Exploring France’s Own Coastal Cliffs
Imagine, for a moment, scaling tall seaside cliffs overlooking a seemingly endless ocean, met in the distance only by the horizon. The grassy ledge feels like the edge of the world and, as you look out on a view so breathtaking, you wonder how you could be so lucky as to visit this iconic place.
No, I’m not talking about the world famous Cliffs of Moher. Or even a coastal pathway in Britain. The view I’m describing belongs to a neighbour: France’s own stunning cliffs along the coast of Normandy.
The French Falaises
Les Falaises d’Étretat, or the Cliffs of Étretat, are a unique feature for a country with 3,427 km of coastline. Layers of chalky rock reflect the passage of time, and one can almost imagine when this sea-facing wall may have been connected with another. The cliffs consist of three naturally occurring arches and what is known as the ‘needle’. Two of the three arches, Porte d’Aval and Porte d’Amont, can be seen from town; however, to truly enjoy the view and to see the third arch, Manneport, one must traverse the sloping cliff-side.
Scaling the Cliffs
An ocean-side walking trails offers visitors a wonderful opportunity to explore the cliffs, and of course experience the remarkable view up top. The trail is well-maintained and easy for people of all ages to enjoy. Walking the cliffs edge, the path looks out onto the English Channel, an intoxicating mix of blue hues with water and sky reflecting one another. The top of the cliffs are covered with varieties of grass and plants, however on the walking trail one gets a glimpse of the chalk and tan-coloured earth that make up these slopes.
Stepping away from the edge, there are also opportunities to explore the rock from a more intimate perspective. A small bridge at the Falaise Aval leads to the interior of the rock, giving visitors the opportunity to see, touch and experience the cliffs from the inside-out.
More to See (and eat)
After a few hours of hiking the cliffs, plenty awaits visitors in Étretat. A large pebble beach connects the Porte d’Aval and Porte d’Amont, and is the perfect place for a cool dip in the sea after the journey. The quaint town also has plenty to offer visitors, especially when it comes to cuisine. The Normandy region is infamous for many delicacies, including its fresh seafood. Oysters and scallops are featured on many local menus, however it’s the more simple mussels that will truly impress. Apples are also featured strongly in the regional cuisine, and a meal of moules marinières and a clay pot of strong apple cidre is the perfect ending to a day spent at the Falaises.
Share a memory from your favourite coastal journey with us in the comments below!