When visiting the Alabaster coast in Normandy, Cap Fagnet should not be missed as it offers some of the best views of the cliffs. You can also admire the whole town of Fécamp and travel back in time with the WWII bunkers. Below is my guide to help you plan your visit.
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Why visit Cap Fagnet near Fécamp?
Cap Fagnet is one of my favorite stops along the Alabaster coast.
Located just North of Fécamp, it offers:
- A viewpoint over the town of Fécamp, its beach and the cliffs on the opposite side
- Beautiful views of the tall white cliffs sculpted by the elements - one of the most beautiful landscapes in Normandy (in my opinion).
- WWII bunkers including the impressive Mammut
- A charming chapel
Below is a short video to give you an idea of what your visit could look like.
Planning Tips - Cap Fagnet, Normandy
How to get to Cap Fagnet
- Located on the North Coast of Normandy, called the Alabaster Coast (côte d'Albâtre)
- Just North of the town of Fécamp
- Fécamp to Cap Fagnet = 5 min drive
- Rouen to Fécamp = 1h drive
- Le Havre to Fécamp = 50min drive
- Easy drive and access
The Cape is included in my eBook to help you early plan your road trip around Normandy:
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- GPS coordinates direct to the carparks
- Large carpark past the chapel (when arriving from Fécamp)
- But you can also walk there from the city center (uphill) - 30min
- Toilets near carpark
- Short walk from the carpark to the sights
- Flat path all around
- Plan 30min to admire the views or longer to sit and relax
- During the high season, there is a snack hut
- Always be careful. Don't walk right to the edge of the cliffs, they are not extremely stable. Pieces regularly fall.
- Check out the best rated accommodations in Fécamp
Chapel Notre Dame du Salut
The first thing you notice when arriving at the cape is the charming chapel and its golden statue.
It is closed but you can enjoy the outside architecture and style with the colored rocks.
The legend says that:
Robert the Magnificent, Duke of Normandy (1027 - 1035) was saved from a shipwreck. He vowed to build 3 chapels: La Délivrande (The Deliverer) in the town of Caen, Notre Dame de Grâce (Our Lady of Grace) in Honfleur and Notre Dame du Salut (Our Lady of Salvation) in the town of Fécamp.
After it was built, this one in Fécamp became a rich priory. You can still see part of the outer wall.
The more recent history follows:
During the 16th century, the chapel was partially and gradually destroyed by the wars of religion. The roof of the nave disappeared and then, the vaulting was going to collapse.
It was saved, not as a religious building, but as a useful recognition point for sailors as it was standing on a cape.
As you walk around the cape, pay attention to sounds. You may hear 3 hoots of horn coming from a boat. It is the crew asking Our Lady to grant them "good wind and a fair sea".
WWII Bunkers - Blockhaus of Cape Fagnet
Next the path will take you to some well-preserved bunkers from WWII.
About the German occupation
Fécamp was occupied but the German troops from June 1940 to September 1944.
Fearing an invasion, Hitler had a series of protective buildings built along the coasts (in 1942) known as the Atlantic Wall.
Some of them were built here. They are reinforced with concrete.
Because of the strategic location of this cape and with a port to defend, the Navy built a complex including:
- a lookout post with gunfire direction finder
- a Mammut bunker
- a light shelter
- several Tobruk posts
The "Mammut" Bunker
This is a special bunker. It was built to include a Mammut Radar antenna, used for long distance detection.
It was going to be installed on a bunker type V143. However, in 1944, the installation was not finished.
But you can still see the bunker with its 3 blocks of concrete above which were where the radar antenna was supposed to ne positionned (a very large antenna, you can see a drawing on the explanation board on site).
Other radars were supposed to be installed around the Mammut one. For example, the bunker below was for a Freya Radar.
There are many more pieces of defense to see around the area. I let you explore and discover them (e.g. the Tobruk bunker and their holes). Explanation boards have been installed.
Contact the tourist office for a guided tour of the bunkers' area.
Panorama of Fécamp
If you keep walking on the boardwalk past the bunkers, you will reach a viewpoint. It offers a splendid view, as the cape is reaching 105m (344ft) above sea water.
On a clear day, views reach to Yport and Etretat.
From here you can admire the whole town of Fécamp with:
- the large valley cut in the cliffs,
- the harbor with several bays
- the beach made of grey pebbles
- the cliffs on the opposite side
- and the town of Fécamp - if you look closely, you can see the famous Benedictine palace, the abbey and the Pecheries museum
The valley cutting the cliffs in 2 is home to the Valmont River. It is 14km long (8.7mi).
The chalk cliffs in this area are around 100m high. Around Fécamp, like in Etretat, they are mostly white (other colors appear in other areas).
Like most beaches along the Alabaster coast, the beach of Fécamp is made of grey pebbles.
Cliffs of Fécamp - Alabaster Coast
The high cliffs of Fécamp
Next you can walk along the cliffs a little. Part of the walking path can be closed.
Looking North, you can only see a wall of cliffs. This is very impressive.
Always be very careful. Don't walk to the edge of the cliffs!!! They are made of chalk and not extremely stable.
I recommend you bring binoculars to enjoy all the details. See my guide to help you purchase binoculars.
A bird natural reserve
The area is also protected for its abundant bird life (Natura 2000). The cliffs and pasture are great for birds looking for a nesting place.
Depending on the season, you may be able to spot:
- the Northern Fulmar
- the Great Cormorant
- the Herring Gull
- the Black-legged Kittiwake
- the Great Black-backed Gull
A wind farm
Above the site, you will also notice the wind farm.
The area is very windy all year long. I recommend you bring layers of clothing. You never know what the weather is going to be like.
Below is one of my favorite views. Stunning!
Semaphore and the GR21
Cap Fagnet is located on the GR21 walking path along the Alabaster Coast (179km, for around 9 days).
The final building you can notice on the Cape is the Semaphore. It was first built in 1906 under Napoleon the 1st. It was established for defense to detect any potential threat arriving by sea.
Today it is managed by the Marine National (Navy) and has various surveillance roles such as navigation assistance or regulation of maritime traffic and fishing.
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