THE LOCALITY AND ACTIVITIES
THE ETANG DE THAU AND THE MEDITERRANEAN
Marseillan is on the Mediterranean coast of France on the inside edge of an inland sea, once of interest for salt commerce and now a renowned area for the ‘coquillage’ fishery, especially enormous oysters and mussels. There is nothing nicer than sitting in a small restaurant by a port sipping the local ‘Picpoul’ and eating fish. The coastline is marshy and home to a great variety of flowers and wildlife. Travelling to and from the beach you usually see a small group of flamingo balanced on one leg, feeding in the middle of the water.
Marseillan, like its neighbour Agde, was founded by Greeks about 200 B.C. Buildings date from 800 years ago when the city wall was constructed and still dictates the plan of the town. The Cap d’Agde offers spectacular coastline walking along rocky cliffs and also has a marine archaeology museum showing everything they have and continue to dredge up from the sea and the Herault river. There is also a Roman villa in the locality, and a museum of pre-history and dinosaurs on the actual site where numerous dinosaur eggs have been found.
The Canal du Midi which runs from the Atlantic ocean to the Mediterranean and is navigable by pleasure boats passes by Agen, Lot-et-Garonne and ultimately opens into the Etang near Marseillan is a world heritage site. It is worth visiting to see locks in operation and cycling on the canal paths or taking a boat trip.
Marseillan is home to the produce of ‘Noilly Prat’ a fortified herbal martini-type wine, known worldwide as the ‘chef’s secret’ and visits to the chai are recommended. There are organized walks to the ‘garrigue’, the landscape of olive trees, vineyards, thyme, and cicadas, hot and arid, a museum of flora and fauna and sailing lessons. Sports lovers can play tennis, basketball, beach games in Marseillan Plage, arrange for sea-sports such as wind-surfing, para-surfing, walk or cycle.
All of the port villages have water jousting contests over the summer and festivals with fireworks, music and dancing, parades and eating.
There are 100 kilometres of golden beaches along the Mediterranean coast near Marseillan and many different beaches to choose from including naturist beaches.
Sète lies on the outside of the Etang connecting the inland sea with the Mediterranean by a canal through the middle of the city where the fishing port has many restaurants along the canal and also a tiny old fishing ‘quartier’ well worth visiting, ‘La Pointe Courte’. At Sète you can take a trip around the Etang and the oyster beds in glass bottomed boats. Tours of the Etang are also possible from Marseillan and Marseillan Plage.
For the big city feel including theatre, opera, concerts and ballet as well as fascinating tours of the interior of old mansions, there is no better place than the University city of Montpellier, only 40 kilometres from Marseillan.
Closer by is the elegant city of Pézenas, largely 18th. century, home to Molière and the locale for most of his premières and replete with masses of antique shops. In this area are also annual antique fairs attended by the serious dealers but open to individuals as well and a weekly brocante (bric à brac) at Marseillan plage.
Wine-tasting in the Languedoc is particularly enjoyable as this is a region of fast-developing wines of exceptional quality for their price. There are numerous chateaux many in a domain or a ‘Mas’ and also co-operative caves attached to the villages.
Further afield is more mountainous scenery, which affords interesting walks and days out. There are many historic villages, abbeys, caves with spectacular stalactites and stalagmites and wonderful panoramas. There is canoeing and fishing on the rivers.
For those who would like a taste of Spain while staying in Marseillan, Barcelona is only three hours away on the autoroute and the journey there passes through Fougueres where there is a magnificent Dali museum.
In all of our houses you will find a helpful house book explaining what you need to know to make yourselves fully at home and a comprehensive selection of information for tourism.