The limestone cliffs of Etretat

The limestone cliffs and arches of Etretat at dusk

The limestone cliffs and arches of Etretat at dusk

Monet's "End of the day" painting of Etretat

Monet’s “End of the day” painting of Etretat

Monet has immortalized in his canvas the limestone arches and cliffs of Etretat over a century ago. I can imagine why this fishing village along the Atlantic coast fascinated him then and why its charm still draws many to this day.

Almost five years ago, in late summer and my daughter was still a baby of just 10 months, we spent a week in this lovely seaside town. It was me and my husband’s second time to be in Normandy but a first for my parents-in-law who joined us in this holiday. We stayed in a pretty much secluded but lovely house owned by a French farmer perched on the hilltop that’s about two kms from Etretat’s town center.

Etretat is a town with character still intact in terms of those lovely half-timbered houses apart from its ever famous limestone arches and cliffs. While commercialism has unavoidably taken its root as well, the old charm still prevails. We had days spent on its pebbled beach watching just about everything — fishing boats coming onshore and the seemingly timeless manner of auctioning off the fishermen’s catch to restaurant buyers who boast of fresh catch of the day on their menus, busy cockle gatherers at low tide when the bottom of the shallow part of the Atlantic gets exposed, to magical sunsets that brought us a good understanding of why Monet fell in love with Etretat in the first place.

Etretat despite being romanticized most times, is like the rest of Normandy which has not been spared from the scourge of WWII. Along its picture-perfect coast, one cannot miss the heavily-fortified and macabre looking German bunker which must have seen some of the fiercest battles back then.

At the far end of Etretat’s picturesque limestone cliff is a quaint chapel which we visited in late afternoon just close to sunset time. It is not a real chapel but a folly, its placement there was more for aesthetic to further Etretat’s charm. Despite that discovery, this part of Etretat is simply spectacular with the most amazing vantage point to see the waters of the Atlantic as it stretches far into the horizon on one side, the town of Etretat below and the limestone arches further on.

We had a wonderful time during this holiday exploring not just Etretat but other historic places in Normandy as well.

The rocky cliffs of Étretat by Monet

The rocky cliffs of Étretat by Monet

Monet's painting

Monet’s painting

On our arrival in Etretat, we were treated to this wonderful sunset

On our arrival in Etretat, we were treated to this wonderful sunset

Our family minus Francesca who was already fast asleep

Our family minus Francesca who was already fast asleep

The pretty much secluded holiday home we stayed in

The pretty much secluded holiday home we stayed in

Etretat's pebbled beach and limestone cliffs

Etretat’s pebbled beach and limestone cliffs

Our family

Our family

Our family

Our family

View from atop the limestone cliffs of Etretat

View from atop the limestone cliffs of Etretat

Me and my little girl

Me and my little girl

The Atlantic at sunset from atop the limestone cliffs of Etretat

The Atlantic at sunset from atop the limestone cliffs of Etretat

The town of Etretat

The town of Etretat

The folly chapel

The folly chapel

Etretat's limestone cliffs

Etretat’s limestone cliffs

The folly chapel and the Atlantic at sunset

The folly chapel and the Atlantic at sunset

Our family

Our family

Mom and Dad

Mom and Dad

Our family minus me (the photographer)

Our family minus me (the photographer)

Etretat at dusk

Etretat at dusk

Francesca in Etretat

Francesca in Etretat

Father and daughter

Father and daughter

Francesca with opa and oma

Francesca with opa and oma

At the shores of Etretat.  Behind them is the partial view of the sinister-looking German bunker from WWII

At the shores of Etretat. Behind them is the partial view of the sinister-looking German bunker from WWII

One sunny day in Etretat

One sunny day in Etretat

Our family

Our family

Cockle gatherers hard at work during low tide

Cockle gatherers hard at work during low tide

Etretat at dusk

Etretat at dusk

About Malou
I'm a mom to a five-year old little girl with interest in cooking, baking, traveling and photography. Castles and palaces are special favorites so when weather permits for a good walk on weekends, me, hubby and little girl are always out for a bit of adventure.

32 Responses to The limestone cliffs of Etretat

  1. restlessjo says:

    The cliffs and the little chapel are beautiful, Malou. It looks a most inviting place. :)

  2. Lucid Gypsy says:

    I’ve never heard of this place but its much like Durdle Door in Dorset!

  3. Oh Malou, I LOVED seeing your photos of the cliffs and then the Monet paintings. He is an artist close to my heart, partly because of his garden and paintings of it. We have a very large waterlilies painting of his in our city museum that I often go to visit. In fact, a trip to his gardens at Giverny is at the top of my wish list. Thanks for a wonderful post!

