Day 1: Étretat

We made it to France! Having arranged a direct flight to Paris, we successfully eliminated any dramatic airline stories from this first blog entry. Instead, let us tell you that we prepared for the trip by purchasing France-themed M&Ms and doing a ceremonial Chartreuse shot before we headed to O’Hare!

France trip pre-gaming

Upon arriving at Charles de Gaulle International, we deplaned, passed through customs, and found our bags happily circling around the conveyor belt awaiting pick up. CDG is not the easiest airport to navigate — and it was definitely a zoo today for some reason — but we eventually managed to exchange some money and find a Relay store with the SIM card we wanted. (Fun fact: Setting up SIM cards is super easy for everybody on the planet except us)

Picking up our rental from Europcar, they told us they did not have anything similar to the Toyota hybrid model we signed up for (boo!) but in exchange, they offered us a Mercedes C Class (nice!), which also came with navigation, buying us the extra time we needed to get the data plan working on the SIM card. (Seriously, how does everybody else understand SIM cards better than us?)

I guess we’ll accept the Mercedes instead of a Toyota

Matt handled the Parisian traffic with ease, despite the fact that motorcycles appear to have no inclination or legal duty to acknowledge Rules of the Road over here. After a comfortable and scenic drive north, we made it to Étretat just before 5PM. Navigating narrow streets, we found La Castel De Terrasse and admired the grandeur of the place.

Castel de la Terrasse, our humble abode tonight

Our host Estelle introduced us to the resident seagulls (yes, that’s right) and explained why our guest room is themed after famous French writer Maurice Leblanc. She also suggested the best way to explore the Cliffs De Étretat and where to find the best seafood.

These boats aren’t going to sail themselves people!

Once a popular retreat for impressionist artists such as Monet and Manet, the Cliffs de Étretat are still a popular tourist destination. Before dinner, we hiked up part of the western cliff(s) called Falaise D’Aval to set down some of the natural splendor.

Looking west from Falaise D’Aval at La Manne Forte

Humans for scale! Falaise D’Amont In distance

La Chambre des Demoiselles and Ètretat beach

We walked back to town for our dinner reservation at La Marie Antoinette. We bravely tried the oysters, but stuck to cooked fish for our main course. We also had our first French bread and French bottle of wine, so I’d say dinner was a success.

Good oysters. Delicious seafood. And check out that dog in a suit!

Afterwards, in preparation for sunset, we walked back to the cliffs and explored Falaise D’Amont to the east. We hiked up past the church, beyond the field of dairy cows, then back down to the beach via a rocky staircase and a small 40ish-yard tunnel through the cliff.

Chapelle Norte-Dame de la Garde

Shadows climb the cliffs

Low tide reveals hidden skulls… just checking if you’re reading the captions.

Falise D’Amont at low tide

Entrance to Le Chaudron tunnel and MarioKart shortcut.

Watch out for the super rare rock jellyfish

Getting a perfect shot of…

…this seagull enjoying the sun setting on Falaise D’Aval

Golden hour sinks below La Mancha (English Channel)

Throughly impressed with the views and satisfied with our hike and dinner, we walked back to the Castel de Terrasse to end the night. Day One was a success (amazing weather!) and we are hoping to keep the trend going.

10 Comments on “Day 1: Étretat”

  1. Well, you’re of to an amazing start! Beautiful and successful!

  2. It looks amazing! I hope you continue to have the great weather and seamless travels.

  3. You made it! and the weather looks amazing! Hoping that continues. Beautiful ocean side scenery. [About the skulls – I found one! hiding right behind the ‘rare rock jelly fish’! Heehee!]. Love the photo of the two of you. Enjoy your journey!

  4. What a great first day! The first photo of La Manne Forte appears to be the same rock formation as a scene that Monet famously painted! However, his painting is in reverse and the name is Manne-Porte, Etretat! So there must be other similar cliff formations! Anyway, as always all of your photos are paintable material! Thank you for taking such diligent time to create awesome trip blogs. You two rock! May great weather follow you on your fun journey!

  5. I envy you eating French food all week! Yum! Great pictures.

    • Roundabouts are not a problem 🙂 Motorcyclists who think they are invincible are much more obnoxious. Also, the Benz is automatic.

  6. Yeah, the French view laws as more of a guideline than a strict rule. Always invaded, never governed.

    Also it isn’t just you, my sister-in-law had an odyssey with her prepaid SIM and it took days to activate.

    Etretat looks AMAZING! So glad you started there.

  7. And yes, I did read the captions.. the skulls at low tide.

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