Living Vicariously As A Peripatetic Shutterbug

{ More musings from the Cantankerous Old Mule }

The one where the photographer goes in search of Arsène Lupin on the Normandy coast

Have you ever heard of the small farming and tourist town of Étretat north-east of Le Havre on the coast of Normandy? I hadn’t, but when the twin suggested we take a drive there on one of the few sunny days we’ve enjoyed in the last two weeks, I said, “why not?” We packed picnic lunches, our warmest clothes, and off we went, taking the long, scenic route.

I knew that the D-day landings in the Second World War had taken place on the same coast, but that was further south. And one can see why. Étretat is known for its cliffs (which remind one somewhat of the White Cliffs of Dover on the English coast) three natural arches and a “needle.” (You will see what I’m talking about in my photos.)

Another much-photographed feature is the Notre-Dame de la Garde chapel, which dominates the Amont cliffs above the town.

The town attracted painters like Henri Matisse and Claude Monet, as well as writer Maurice Leblanc, creator of the fictional gentleman-thief Arsène Lupin, who called the town home. In fact, one of his novels L’Aiguille creuse (The Hollow Needle) refers to the needle in its title and uses it as the book’s main mystery. In the novel the needle contains a secret treasure: a collection of queens’ dowries, pearls, rubies, sapphires and diamonds … the fortune of the kings of France. And Lupin, who is hiding in Étretat has discovered the secret … I almost feel like reading it, now that I’ve been to Étretat myself!

On the day we visited there was much consternation as emergency services searched for someone they suspected may have committed suicide by jumping from one of the cliffs. This, of course, would have been very easy to do as there are no barriers along the entire cliff-line. I managed to get really close to the edge to take some of my photos and actually did suffer from vertigo once or twice, despite normally being comfortable with heights. It turns out the suspected jumper was found safe and sound in a local hotel while trying to pluck up the courage to jump. Or so the story was told.

Sure, I would have loved to have been there when the lighting was perfect – at first light or the evening – but I wasn’t. This is what I was able to capture. Enjoy your vicarious visit.

(Click on the photos to open them.)

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5 comments on “The one where the photographer goes in search of Arsène Lupin on the Normandy coast

  1. madasue
    February 22, 2016

    The third arch looks like an elephant! It looks like a beautiful place to visit..

    • Robin
      February 22, 2016

      It’s true! And it was.

  2. Tish
    February 22, 2016

    Stunning. You did some healthy clambering about, but how worth it!
    Is that apartment building as precarious as it looks???

    • Robin
      February 22, 2016

      No, it’s way back from the sea actually, with a wide walkway between it and any rough waves.

  3. denisechabot
    February 22, 2016

    it’s incredible, breathtaking… Je ne sais pas ce que je vais pouvoir te montrer, c’est trop dur !

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This entry was posted on February 22, 2016 by in Travel and tagged , , , , .
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