The beach is a stranding port for fishing boats hauled up using the capstans which are still present along the Perrey boardwalk.
For several centuries, Etretat beach was all about fishing activities. The beach is a stranding port for fishing boats hauled up using the capstans which are still present along the Perrey boardwalk. The washer-women also came here to wash their clothes, taking advantage of the resurgence of an underground river, before drying clothing and household linen on the pebbles, which were also collected as building material.
From 1840, the fisherfolk of Etretat saw the arrival of more and more visitors, industrialists, bankers, rich merchants from Paris or England.
Writers and painters promoted this peaceful little town which became a popular seaside resort. Bathing huts, a casino, hotels and villas sprang up. The Etretat Heritage Museum displays many documents and models from this period.
On the seawall, on the Falaise d’Amont (cliffs) side, you can also find a reconstructed mobile diving platform, very popular among the first bathers.
The action of the waves contributes to cliff falls, dissolves the chalk and polishes the flint, which turns into pebbles in just a few months.
Virtual prisoners of the two obstacles of the Porte d’Aval and Porte d’Amont, Etretat’s pebbles are very rounded: they’re the bluntest on the coast!
For decades, collecting pebbles has supported part of the coastal population. From Le Havre to Le Tréport, “Pebblers” have extracted millions of cubic metres of pebbles.
Pebbles are an essential natural protection against swell and storms. They slow down the waves that hit the promenade, the Etretat seawall and limit the risks of marine submersion of the town (a phenomenon it experienced in 1990 and 2016). It is therefore forbidden, under penalty of a fine, to collect them, although you can of course always skim them with the children!
Enclosed between the Amont and Aval cliffs, Etretat beach is surrounded by a group of exceptional monumental cliffs, depicted by Isabey, Bonington, Monet and many other painters.
Every year, artistic and cultural events punctuate beach life, such as the Hello Birds festival and the arts day in July, which brings together amateur and professional painters.
Enjoying the sun on the beach while admiring the cliffs or tasting a seafood platter in one of the restaurants of the Perrey (Etretat’s promenade seawall) are unique experiences!
But Etretat beach can also be enjoyed more actively.
Swimming is of course a very popular activity, but don’t forget to follow the instructions at the first-aid post.
The Voiles et Galets sailing club offers lots of activities from Easter to November: paddle and kayak hire, sailing courses, sailing trips that carry the Balades et rando nautiques label…
You can also take part in or attend regattas such as the famous “Régate des périssoires” which brings together these traditional Etretat boats every year.
You can also walk or fish in the rockpools at the foot of the cliffs (crabs, spider crabs…).
But make sure you follow an important safety rule: be fully aware of the tide times. Many visitors get trapped between two cliffs by the rising tide!
From March to October, Natterra organises nature tours of the beach at low tide for adults and children.
Le Havre Etretat Tourisme