France Travel Planner by Tom Brosnahan & Jane Fisher   Aviator Monument, Étretat, France
A memorial to two early aviation pioneers who attempted to cross the Atlantic.

Original aviators' monument, Étretat, Normandy, France
The original Aviators'
Monument (1928)...




On May 8, 1927, French aviators Charles Nungesser and François Coli took off from Le Bourget airport near Paris to try to fly to New York.

Aviators, Etretat, France  
Above, heads of Nungesser and Coli (note Coli's eye patch).  

Nungesser had been an ace pilot in World War I, shooting down 54 enemy planes. He teamed up with François Coli, an experienced pilot who had completed several long distance flights (despite having lost an eye).

Their plane, called the L'Oiseau Blanc (the White Bird) was last seen flying low over Étretat later that morning.

They never made it to New York, and neither they nor their airplane was ever found.

No one knows where they crashed, though theories range from Ireland to Maine.

Two weeks after their attempt, Charles Lindbergh successfully completed his flight from New York to Paris.

In 1928 a monument was erected to the Nunngesser and Coli at the spot where they had last been seen—the Falaise Amont in Étretat. The large concrete monument consisted of a base, representing the plane, and a pyramid. The front of the pyramid contained busts of the two men, and the back the words, A ceux qui les premiers ont osé, "To those who were the first to dare."

French aviators Charles Nungesser & François Coli
Charles Nungesser & François Coli...

Sadly, the monument was destroyed by the Germans in 1942. Only the base remains.

The modern monument that we see today was built in 1962. It points to the sky and symbolizes the flight across the Atlantic. There is also a small museum nearby.

On the same hill stands Chapelle Notre-Dame de la Garde, the Sailors' Chapel. Like the monument, the original chapel was destroyed in 1942; the current one dates to 1950.

What to See & Do in Étretat

Falaises of Étretat

About Étretat

Étretat Hotels

Étretat Tourist Information

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Étretat Transportation

About Normandy

About Fécamp

Normandy Food & Drink


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Aviator monument, Etretat, France

Above, The new monument soars to the sky.

Below, Norman cows grazing near the monument.


Etretat, France

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