Kayaking at Étretat

The Best Excursion along the Cliffs of Normandy

Kayaking at Étretat is probably the best way to explore the steep chalk cliffs. For sure it is a unique way to experience the area. From the beach by the village along the coast of Normandy, it is easy to rent a kayak or canoe. The weather in this part of France tends to be wonderfully pleasant, leading to significantly calm waves. This allows for easy navigation along the rugged coasts and natural arches. I embarked on this journey at the end of the day, under notably gentle light. Below you'll find some great tips for kayaking at Étretat.

You can explore the coastline of Étretat on foot. However, from the water, the view of the towering cliffs is unparalleled. And you can get remarkably close to the three natural arches. In fact, in calm weather, you can glide through them at your leisure. This aspect brings a unique appeal, especially in crafting astonishing photographs and videos of your journey. You can procure a waterproof barrel for all your belongings on-site. Be sure to secure it well to your kayak. During your journey, you will encounter various marine creatures, including seabirds, seals and perhaps even dolphins.

Watch My Video

Want to stay informed about all my new travel videos? Subscribe to my YouTube channel.

What Does the Kayak and Canoe Excursion Look Like?

As you stroll along the beach near the village, the kayaks will naturally come into view. You can rent these on an hourly basis. Allow yourself plenty of time, it's more beautiful than you anticipate. And you'll find yourself making several stops along the way. Most visitors follow the coastline, the first natural arch is already in sight. Named Falaise d'Aval, it's world-famous from its appearances in films and television series.

You can certainly continue sailing along the coast. It's often notably tranquil here, quite the opposite of the walking paths at Étretat. In total, you'll be able to see three natural arches - but be prepared to spend several hours on this journey. So, make sure you bring along water and some food. You'll have the perfect opportunity to enjoy a delightful picnic along the way.

En route, you will experience breathtaking views of the coastline, cliffs and expansive sea. The combination of rugged nature and calm water creates an enchanting spectacle. This tour was the absolute highlight of my trip through Normandy.

The Unique Waterfall

The unique waterfall at sea: Pisseuses of Valaine. ©Corno van den Berg

I find the most extraordinary place is a seaside waterfall named Pissueses or Valaine. You can land with the kayak, allowing you to take some rest and enjoy the waterfall. Be sure to place the kayak far enough onshore to prevent it from drifting away. The waterfall is, in my view, surprisingly beautiful. You can even feel the (cold) water that flows through the rocks. On a warm day, the water is refreshingly cool. 

Caves and Beaches

The beauty of Falaise La Manneporte. ©Corno van den Berg

Along the coastline, you can discover a variety of small beaches and caves. Often, these are only accessible from the water. These secluded spots frequently offer tranquillity and are phenomenal to explore during your kayaking journey. I thrive on these kind of discovery trips, especially when there are few people around.  

Be Aware!

Be sure to monitor the waves and wind on your journey. You're kayaking on open sea, which can indeed be challenging in adverse winds. Likewise, large waves can make it a struggle to return to the beach. If the wind is too strong and the weather is poor, hiring a kayak is, understandably, not an option.

More Articles About Normandy