Last Updated on 2nd July 2020 by Sophie Nadeau
When travelling around Normandy, charming French fishing villages can be found in abundance. Dotted along the coastline, you’ll find these little towns and ports; filled with cute houses, small boats and plenty of bakeries. Yport is one of these typical Normandy villages, and as such, is popular with local and tourists alike. Formally a fishing village, today the seaside settlement is predominantly filled with small food stores and winding streets.
Introducing Yport, a charming fishing village in Normandy
The famous white cliffs that dominate Normandy (and particularly its Seine-Maritime department) are what makes the region so popular and so iconic around the world. A little way along the coastline from the world famous cliffs of Étretat, you’ll find the little community of Yport. While a short drive away from the chalky cliffs, Yport couldn’t be more different, both in terms of the appearance of the town, and the vibe you’ll discover should you venture to the sleepy settlement.
The village is steeped in history and set deep in a little bay of its own, complete with its own chalky cliffs and pebble beach. Painters, writers, and sculptors all flock to the village to be inspired by its tight-knit community and the salty breeze that constantly whistles through its cobbled lanes.
And you can see why they frequent the village in such numbers. Though the settlement predominantly relies on tourism (both due to its picturesque nature and Casino), the area isn’t so full of tourists that you can’t appreciate the ‘Frenchness’ of it all…
History of Yport: From Neolithic times to the present day
The area has been inhabited since at leaNeolithichic times. The chalky nature of the soil in the region means that evidence of times gone by is easily preserved and archaeological evidence is often uncovered. The Romans often passed through the area on their way to Étretat from Fécamp (and a little of the main road today follows the original Roman Blueprint).
Throughout the centuries following, where Yport now stands was inhabited on-and-off by various fishing communities (possibly including the Romans). It wasn’t until the mid-19th-century that the church was built and the village officially established.
Yport remained a thriving fishing community throughout the rest of the 19th-Century and up until the 1960s when larger firms and companies made fishing commercially unviable. Since then, the village has been predominantly frequented by tourists and visitors who wish to visit the Casino. (There are very strict laws on where Casinos can be built in France. And, for the most part, they are few and far between.)
Yport, the inspiration for ‘Une Vie’ by Guy Maupassant
One particular visitor of note is the famous French writer, Guy de Maupassant. It is here, in Yport, that he set his novel ‘Une Vie‘. The book was Maupassant’s first novel and it chronicles the life of Jeanne, the main protagonist of the story. It follows her story in a linear way, starting as a young girl, and following her as she starts a family, and eventually becomes a Grandma herself…
Things to see and do in Yport
Pay a visit to Yport Church
There’s a church in Yport, as well as a small selection of stores and independent bakeries. One of the best French croissants I’ve ever eaten was from the bakery in the middle of the village (think: crumbly texture and a soft, buttery taste). St Martin’s Church dating all the way back to the mid-19th-Century. Though construction began in 1838, complex modifications meant that it wasn’t finished until 1876.
Wander along the Yport Pebble Beach
Although we visited on a Sunday morning, the beach was completely empty and so we were able to enjoy our breakfast of croissants and coffee in peace (always a bonus!). As a result of its previous status as a fishing village, much of Yport is focused on the beach area.
The pebble beach welcomes the crashing waves, all the time looking out onto the English Channel. During the 19th-Century, the beach here became an incredibly popular place for bathers (it was around that time that ‘swimming’ became a popular sport in France).
Chalk Cliffs of Yport
Stroll along the coastline and climb the coastal paths to get the best view of the village and its surrounding bay. While most people dreaming of the chalky cliffs of Europe imagine those of Dover, or indeed the French heights of Étretat, plenty of the Normandy countryside is home to such cliffs.
Sample a Cervoise
This local beer has been produced since antiquity and is traditionally made using barely or wheat without the hops. So if you’re a fan of beers, be sure to sample one while in the area. After all, when it comes to some of the best reasons to visit Normandy, the food is undoubtedly near the top of the list!
Eat a Tarte Yportaise
A traditional French dessert named after the village of Yport itself. This sweet treat is made using Granny Smith apples and cinnamon (known as ‘cannelle’ in French). If you want to make a traditional Yport Tart for yourself, then this recipe is a great place to start, though it is in French!
Yport Tourist Office
If you need more information, Yport has its own tourist office, located in the very middle of the village. (address: Office du Tourisme, Bureau d’Yport, Rue Alfred Nunès) However, before your visit, be sure to check that the tourism office is actually open, as it operates under restricted hours during the low and European shoulder seasons. Check here for the tourism board opening hours.
Where to stay in Yport
The village of Yport can easily be visited on the way to another larger place, as it only takes a couple of hours to explore. However, if you want to stay longer, then there are various camping sites, hostels and hotels dotted around the area. Here are the best places to stay in Yport, based on web reviews an location:
Le Mahonia: Situated in the centre of the village, in the heart of all the action, Le Mahonia is a three bedroom holiday home with a living room, fully-equipped kitchen, and TV. Check prices and availability here.
Les Sources Yportaises: Well reviewed on booking sites, this private accommodation offers amenities like a terrace and free WiFi. The accommodation is also incredibly close to the sea. Check prices and availability here.