Marseillan, Bassin de Thau, Sete and Cap d'Agde
(approx 55 mins)
The beaches of the French mediterranean are all fairly clean, and the sea generally safe to swim, but as with all beaches in summer, can get very busy. We recommend either going early, or combining your day on the coast with trips to some of the picturesque, less tourist swamped coastal towns such as Marseillen, (or Meze at top of Bassin du Thau) which is great for moule frite, or oysters/shellfish etc on the water front. The Bassin de Thau is a large salt lake used for farming mussels and oysters with a thin strip of land separating it from the sea. This strip between the sea and the Bassin has good beaches on the med side of the road and plenty of parking. Also try to get to Abbaye Valmagne near Meze - great wine producing monastery with guided tours.
(approx 1 hour)
Take the “Languedocienne” motorway south west, heading towards Narbonne and follow signs for Grissan. The town sits at the opening to a large salt water lagoon, opening out to the med on the southern side of the town. Good for a wander around as well as the beach.
(approx 1 hour 50 mins)
A bit further afield, Collioure is a lovely coastal town in the very south of France, 26 km (approx. 15 miles) from the Spanish border. Popular with artists throughout history such as Henri Matisse, the unique ‘light’, sunny climate and rocky coves offer a unique typically mediterranean charm.
Canal du Midi
(approx 55 mins)
A mile or so inland from the beaches, the tree lined canal du midi was originally built to transport goods (in particular, wine) east to west. Canal boats can be hired, or park up and talk a walk, cycle or run along the tow path.
(approx 50 mins)
One of the larger towns in the area (with nearby airport with flights to and from Luton and Bristol). Béziers has a strong Spanish flavour (and Feria de Béziers in August.) The town has a good selection of shops, restaurants and bars, and a large indoor food market (Les Halles) where you will find a wide range of local produce. Worth a wander through this market just for the atmosphere and smells. Use the underground car park in the main town square. Also worth a visit in Béziers is the romanesque thirteenth century Cathédrale St-Nazaire, which has been witness to centuries of turmoil and trouble in Béziers history. The Cathedral is situated in an elevated position looking south down onto the river Orb and plains down to the med. There are a couple of small outdoor cafes tucked around the Cathedral.