The fashion of sea bathing started later in Etretat than in Dieppe, its neighbouring town; it developed in 1843 thanks to Alphonse Karr, a novelist and journalist. From then on, the little fishing village would never stop flourishing to become one of the greatest French seaside resorts.
From then on, villas were built at a rapid pace, the casino opened in 1852, amazing performances were held, including operettas by Offenbach. Etretat would become the ultimate seaside resort and the railway would only increase its reputation from 1890 onwards.
Painters like Courbet and Monet would finally immortalise this village and, more especially, would make it known throughout the world. Renowned writers would also fall in love with this place: Maupassant, André Gide, buried not far from there, or Maurice Leblanc who used the hollow needle as the den of the famous gentleman thief, Arsène Lupin.
In short, Etretat had managed in a few years to welcome prominent figures and to be listed among the top places everyone must see at least once in their life. As Alphonse Karr wrote:
"If I had to show the sea to a friend, I would choose to Etretat".
Unlike its rival, Deauville, Etretat has always been a village and it is this atmosphere that still prevails in the little streets of this small romantic town.