Danger of falling stones. Do not walk under the cliffs.
At the end of the seafront promenade "du perrey" the warning panels are fixed on a bunker from the WW II "Atlantic Wall" defending the beach from a landing by sea by the Allied forces.
There is also a very useful panel with the tides as the walks along the cliffs and the "trou à l'homme" can only be done at low tide.
Gulls can be rather annoying once they become too familiar with humans, especially tourists eating fish and chips near the beach. In Etretat as nobody eats fish and chips on the promenade they behave in a quiet way and seem not to be a nuisance.
Giving them anything to eat is forbidden.
In French we call "mouettes" the smaller gulls and "goélands" the larger ones. Both are present on the coast of Etretat.
Blocks fallen from the cliff are rolled by the waves, losing their matrix of chalk and are transformed into pebbles. Knapped the flint can be white or black and decorate house fronts.
Until the begin of the 20th c. thousand tons of pebbles were collected by hand on the beaches of Normandy and transported on the back of man, woman or horse to feed the glass industry or build houses in the harbors.
This is now forbidden in Etretat. The pebbles protect the town from floods during storms and limit the erosion of the cliffs.
You are not allowed to take a single pebble away as mentioned on the warning panels.
For those who want to want to fly with air/hang gliders or parapets by using the vertical air produced by these cliffs, do so when it’s low tide. I saw someone who had to make an emergency landing and if it wasn’t high tide, he landed in sea… and it was very cold and far away from any rescuers or eye witness’s !! I've just took this picture when he hit the ground after strugling to gain more altidute...
As there is a possibility to walk on the shore that is only possible when it is low tide, keep in mind to have at least one hour of safety margin when you leave. Once you are trapped on a beach it is unlikely that someone will spot you and you jeopardise your life as the sea may be pretty rough over there! In any case make sure you keep a mobile phone in your pocket!
Part of my love for Etretat stems from the fact that the town really worries about your safety. Check out all the postings around the beach...
And please do heed the warnings, especially the one about the tides. One of the waitresses I met told me that just the day before a group of tourists had to be rescued because they were trapped by the rising tides. This is expensive for the town and completely avoidable if you just use a little common sense and wear a watch.
As the cliffs are very steep you have to mind any falling rocks or stones. So if you walk on the shores make sure you keep a save distance!