Étretat, now an elegant resort, has always had a great reputation because of the originality of its setting. The grandeur of the high cliffs and the crashing waves is unforgettable whatever the season. It is no wonder that the town has inspired many writers, artists and film directors. Maupassant spent is childhood here, “leading the life of a wild foal”, according to his own words, and Maurice Leblanc described the Aiguille Creuse through his famous character, Arsène Lupin. Other famous personalities who helped to establish the fame of the town included Alexandre Dumas, André Gide, Victor Hugo, Gustave Courbet, Jacques Offenbach and Claude Monet.
The single beach, skirted by a sea wall promenade, lies between the well-known cliffs; to the east the Amont Cliff with its small chapel Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde and its museum; to the west the Aval Cliff with its monumental arch cut through the chalk, known as the Porte d’Aval. La chapelle Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde, was built in 1854. It is both dedicated to the Blessed Virgin but also pays tribute to mariners lost as sea. It was completely destroyed during the Second World War and then rebuilt in 1950.
Offshore stands a solitary needle rock, the Aiguille. On the beach are three traditional thatched fishermen’s huts originally used for storing fishing equipment but have now been restored and are used as outdoor coffee shops.