The Cliffs of Etretat, a major tourist site

Etretat is located about thirty kilometres north of Le Havre in the department of Seine-Maritime.

Cliff and needle

It is also one of the many seaside resorts of the superb Alabaster Coast – Côte d’Albâtre, the coastline of the chalky region known as Pays de Caux.

Great painters, such as Eugène Boudin, Claude Monet (who lived in Le Havre) and Gustave Courbet, abundantly painted this superb coast.

One of their favourite subjects was of course the three arches and the needle of Etretat.

They contributed the cliffs of Etretat into a major tourist site.

Sea erosion produces this amazing natural rock formations.

The other side of the cliff

The water indeed penetrates the cracks of the rock; it opens cavities that enlarge over the centuries and eventually cracked open and form arches.

The arches eventually collapse, and leave rocky pillars.

These ‘needles’ stand alone in the water, until more centuries of erosion make them slowly disappear.

The arches of the Falaise d’Etretat are so famous that they even have a name.

The Porte d’Aval and Porte d’Amont can be seen from town, but not the largest arch that is known as Manneporte.

Oiseau Blanc – Nungesser and Coli

Sadly, the cliffs of Etretat are also remembered for being the location from where the Oiseau Blanc was last seen.

Etretat on the Alabaster Coast
Etretat on the Alabaster Coast

Charles Nungesser and François Coli took off on May 8, 1927 in order to attempt the first transatlantic nonstop flight between Paris and New-York.

They never reached their destination.

Their airplane disappeared somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean; no wreckage was ever found.

This dramatic event is one of the greatest mysteries in the history of aviation.

Their commemorative monument was destroyed during WWII.

A new memorial was, however, rebuilt in 1963 alongside a museum.

Department of Seine-Maritime
Coordinates: Lat 49.707050 – Long 0.194020

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