Normandy Day 1: Étretat Cliffs

We were on a small tour of Normandy in May 2016. We rented a car in Brussels for five days via Rentalcars.com. As I have an experience of renting a small car, which didn’t accelerate no matter how much you pushed the gas pedal, we wanted to have a good car as we had to do quite a lot of driving. So I selected a Mercedes Benz C class online, but when we picked up the car, we got a Jaguar. 🙂 Also the rental car prices in Brussels are so much cheaper than in Finland. The car for five days cost 339.30€. In Finland you would pay this much for a weekend. It was also important not to have a kilometer restrictions. Most of the cars had a limit of 1.400 km, but that would’ve not been enough for us as our route was already 1300km there and back, so that would not allow for anything extra.

map
Route: Brussels – Étretat – Bayeux – Mont Saint-Michel – Rouen – Brussels

So we picked our car up from Hertz at Brussels Midi Station. The car pickup went quite well except that it always takes a long time. I think it took at least half an hour to do all the paperwork and only after that we could get the car. The only thing that was alarming was that the Hertz people said that because I rented the car not directly with Hertz, but with Rentalcars.com and bought my insurance via them as well, if something would happen to the car, they would charge my credit card and I would need to file a claim with Rentalcars.com to get the money back.

Driving in Brussels is crazy. It seems that there are some construction and road blocks everywhere, the traffic is quite heavy and driving habits are not great. And of course our GPS took forever to find the signal when we got out from the parking garage. So we were scrambling to get the GPS working, which took like 20 minutes. Luckily I have offline maps on my phone, so we could navigate away from the city and not into it. 🙂

The plan for the first day was to get the car, drive from Brussels to Bayeux stopping to see the Étretat cliffs on the way. Driving was easy, but finding parking in Étretat wasn’t. It was a beautiful day and it seemed that a lot of people wanted to be at the beach and see the cliffs.

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If you are facing the water, the hill on the left is pedestrian only area, but you can drive up the hill on the right. So if you decide to walk one of them, I’d suggest picking the one on the left. The view is amazing.

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You should reserve at least a couple of hours if you want to go all the way to the top. We were somewhat on the schedule as we booked Aibnb for the night and we had agreed to be in Bayeux at six to get the keys and a dinner reservation in L’Alchimie. Unfortunately as it was Ascension Thursday the next day, we got caught in a huge traffic jam and the trip took about two hours longer than we anticipated, so we needed to call and reschedule with the owner, who didn’t really speak much English and our French isn’t that great either. 🙂 And of course we had to postpone our dinner reservation as well.

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Luckily we finally made it to Bayeux and could relax. Our Airbnb apartment was super cool although with two steep flights of stairs. But it has been a part of a city wall as a watchtower and another part of the building used to be a convent. It was really comfortable and quiet, but right in the middle of the city. They also had a parking spot in the yard, so it was very convenient. The only downside was that the yard had nice leafy trees with birds on them and they pooped all over our nice Jaguar. So for the rest of the trip the car wasn’t quite as fancy. 😀

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