Where Leblanc invented Lupin: A pilgrimage to Étretat

Where Lupin was 'born'.

The final scenes of the first Netflix series dedicated to Lupin take place right below the famous Norman cliffs, where twists and turns reveal exciting moments as they unfold. 

And, as often happens, pilgrimages to the set locations are a driving force for wider tourism, for discovering the nature and beauty of Normandy.  Of course, there are those Lupinophiles who have arrive every year on the birthday of the character. 

However, the fans of the gentleman thief, have lately been revitalized and galvanized by the new version of his adventures.  All remain enchanted in front of the Étretat coast.

The place is spectacular, magical.  The cliffs sculpted by the sea and the wind, a succession of arches suspended over the water and vertiginous peaks, constitute one of the most amazing landscapes in France.

Étretat is beauty that inspires

This stretch of coastline north of Le Havre had its first moments of glory at the end of the 19th century, when the fashion for bathing began to spread among the wealthy bourgeoisie, artists and writers,  who also also enjoyed pleasantness of the place.

Painters such as Boudin, Courbet, Corot, Delacroix and Matisse were regular visitors to Étretat.  Acclaimed short story writer Guy de Maupassant, who had been coming to the area on vacation since he was a boy, built a villa, which he called the Guillette. But it became a true  “buen retiro” of Maurice Marie Émile Leblanc, when in 1918, touched by the success for his novels of Lupin, he bought a beautiful Norman style.

Rayon vert and hidden treasures

Surrounded by the pure light of the Atlantic, and the rare green flash of sunsets, inspired by the majesty of the cliffs, here Leblanc wrote most of his stories about the brilliant thief Arsenio. 

So, today his house-museum has taken the name of Clos Lupin, as author and character end up fatally overlapping within its walls, strengthening the aura of mystery around the events narrated in the books.

Arsenio Lupin

The mysterious atmosphere has reached a  point that quite a few people believe in the real existence of the fabulous treasure hidden in the heart of the rock of the Aiguille Creuse, title of the famous novel and name of the scenic spire of Étretat.  Somewhere, hidden in or around the house, there must be a secret passage with a burrow that reaches it.  You just have to find it!

Anything is possible, as the recent series on Netflix suggests.  The exploits of the protagonist Assane Diop, despite the diversity and modernity of the character, have an esoteric feel that goes beyond the incredible ability of the Lupin interpretor.

The episodes of the first series bear an evocative title, Dans l'ombre d'Arsène.  The plot is linked to the stories told in what are perhaps Leblanc's two most famous novels, written in Étretat, with the theft of Marie Antoinette's precious necklace at the center.  The whilring landscape of the Norman town reappears and serves as the backdrop for some crucial scenes.

The one played by Omar Sy is just one of the many reincarnations of a timeless character who, after having thrilled entire generations, returns in a completely new guise.  And the timing was particularly apt: 2021 marks the 80th anniversary of Leblanc's death.  The imposing cliffs of Étretat will be the backdrop to an exciting pilgirmage, but better not to bring your jewelry...

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Address Étretat, France

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Where Leblanc invented Lupin: A pilgrimage to Étretat

Étretat, France

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Wanted in Europe, part of the Wanted Worldwide network, is a website in English for expatriates in Europe established in 2006. We cover Europe's news stories that may be of interest to English speaking residents along with tourists as well. Our publication also offers classifieds, photos, information on events, museums, churches, galleries, exhibits, fashion, food, and local travel.
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