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Etretat: snow-white cliffs from the paintings of the Impressionists


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Etretat: snow-white cliffs from the paintings of the Impressionists


The idyllic landscapes of Normandy are well known for their paintings by Manet, Courbet and Delacroix, the romantic solitude of pebble beaches (and local oysters at the same time) were sung by French novelists in their books. The small town of Etretat embodied all the charming charms of the Norman coast and rightfully won the fame of a prestigious resort. People come here for silence and inspiration, spend their honeymoon and play golf on the manicured fields located above the sea. A small number of attractions are offset by the beauty of nature and beautiful ecology.

Geographical location and landscape features

The city of Etretat is located in the north-west of France, on the English Channel, called Alabaster. Belongs to the Department of Seaside Seine: from Paris here to get a little more than two hours, the nearest major city is Rouen. Etretat is built on a rocky plateau of limestone and silicon, the height of the rocks is about 80 m. Under the influence of wind, sea and rainwater, chalky limestone was washed out and grottoes and arches formed, which eventually became the hallmark of the resort.

Etretat's story

For the first time, the name of the city, which can be translated as “sunset farm”, was used at the end of the 18th century: before that there was a fishing village, probably founded by the Vikings. A reminder of Etretat’s Scandinavian past is the legend of the girl Olivia and a nearby source named after her.

During the reign of the Roman governors, lively trade routes passed along the Alabaster coast: this is confirmed by the finds of archaeologists and the remains of the destroyed aqueduct. From the first third of the 19th century, Etretat has come into fashion with Bohemia as a creative resort, villas begin to be built, the time comes for theater and casino. Over time, a road was laid for omnibuses, then a railway was drawn between neighboring Le Havre and Fecamp, which caused a new surge of interest in the resort. Creative people begin to come to Etretat, creating additional fame for this place. Famous people who lived and worked here: Corot, Boden, Delacroix, Manet, Monet, Polenov, Dumas, Hugo, Maupassant, Offenbach.

The paintings of many masters depict the main symbols of Etretat - the rock formations "Triple Arch" and "Needle" created by nature. The most convenient location to view these miraculous masterpieces is located above the customs path described by Maupassant. Maurice Leblanc in The Hollow Needle gives the legend of the treasures hidden here. By the standards of top tourist places in Etretat there are not many attractions, but this town has something to interest guests:

  • Monument to pilots Nangesseri and Kolya, whose single-engine white bird biplane crashed over Etretat in 1927, interrupting their dream of flying across the Atlantic
  • Memorial House of writer Maurice Leblanc
  • Church of Notre Dame de la Garde, in which, according to the old tradition, the day is celebrated for the blessing of the sea
  • Small colorful castle of Des Aigues
  • A walk through the places described by Georges Simenon in the novel Megreux and the Old Lady.

Oyster nursery

At the initiative of the Queen of France Marie Antoinette, trendsetter and big gourmet, an oyster farm was built in Étretat. The oysters brought on small ships were kept for several months in special cages, alternating seawater with fresh water from underground sources, so that the mollusks found special tenderness. Then they were surrounded by algae, loaded into special boxes and immediately sent to the capital to the royal table. The remains of the nursery on the coast can still be seen.

The object belongs to the resorts.

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