Chalk cliffs in Normandy
Allthough it’s been a while that we took this trip I want to present this beautiful region in France to you anyway. In total we spent 17 days there and visited the coast of Normandy and Brittany. A trip with breathtaking natural sights, lovely old towns and villages and of course a lots of great food. During the trip we had beautiful weather all the time and so I can presnt a lot of wonderful pictures. Today I will present part one of this voyage.
Dieppe – a traditional seaside resort
Early in the morning we left Munich and reached Dieppe in the evening with only a few short breaks on the road. The drive was rather long (approx. 620 miles). If that’s too long for you, you could spend a night somewhere in between. Our hotel sits right on the beach promenade. It is modern and tasetfully decorated and we are pretty excited. After the long drive we need some exercise. So we freshen up a bit and start exploring.
The promenade reminds a bit one of those english seaside resort towns. The pebble beach is almost deserted in the early evening. To the left and the right the typical chalky cliffs of this region tower over the turquoise sea. What is missing on this promenade are nice cafés and bars where you could admire the view over the ocean. Behind it there is a grassy strip with playgrounds and even a minigolf court. This looks pretty nice but not really spectacular.
So we continue to the town center. There we stroll a bit through the pederstrian zone in the Grande Rue. Along the street we see a few nice shops but the overall impression is a bit „gone by“. Just as if the twon had seen better days in the past. On the other hand this adds some typical charme. When we come across a supermarket that is still open we buy some food for dinner.
Excursion along the Alabaster Coast
Well refreshed we enjoy a hearty breakfast the next morning before leaving for a tour along the coast. First we visit the port of Dieppe which is surrounded by beautiful old houses. I would say this is the nicest part of town. After a quick tour we continue to the top of the cliffs which sits on the eastern side of town. There is a church we have seen from the port already.
Just like many other churches on the coast this is dedicated to the seamen to pray for a safe return. The women that were waiting here for their men to return home had a good viewing point and could see the ships from afar. Today there is nobody waiting anymore. The ships have modern technology. But you should come up here and enjoy the fantastic view.
These cliffs are just fascinating. And the mixture of all those colours breathtaking. The turquoise sea, the white of the rocks and the blue of the sky. And all of this bathed in a milky light. I could stay here for another while.
But we do have a program for this day and so we continue our tour. Which leads us eastwards.
Le Tréport – quaint seaside resort
It’s just about 18 miles we have to drive to Le Tréport. This town lives from the sea and with it’s rhythm. During summer the number of inhabitants triples (from 5,000 to 15,000). A lot of visitors come to se mainlands highest chalk rock that rises almost 350 ft. over the ocean. We are looking for a parking lot along the river and start our tour.
Through the narrow alleys of the old town we can see the chalk cliffs from time to time in the west. But first we walk to the port. Along the street there are a few restaurants and bars and on the beach there is a casino. That doesn’t attrcat us much, though. But there is something else that captures our interest. The lighthouse looks great.
At the end of the beach there is a cable car that usually would bring you to the top of the cliffs. When we were visiting it was under renovation and so we stayed down by the water.
At the lighthouse we took a longer break. That view was just too amazing. And again this play of colours. Say yourself, isn’t that just beautiful? On the gravel beach you can rent beach chairs. There is just a good book missing. I could stay here for a couple of days. For lunch one of those great omelettes that are being garnished with mussels and shrimps here. A dream come true.
Just on the other side of the river sits another village that has another attraction on offer.
Mers-les-Bains with it’s colourful promenade
To get to Mers-les-Bains we have to walk back to the town center. From there we can cross a bridge to the other side. At first we have to pass through a not so beautiful port quarter to get back to the ocean. There we come across a lot of huts that are being used as changing and storage rooms for the beach goers. Here you can lock all your valuables while you enjoy a day at the beach.
The main attraction of this village is by far the promenade. One Belle-Époque villa sits next to the other like the pearls on a necklace. If it wouldn’t be for the cars, you could get the impression of having travelled back in time by a hundred years or so. What is missing are a few nice beach bars and cafés in which you’d have the choice of admiring either the turquoise sea or the architectural master pieces
At last we do come across a café where we have a refreshment. But more because we have to use the restroom than out of enthusiasm. Apart from this one street we couldn’t find anything worth to see. But you should have walked along this promenade at least once.
Since we were driving so far the day before we don’t go to see any other sights today and drive back to Dieppe. There we stroll a bit through the old town and look for a nice restaurant for that evening. The choice is large. The first day of our vacation was a real treat. And we are curious what else is there in store for us during this trip.
Étretat – the pearl of the alabaster coast
Day two in Normandy brings us to one of the highlights of our trip. About 50 miles to the west of Dieppe there is a natural spectacle to be seen. Pictures from Étretat will bring traffic to your instagram account. We begin the day with a short visit of Fécamp, knwon for it’s Bénédictine liquor and the Palace where it was originally manufactured. Today it is a museum and is used for cultural events. Since we can’t find a parking spot and the town doesn’t look too inviting to us we continue right away.
Just a few miles down the road it get’s really spectacular. Étretat is know for it’s out of the ordinary cliffs. Mainly the large bow that is spanning across the ocean here.
Her too we first try to find a parking spot in the center but have to realise that there is none to find. So we follow a sign leading us uphill to the top of the cliffs. There we find a parking lot that charges a small fee. And a breathtaking view. Down in the center we had bought some things for a picnic and decide to sit down here for lunch with a great view.
But first we are going for a small hike along the rocks. It is pretty windy up here and allthough it is rather warm we are happy to have brought our jackets. Unfortunately it is imossible to sit down and eat. Too bad. The few places close to that chapel where you would be safe from the wind are already taken. So we admire the rocks and the view for another while. And the seagulls that are sailing in the strong wind, too.
We have lunch in the car before we start the drive back to Dieppe. On our way back we use the road along the coast and stop a couple of times at quaint villages.
Saint-Valéry-en-Caux, a cute seaside resort
So we discover this quaint little village of Saint-Valéry-en-Caux. Along this nicely with flowers decorated promenade there are some nice houses. It emanates a relaxed holiday atmosphere.
By now it is early in the evening and the village seems to be dead empty. But at the end of June the season hasn’t really started yet. But it’s really beautiful here. The village had been destroyed in WWII but they did a great job rebuilding it. There is just one awful thing in the middle of this beauty. And this sits right on the beach. A large piece of land has been covered with concrete and serves as a parking lot for the beach. What a shame.
The beach itself is beautiful. When we get there it’s low tide and the sea has been gone far out. This view of the seemingly never ending row of white cliffs is amazing. To the left and to the right it runs all the way to the horizon. Unfortunately there is a strong wind here too. But that doesn’t keep us from enjoying the fresh and salty air fo another while. That’s a vacation as it shoud be.
We have to drive back to Dieppe to our hotel. The next day we will continue to our next destination and have to pack our stuff before doing so. The first part of our trip comes to an end. And what we have seen so far was very much to our liking.
Great architecture, breathtaking nature and lots of real french flair. We sure will be back one day. Did you ever visit the alabaster coast and want to share some highlights with the ones that haven’t been there yet?