channel and the surrounding countryside.

Marine erosion has also created exceptional rock formations.

One of these, the arches and the needle of Etretat, attract tourists from all around the world.

The Impressionists on the Alabaster Coast

Such is the untamed beauty of the Alabaster Coast that it became one of the Impressionist painters’ favourite subjects during the 19th century.

They indeed sojourned in the many fishing ports – which eventually became trendy seaside resorts – of a region so easily accessed from Paris!

Monet, Boudin, Pissaro, Renoir and Courbet, among others, thus immortalised the Alabaster Coast.

Its breathtaking seascapes also inspired the composers Debussy and Roussel, and the writer Guy de Maupassant who came there to draw inspiration.

How not to be inspired by such beauty!

Department Seine-Maritime
Coordinates: Lat 50.035835 – Long 1.285896

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