The Locals Guide to Hike the Cliffs of Etretat, France

You'll probably recognize the location, but might not be able to name it. Monet famously painted these chalk white cliffs located about two and a half hours from Paris and an hour from Honfleur. The Cliffs of Etretat are located in the region of Normandy in the town of Etretat and are definitely worth heading off the beaten path to experience. As I planned our mother/daughter trip to France, hiking the cliffs was high on our list, but I didn't find a lot of information on where to park, what trail to walk and how to experience them. We got lucky and stumbled on a lesser-known footpath once used by fishermen, and found that it was the perfect way to hike the cliffs without the typical tourist crowds. Want to know the best way to hike the Cliffs of Etretat? Read on!


The Locals Guide to Hiking the Cliffs of Etretat


The Cliffs of Etretat are famous for their three distinct natural arches and white chalk cliffs overlooking the English Channel and the Atlantic Ocean. Many impressionist artists {most famously Claude Monet}, have painted the cliffs and many others have taken inspiration from this area including them in popular books and 

The cliffs are located in the upper Normandy region about two and a half hours from Paris, making it an easy day trip, or the perfect start to your Normandy road trip.

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The Best Way to See the Cliffs of Etretat

I spent a lot of time researching our trip but had a very difficult time finding information about the best way to access the cliffs. If arriving by car, parking is limited, so we actually stumbled upon what I think is the best route for hiking the Cliffs of Etretat.

The Cliffs of Etretat are popular for locals and tourists alike. In order to find the "hidden" road less traveled, I've got the path mapped out for you!

This route isn't marked {though some research I've done shows that they are working on marking it}, so take screenshots of these directions. Several times, you will inevitably feel like you are going the wrong way or you are doing it wrong! I promise you, head towards the water and you'll stumble upon it!

We went on a beautiful spring day in the late morning and saw two other people the whole walk to the cliffs. This path is definitely the local's footpath.


The Locals Footpath to Cliffs of Etretat

If you have a car or RV, park in the Rue d'Antifer carpark. This location is on the outskirts of the town of Etretat. There are several paid parking lots and free public restroom facilities. The car parking is across the street, and the RV parking is on the side of the street the trail starts on.

*pro tip, the pay station has a button to switch to English, so make sure you start your session with that, otherwise it will be very confusing!

Once parked, walk towards the RV parking lot. It will be on your right-hand side walking. Head up the unmarked trail that curves slightly to the left and uphill. 

You'll walk under shaded trees for about a quarter mile before the path turns right. Follow the trail to the right and continue to walk past farm areas on this footpath. 

Continue walking through the farmlands until you come to the end of the road and it t's off. Turn left. You will eventually see the edge of the golf course on your right through a wire fence. 

There will be a sign that says Valleuse d'Antifer. At this point, you'll see the clearing that the cliffs make and you'll continue walking to the opening of the fence.

This path is about 2 km from the car park.

Once you get to this area, head to the path on the right to take you to the famous rock cliff formations.

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Experience the Cliffs of Etretat

cliffs like a local etretat france


These are cliffs with solid drop-offs. Stay on the path and be aware of your surroundings.

Know the Tides

You can head down to the beach but know the tides! The tides come in quickly and tourists often get stuck as the tide comes in. Be cautious and don't go to the beach with less than two hours before high tide.

Bring Water 

The first part of this hike is covered with trees in the beautiful countryside, but it quickly opens up and there is little shade. Bring water and extra sun coverage.

Be Prepared!

The bugs were letting us know that they were there first, so bring bug spray if you have it. Thankfully, they aren't the biting kind, just the annoying kind, but they will land on you and bother you, so be prepared.

Hiking shoes aren't required, but you should wear appropriate footwear. Sneakers are fine, flip flops might be more of a challenge.


Plan Your Stay

Plan to stay 2-3 hours on this out and back hike. This is not a loop hike! If you walk it like it is, plan for a VERY long day! With the additional jaunt through the countryside at the beginning of the hike, this hike is around 4 miles or 6.5 km. 

Hiking the Cliffs of Etretat was one of the highlights of our trip. We loved exploring the region of Normandy and I think you will too! There isn't a lot of information on this hike, especially on this lesser-known version of the hike, so make sure you pin this, bookmark it, and save it for your next adventure! I promise you'll love it as much as we did!

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