The most beautiful coastline of France is found in Normandy: the Côte d’Albâtre. This area is located between Le Havre and Le Tréport. The beautiful white high limestone cliffs are reflected beautifully in the azure blue sea water. Intimate pebble beaches lie between the high rocks. The green meadows on the cliffs provide a fascinating play of colours. It is with good reason that many impressionist painters created their most beautiful works here. Along the Côte d’Albâtre there are picturesque villages, where colourful fishing boats repose on the beaches.
The nicest places along the Côte d’Albâtre
These are the places you definitely want to see when you visit the Côte d’Albâtre. We’ll describe them from south to north so you can plan a fantastic road trip. If you want to take the route from north to south, however, the views are just as beautiful.
If you like unusual architecture, a visit to Le Havre is a must. In the Second World War, the city was almost completely destroyed. The centre was then rebuilt, with many famous architects taking care of the design. The rebuilt centre is now even on UNESCO’s world heritage list.
Special places to visit are the harbour and the Docks Vauban, Place de l’Hôtel de Ville and the Saint-Joseph church. The imposing church tower is particularly special. Be sure to take a look inside the tower and enjoy the sunlight shining on the 12,000 coloured glass tiles.
Etretat is one of the most visited places on the Côte d’Albâtre. Not only because of the cosy centre of the seaside resort with the beautiful wooden covered market but also because around the town, you will find the most photographed chalk cliffs of the region. From a distance, it looks like a stone elephant sticking its trunk into the waves of the sea. And next to it, a huge rocky needle rises proudly from the water. These are the cliffs called the Falaise d’Aval and l’Aiguille. You can see them best from vantage points on other rocks.
On the beach are the wooden boats with their cheerful colours. Together with the colourful beach huts, they also provide beautiful photo opportunities. Golf enthusiasts will be in their element in Etretat. The golf course is fantastically situated on the edge of the chalk cliffs! The players also have a beautiful view of Etretat. Since Etretat is so nice, there will be an extensive blog about this place soon.
Although Yport is a small place, it attracts a lot of tourists every year who enjoy the tranquillity and nature. The beautiful chalk cliffs and pebble beaches make it a popular seaside resort. If you like camping, the campsites at Yport are ideal. On top of the cliffs, you can enjoy a great view of the chalk cliffs. Experiencing a sunset from this spot is really special.
Along the small boulevard are photogenic beach houses. Small catering establishments are now often in these blue and white striped houses. Hikers can make an easy trip from Yport to Etretat or Fécamp. Beautiful panoramas await.
Fécamp is a sizeable town along the Côte d’Albâtre. The port was the largest cod port in France. The fishermen caught their cod in the waters of Newfoundland. The Musée les Pêcheries is dedicated to this fishing. The observation tower above the museum is special. From there, you have a beautiful view of the city. Palais Bénédictine is a museum and distillery in one. In the monumental building with its exuberant architecture, you will discover everything about the Bénédictine liqueur. A delicious drink that was discovered in this place.
Cap Fagnet is located on the north side of the city. It is a bit of a climb to get there. But then you have great views of the chalk cliffs and Fécamp. There is also the Chapelle Notre Dame de Salut. It was the chapel for the fishermen. There they did their prayers of thanks for the fish catch. The chapel has been closed for a while, but the surroundings and the viewpoints are more than worth a visit.
A little more inland lies Sassetot-le-Mauconduit. But not far from the village are a few beautiful beaches, sandwiched between the high chalk cliffs and rockface. They are Les Petites Dalles and Les Grandes Dalles. The village is not so big; the church is in the centre and life takes place around it.
The castle of Sassetot is the biggest attraction. It was to have been the summer residence of Empress Elisabeth of Austria. At the end of June 1875, Sissi arrived with an entourage of 70 people. A few months later she left again. After that, Sissi never returned. The castle is now a beautiful hotel. It is situated in a beautiful wooded park.
Veulettes-sur-Mer is a sleepy village. Ideal for those looking for peace and quiet. The main attractions are the chalk cliffs that rise north and south of the village. The village has a small boulevard with a few cosy restaurants. Especially restaurant Les Fregates is very popular with the inhabitants. We understand why, because we had a delicious dinner there.
