I do count myself lucky to be able to live by the sea. The sound of crashing waves and sea gulls squawking, the taste of salty sea air being blown around you and smelling sweet Nutella crepes being made in the small beach huts make me SO happy.
In Normandy, France there are loads of pretty as a picture beaches to discover and just a short car journey away. We are totally spoilt. One of the largest and popular ones is Etretat. Famed for its jagged white cliffs, array of fancy restaurants lining the long pebble beach and the ‘elephant trunk’ naturally formed needle plunging into the sea. Ok, so it’s a little tourist heavy, especially in the summer months where coach loads arrive daily to eat an artisanal ice-cream and dip their toe in the cooling waters. But it is so pretty you can understand why.
It’d be rude to keep it all to ourselves.
One of the best ways to arrive in the town is by jumping on the velo-rail train touristique (I could not get the Simpsons mono rail song out of my head the whole journey). A knackered looking old railway line in the small town Les Loges that they’ve converted into equally knackered looking five person bikes. Jump on and pedal away following the route, it’s all downhill so not much puff is needed. As the bike creaks away past lush green fields (apart from Ireland, Normandy is one of the greenest places I’ve ever visited), make sure you say bonjour to the cows. When you get to a stop point, you actually have to get off and push the bike over the road before jumping back on and cycling off.
Saddle sore but sides hurting from laughing at the bone shaking journey stumble your way to Le Clos Lupin, the home of Maurice LeBlanc’s, the author who created the popular French character Arsene Lupin, a suave gentleman burglar, back in 1905. You can get an audio tour of the stunning higgledy piggledy house with oh-so-chic headphones explaining the history in French or English. You can even spot a fake Mona Lisa and the views from his writing room that will make any wannabe novelist jealous.
Then it’s time to work up an appetite by trekking your way up the cliffs. The walk is steep and exposed in the sun (if you managed to bag a sunny day that is) but well worth it as the views are jaw dropping. Make out the elephant trunk or needle? Catch your breath half way up as you explore a small crumbling lookout tower then push on to the top for an Instagram perfect panorama. Even if you have to compete with sea gulls for the best spot of the view.
Winding back down to the earth and treat yourself to an ice-cream sat on the beach or even a quick dip. The town centre is also worth a look around as it is full of pretty boutiques, independent shops and famous bakeries. You know the baguettes must be good when you see people patiently queueing out of the door to buy one! Doughn’t miss out.
Isn’t life a beach?