  4. Pingback: The limestone cliffs of Etretat | FutureWorld

  5. Ahhh, another place to add to my bucket list! I can see why Monet was so attracted to this place. Beautiful!

  6. agwink says:

    Your pictures are beautiful Malou. If only I were still able to travel–first to Ireland, then to Normandy. Holland would make the list, along with Poland, Romania, and back to Germany. But now, only in my dreams and other people’s photographs. Thank you for taking me to Normandy. Angie

  7. RDoug says:

    Beautiful pictures, Malou. Love the comparisons with Monet’s work, as well.

  8. Kitty says:

    Just beautiful, Malou. It looks like this was a happy family holiday for all of you…yes? The architecture of the chapel is so inviting and what a view!

    Monet is dear to my heart; I’ve been to so many museums to see his astonishing work…what a treat it must be to visit the places that inspired him!

    Thank you for this wonderful post and your–as always–beautiful photographs!

  9. ventisqueras says:

    ho rivisto i luoghi del mio amatissimo Monet padre dell’impressionismo, rivivere nella maestosità delle scogliere calcaree, immagini piene di fascino e di suggestione, come ormai ci hai abituati a gustare
    grazie per la condivisione anche delle foto deliziose con i familiari
    passa una dolce notte

    I reviewed the places of my beloved father of Impressionism Monet, reliving the Majesty of limestone cliffs, pictures full of charm and suggestion, as you used to enjoy
    Thanks for sharing the lovely picture with family
    passes a sweet night

  10. Great photos and darn it, another place added to the bucket list.

  11. ShimonZ says:

    Beautiful recollection.

  12. How beautiful! I’ll have to add this to my list of places I want to visit! :-) Dana

  13. artmuse10 says:

    Reblogged this on art and literature and commented:
    fantastic

  14. Thanks for your beautiful description, making this a truly wonderful place to visit… It says a lot about you…

  15. Deb Platt says:

    Wow, they should put one of your photos of Etretat in the dictionary to illustrate the word, “scenic.” What a lovely place! And I really like how you showed Monet’s paintings of the beautiful arch.

  16. What wonderful photographs, Malou! Etretat seems like a truly mystical and magical place. It looks like something out of Lord of the Rings! You captured the cliffs beautifully and I love how you juxtaposed your shots with Monet’s paintings. Really enjoyed reading your post and seeing the pictures. Thank you for sharing!

  17. chrisstov says:

    Some wonderful pictures of the cliffs and of Money’s interpretation.

  18. Madhu says:

    What a lovely place Malou! We have only been to Provence and the Riviera. Hope to visit this region someday soon.

  19. I loved that you had included the history of Etretat in such a wonderful way together with the wonderful photos Malou! The first two shots – Monet’s painting from the past and your photo of the actual cliffs sent wonderful shivers! Definitely a place to consider for our family holiday. A wonderful summer and much love to all at home! Sharon

  20. What a beautiful place and you have truly captured that beauty with your photography. I always learn about so many interesting & lovely places that I’d love to visit through your posts.

  21. Hard to imagine a more appropriate setting for an impressionist, Malou. The light, color and terrain is perfect. I’d even feel like picking up a paint brush. –Curt

  22. The Sanguine says:

    I’ve always wanted to go to Normandy. Now that those paintings by Monet is set in Normandy, I want it more.
    Anyway, is it possible to go to Normandy from and return to Paris in one day?

  23. viveka says:

    Wonderful post … as always – Have never heard about the cliffs of Etretat before.
    Haven’t even seen Monet’s painting. Beautiful spot … and I love the Atlantic Ocean. Francesca totally adorable as baby too. She are such a beautiful child. Thanks for this fantastic post about a France that I have totally missed.

  24. alesica says:

    I have been gone away from my blogs so long due to illness it so refreshing to come back to something beautiful!! Thank you for liking my post although, it’s been a great while I am so happy to be back and look forward to seeing and crossing so many beautiful people and blog pages!! Love this one!! Again, thank you!!

  25. Thanks so very much for this post, Malou…I had almost forgotten the glory of Monet’s cliff paintings, and now you’ve brought those very cliffs right to my office!

    Love all these wonderful family images, such great memories for years down the road! ‘Little’ Francesca looked very precocious and happy–she has the very same look today! Love to you all!

  26. That first photo is just stunning! I love how you showed the contrast of the painting as well.

  27. What lovely photos of Etretat!
    We recently visited the memorial Nungesser and Coli up by the chapel, chasing the view found in ad old postcard – have a look here http://www.normandythenandnow.com/last-flight-of-the-white-bird-at-etretat/
    The memorial we discovered was blown up in WW2. Memorial styles certainly change! the new one is a huge white spike! But we are glad Nungesser and Coli and their bravery are not forgotten.

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