Driving in France
In June/July 2006 we had a 9 day driving holiday in France. We caught a car ferry from Dover to Calais, drove down through Normandy, popped into Brittany and then caught the ferry back to Dover from Boulogne-sur-Mer.
We chose to take our own car over, as the cost of the ferry and petrol was significantly cheaper than flying from London and hiring a car in France. I also feel a lot more comfortable travelling in our own car as opposed to a hire car.
The only negative thing about driving our car in France is that it is a right hand drive car, and French cars are left hand drive, which means that tolls/tickets machines etc are on the wrong side of the car for the driver to operate…luckily I was able to assist in these duties from the passenger seat, but I do feel sorry for the solo traveller in these situations.
Driving in France is great. The roads are good and the sign posting is excellent. You can hoon along on the wide tollways/freeways, or travel along pretty coastal roads, soaking up the atmosphere of the French countryside. Just remember which side of the road you have to drive on if you come over from the UK.
- Road Trip
Parking at Etretat.
Getting at Etretat is not difficult; from the north-east it is by the D940 coming from Fécamp, or by the same D940 when coming from Le Havre in the south.
For us begin May on a week day parking at the nearest parking of the beach was easy at 11 h but at 14 h this pay parking place du Général De Gaulle at a few meters from the promenade was full. This parking has about 150 places. Price 4 €/3 hours, 5 €/5 hours.
Along the beach but more to the right side there is a smaller parking at the Place Victor Hugo.
There is another parking at the Halles-Marché Couvert at about 100 m from the beach and one at the Mairie Place Guillard 200 m from the beach.
On the road to Le Havre D940 there is a large parking under the trees at about 800 m from the beach (at the start of the Chemin de Valaine near the golf of Etretat).
In the season one should expect the parking's in the centre to be full.
The town authorities of Etretat have recently decided to have all parking's for pay.
The bus - Part one - from Le Havre
It is impossible to reach Etretat directly by train but there are buses that will take you there.
From Le Havre the name of the bus company is "Les Autos Cars Gris" and you catch the buses right outside of the train station in the back. Line 24 goes from Le Havre to Etretat and takes about an hour. The schedule is straightforward with various buses running on various days but one thing to note is that you must coordinate the bus departure time with the train time (if you are continuing on to Paris or elsewhere) otherwise you will get stuck sitting around in the boring Le Havre train station. Unfortunately they do not have a website and the information that you get on the SNCF site is complicated at best.
I suggest that you write or call and ask them to send you a schedule.
Les Auto Cars Gris
8, avenue Gambetta
The price for a one way Le Havre/Etretat ticke is 3.70 euros (a very good deal when you consider that a taxi will set you back 50 euros).
- Budget Travel
The bus - Part two - from Breaute
Same instructions and address as in part one except this time you take the ligne 17 from Breaute. I'm going to do it this way next time because it's quicker and cheaper.
For example: On a Friday , leave Paris St Lazare at 17:58 arrive Breaute at 19:48, then take the bus at 19:58 and arrive Etretat at 20:28.
This only takes 2:30 instead of over three hours when you change at Le Havre. I had to learn this the hard way because the information on the SNCF site was not clear.
The price for a one way ticket is 3.20 euros.
- Budget Travel
The train - SNCF
Take the train from Gare St Lazare in Paris to either Breaute or Le Havre and then take the bus as outlined in the tips above. All the trains will have Le Havre as final destination so it's not such a big deal to fall asleep.
Once again I stress that you must coordinate train arrival with bus departure. I spent 4 hours in the Le Havre train station on the way there because I didn't coordinate properly. The station is really dreary, there is no place to store your luggage if you want to have a walk around, and there is nothing interesting to see near the station. Also the door to the toilettes wouldn't lock.
Nothing like the Gare St Lazare where you can have something to eat and people watch; it too was the subject of a painting by Monet.
108, Rue Saint-Lazare; 8th Arrondissement
- Budget Travel
Bus from Le Havre to Etretat
I haven't actually travelled to Etretat yet, but I'm planning to take trip there from Paris. aemilys' useful advice about getting to Etretat encouraged me to investigate the Autocars Gris. I managed to come across this useful Etretat tourist office website: www.etretat.net. Click on the 'Bus' logo along the top right hand side and you'll find more information about your train from Paris with a bus to Etretat. There's a downloadable timetable of the Le Havre - Etretat - Fecamp bus route in PDF format.
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