Today was the best day of the entire trip. We cannot stop talking about this day and for all three of us it was the number one favourite thing we did. Everything about today was perfect and absolutely nothing wrong happened like yesterday. The universe loves us after all! C’est bon!!
We began with an early morning metro ride on a crowded Monday morning metro ride to Europcar. The subway was packed and I noticed that we were the only ones with a coffee in our hands. No one had a thermos or a Starbucks or anything. No one was eating croissants like us and people were giving us funny looks. It must not be a thing here to eat on the go or on the way to work! We rented a little Peugeot car which was adorable and we nervously started our 2.5 hour drive up to the coast of France. Here is a map to show you where we drove!
Kaitlyn drove us and did an amazing job driving- a job I definitely would have struggled with. My specialty is definitely more of the navigation side of things and Stephanie was amazing at guiding us through traffic and watching for cars and motorcycles when doing lane changes! This little trio works so well together! It was the smoothest drive and here are some highlights of the drive:
1) We were so smart to choose a car rental place right close to the highway. We literally had to drive one roundabout, take one turn, and it was smooth sailing on the A13 highway the rest of the way! Driving in Paris was not as bad as we expected.
2) The highways here are beautiful. The speed limit is 130 km/hr and we motored through. This little car has so much power and accelerating to 150 is nothing for it. Even when you’re driving 150 km/hr people still pass you! It’s incredible.
3) There are billions of roundabouts in France. Once we hit the small towns in the countryside we hit a roundabout every mile it seemed. It slows you down a bit but it flows so nice.
4) France is GORGEOUS. It was so cool to see a different side of the country outside of Paris and see cows along the side of the road and drive through the small French towns.
5) French radio stations are so good. We heard a lot of top 40 music from back home (a lot of Drake, Cardi B and Post Malone) but the French music was honestly our favourite. We Shazaam’d some favourite tunes and ended up listening to some of it later on in the day. French rap is so catchy and I actually think I’ll find some French Spotify playlists in the future!
6) There are so many tolls along the highway! I think our tolls one way added up to about 20 euros. So make sure you have some money with you or else you can use a credit card.
We found parking in the small town of Étretat and walked down the hill towards la plâge, or the beach. Side note: my French speaking abilities were thriving in France. I was so impressed with myself and was able to communicate with everyone pretty well. It was funny that all three of us were speaking in both English and French the entire time even just amongst ourselves. We always ordered our food in restaurants in French and if Katie and Steph weren’t comfortable ordering I would order for them. The funny thing was that people would hear us speak French to them and wouldn’t respond in French, but in English. We clearly had accents and spoke much slower. Here in Étretat, however, was much less urban and less people spoke English. We spoke a lot more French here than in Paris. I do think you could get by without speaking French but you would definitely struggle. The menus are all in only French and the signage on the streets as well. If you used the Google Translate app I’m sure you would be fine and some waiters and waitresses had decent English to communicate with. The waitress we had for lunch complimented me on my French so I must have done something right! It makes you feel good to include yourself in their culture and makes the experience that much more special.
Anyways! Let’s show you the beautiful beach. The white chalk cliffs surrounding the English Channel are absolutely breathtaking. You can smell the ocean and seafood and there’s barely anyone compared to Paris.
Like I mentioned before, we had lunch here right on the beach and had delicious ciders, oysters, fromage, and galettes.
Once we were loaded up on carbs it was time to begin working them off! Our plan for today was to do two hikes- one up each cliff and we started with the one on the right with the church. There were many stairs and the sun was toasty but the views at the top were unbelievable.
Talk about WOW! We rehydrated with some sparkling water then headed over to the other side for the second hike of the day. Our legs were jelly but we made it and once again were faced with insane views of the cliffs and the ocean.
We could not stop obsessing over this place. We headed back to the car to get our picnic lunch that we had packed and stopped at a wine store along the way to buy a bottle of champagne. We found a spot on the pebble beach, set up our blanket and picnic and had a nice little snack. This was my favourite part of the entire trip right here. We just took it all in, enjoyed our champagne and danced to French music. Right beside us, an old man was fishing right off the shore and we saw him catch several fish and clean them right beside us on the shore! The pebbles on the beach were large and pretty hard to walk on in bare feet; I definitely wish I had water shoes then I could have spent more time in the water. It was pretty cool stepping into the English Channel though! My first time in the Atlantic Ocean. We took some pretty pictures and sadly walked back to the car as the sun was setting and we still had to drive 2.5 hours back to Paris!
How gorgeous are my model friends!! We drove back and it was just as smooth. We stopped for gas and thought it was hilarious that the gas cap had to be removed with the car key.
We got back to the car rental parkade and there was a car parked in our spot!! We kept driving around and finally this French man walked up-probably to see what the hell we were doing LOL. He didn’t speak English so I was able to communicate with him and get us where we needed to go. Yeah me!!! It was like 10:30 by now and we were starving for dinner! We took the metro back to our flat and freshened up then wandered around and found a dinner spot. We finally got our charcuterie board!!
Being a bottle of wine or so in, we weren’t ready for our amazing day to end yet. We continued walking down the road and found this gorgeous little place and there was still some people inside at the bar. We sat down and ordered wine and began taking to the guys seated at the bar. One was the owner and he made us delicious shots. The guy sitting next to me was super nice and we asked him tons of questions about Paris and the cultural differences between here and Canada. It was so much fun and he was the sweetest. He gave us some recommendations of places to go in the area and by 2:00am we were on our way again, this time full of wine and to see the Moulin Rouge sign. The Moulin Rouge is actually a 5 minute walk from our flat! We took pictures in front of it and then collapsed into our beds back at our place. What a day!!!!!
Truly the best day ever. We can’t believe we only have two more nights here!!!
I hope you enjoyed reading Day 3 of 5! It makes me so happy remembering this day…I hope that translates for you as you are reading! 🙂