On the cliff of Paluel, just north of the village, is the Memoire d’Albâtre. It is a place steeped in history. Many remains from the Second World War remind us of the battle that took place in Normandy. A walking trail takes you past many bunkers and remnants of the Atlantic Wall.
Saint-Valery-en-Caux is another charming port town on the Côte d’Albâtre. The outer port is the old fishing port. A little more towards the centre is a large pleasure port. Around the harbours are nice terraces. In the Second World War, there was a lot of fighting in this area. On the cliffs near the town, various monuments recall some of the important events.
The sights of the city are mainly on the east side of the port. There are the pleasant squares Place de la Marche and Place de la Chapelle. The Chapelle Notre Dame de Bon Port is located on this square. A modern church with beautiful stained-glass windows. The Saint-Valéry church is a lot more historical. This church, built of sandstone, dates from the sixteenth century. On the west side of the port, you will find the famous monastery of the Penitents.
The picturesque Veules-les-Roses is one of those gems along the Côte d’Albâtre. It is one of the oldest places in the region. Remarkably, it has a completely different atmosphere than the other places. This village of fishermen and weavers is not very big. Nevertheless, it has enough attractions to entertain you for a long time. It is not without reason that Veules-les-Roses is one of the most beautiful villages in all of France.
The smallest river in France, the Veules, flows through the village. With a length of less than 1200 metres, it winds from a canal through the village towards the sea. The best way to discover all the special places of Veules-les-Roses is to take a walk. The tourist office has mapped out a beautiful route. On the way, you pass all the highlights of the village, such as the many beautiful half-timbered houses.
Dieppe was one of the first real seaside resorts in France. Because it was close to Paris, Parisians fled the heat and bustle of the city and travelled to Dieppe. It is also an important fishing port. This is where they land the scallop, a true culinary delicacy. Dieppe is the place to enjoy this shellfish for good reason. You will come across it in many local specialities. The harbour and the nearby fish auction are well worth a visit.
The historical centre has many pleasant squares. You walk from one square to the other through small picturesque streets. Place du Puits Salé is the most famous and beautiful of them all. The église Saint-Jacques was severely damaged in the Second World War. But now, it is a place not to be missed when you visit Dieppe. Just like the Château-Musée, situated in a beautiful 15th century castle. Here you will discover everything about the maritime past of the city.
Of all the seaside villages and towns on the Côte d’Albâtre, Le Tréport still lives most at the rhythm of the sea. The fishing port best illustrates the character of this village. From the quays, you can walk through the small streets of Le Tréport. But this place also offers phenomenal views of the chalk cliffs. Here you will find the highest of Europe, with a height of almost 110 metres.
It is special to descend from the cliffs with a cable car to the district “les Cordiers”. Afterwards, be sure to walk to the Place de la Poissonnerie. On this fishermen’s square, you can buy the tastiest fresh fish or other sea specialities. On one of the many cosy terraces you can enjoy the local speciality: omelette filled with mussels and shrimps.
Hiking in the Côte d’Albâtre
Walking is the best way to experience the beauty of the Côte d’Albâtre. You will see the enormous variety of breathtaking landscapes, the jagged chalk cliffs and of course the picturesque places along the coast. The views are different every time, but always great.
There is a reason why the Long-Distance Footpath GR 21 is one of the most beautiful multi-day hikes you can do in France; the route runs all along the coastline. Of course, you don’t have to do the whole 190 kilometres. You can also choose to do a few stages or a day trip from one of the towns along the Côte d’Albâtre.
The path is manageable for any hiker. In addition, the markings are perfect. We have explored the coastline this way and enjoyed it a lot. Later on, there will be a blog about our experiences along the GR 21 trail.
Tips for your trip to the Côte d’Albâtre
The best time to visit Côte d'Albâtre is in the spring or summer months. During this period, you are most likely to have long periods of sunshine and least likely to have long rainy days. However, as the weather is similar to that in our country, it can be changeable.
The region has many beautiful gites, campsites, bed and breakfasts, holiday homes and hotels. In the high season, these are quickly fully booked. Therefore, book your accommodation in time when you visit the Côte d'Albâtre in the summer holidays. This is the offer in the nicest places: