Étretat

19 Sep

Comte on French roadtrip – on French road map.

We picked up our rental car in Paris, and planned to return it in a week in the south of France. I’ll confess – the few kilometers that we needed to drive in order to get out of Paris proper was the distance on this entire trip that had been creating the most anxiety for me. And so, I’m still not sure if the rental agent was joking or not when he (completely straight-faced) recommended taking the Champs Elysee down to the Arc de Triomphe roundabout (Place de l’Étoile) to get out of town. As Wikipedia, o’ venerable keeper of Internet knowledge explains, “There is an urban myth that motor insurance companies will not cover driving around the Étoile, which is not strictly true. Insurance companies generally cover motor accidents only on the Étoile under a ‘knock-for-knock agreement,’ whereby each insurance company will pay for losses by its own policyholder, provided that the other party’s insurance company agrees to do the same for the other policyholder.” Hmmm, “not strictly true?” Still doesn’t sound like a good idea to me. So we deviated from the advised route, and I now have a terrific mental image of us (perhaps insurance-covered) driving just under the Eiffel Tower. Really.

The cliffs, Étretat.

Travel by car in France is exactly how you’d picture it. There are modern freeways & tollways & suspension bridges in beautiful condition; there are tiny winding roads through postcard villages and along sunny coastlines & cutting across fields of sunflowers and lavender as far as you can see in any direction; there are half of the world’s roundabouts located in France, and we drove around many of them; there’s thoroughly obnoxious & repetitive euro pop rock on the radio.

The cliffs, Étretat.

Étretat, our first destination, is a study in scale. Dramatic, wind-shaped cliffs dotted with lighthouses and golf courses drop into a sparkling sea, and you lose all sense of perspective. One of those photos-don’t-do-this-justice places, it’s a jungle-gym for all ages. We climbed up; we climbed down; we peeked into and out of caves & crevices, along a rocky shoreline with algae drying in the sun and notices listing the times of the tides.

If you look really close, you can see the little rope beckoning you to climb up, Étretat.

We picnicked with the birds and ate moules-frites in a picture-perfect Normandy seaside town. We battled Italian camper-cars for parking spaces and hotel rooms in the center of town, and found ourselves completely alone on the shore at low tide.

Leek & Provencal quiche. Etretat.

Moules-frites Normandes, Etretat

Those pesky rabbits! near Étretat.

We stayed in a super-pleasant chambre d’hôte in the countryside not far from the town, where the owners converted an old mill-house and now spend their time picking fruit, making preserves, chasing the occasional rabbit out of the vegetable patch, and welcoming guests from all over to spend the night & have a cup of coffee in the morning.

After a winding roadtrip down the coast and the purchase of some (typically expensive French) sunscreen, we’ll head farther south in Normandy. . .

Étretat.

And here’s the whole picture, Étretat.

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3 Responses to “Étretat”

  1. Lua Kozlow September 21, 2010 at 3:29 pm #

    Wow Christine! I am very much enjoying following your world traveling adventures! I am so envious! At least I can live vicariously through you. The most exciting thing happening to me now is the appearance of a bold mouse at work. It came up really close to Matt yesterday in Satellite. Less than a foot away from him on the counter!

    • ladybug-go September 24, 2010 at 6:45 am #

      Hi lady! I’m so happy to hear from you. Actually, I think that sounds hilarious, what’s its name? Miss you guys –

      • Lua Kozlow September 25, 2010 at 6:58 pm #

        The mouse doesn’t have a name other than, “The Mouse”, and “It”. I have yet to see this elusive rodent. It seems to only like Matt for some reason. It could be because the mouse can probably smell “Cat” on me. Kitty fur seems to follow me everywhere. It’s my own fault for having a Silver Tabby Persian. :)

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