Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Sea Arch, Etretate, France, Most Amazing Natural Sea Arch


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What is the Sea Arch?

A sea arch is a natural arch or bridge made of stone that has been created through the process of land, wind, or water erosion. Of course, a natural arch is often made due to a combination of types of erosion. A natural arch or natural bridge is a formation of rock that includes a passageway in its lower half.

These arches are often made by the meeting of two types of rock. The rock on at the top of the arch, which forms the bridge is made of a harder type of rock than what is on the bottom. If the bottom rock is a softer type of stone, it will erode away more quickly, thus leaving behind an arch.
Natural bridges commonly form where cliffs meet the sea. In this instance, the formations are called “sea arches.” A sea arch is created when the natural erosive forces of the water break through a slice of rock and leave behind an arch. Water, after all, is one of the most powerful forces on the planet. It has the power to destroy cities, but it also has the power to make stunning sculptures in the earth, such as the Etretate, France.

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Etretate Normandy France

The little town of Etretat is located in the Pays de Caux, on a section of the coast of Normandy called “La Côte d’Albâtre”, and is renowned for its impressive white cliffs, featuring arches, a large rock needle and tunnels.

Etretat is one of many stops of interest on the coastal road along the Côte d’Albâtre, 130 km long from Le Tréport to Le Havre. The resemblance with the opposite coast in England is striking, for the English and French coasts share the same common feature: high chalk cliffs.


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Etretat, a bit of history...

An old legend says that the village was founded following a Viking invasion. Etretat’s fame was settled in the 19th century when, from a fishing village, it quickly became a fashionable seaside resort. Little by little, the traditional activity of fishing was substituted by tourism. Paris and the largest cities in Normandy were not far and the construction of a railway line made transportation easier towards this little town.


The train line has since been taken out of service, only to be transformed into a touristic train: le train touristique Etretat Pays de Caux. You can reach Les Loges downhill by handcar (6km) and come back by an old-fashioned train.

However, one doesn’t come to Etretat just for bathing. Unlike other places nearby, Etretat does not have sand but pebble beaches. Here, the real features are the surrounding cliffs, one of the most visited sites in Normandy.


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The cliffs

The outstanding 70 metre-high white cliffs of Etretat are world famous and are classified as a national site, with its three rock formations, known as:

Porte d'Amont (the upstream cliff) – a large rock that juts into the sea,
Porte d'Aval (the downstream cliff) – arguably the most impressive cliff with its arch and needle, 

and
Manneporte – featuring a second natural rock arch above the sea.


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