Étretat is best known for its chalk cliffs, including three natural arches and a pointed formation called L’Aiguille or the Needle, which rises 70 metres (230 ft) above the sea. The Etretat Chalk Complex, as it is known, consists of a complex stratigraphy of Turonian and Coniacian chalks. Some of the cliffs are as high as 90 metres (300 ft).
These cliffs and the associated resort beach attracted artists including Eugène Boudin, Gustave Courbet and Claude Monet. They were featured prominently in the 1909 Arsène Lupin novel The Hollow Needle by Maurice Leblanc. They also feature in the 2014 film Lucy, directed by Luc Besson.
Two of the three famous arches are visible from the town, the Porte d’Aval, and the Porte d’Amont. The Manneporte is the third and the biggest one, and cannot be seen from the town.
The GR 21 long-distance hiking path (Le Havre to Le Tréport) passes through the town.