Beaches & Rivers
& 'Wild Swimming'
One of the reasons that we chose this region for our own holidays, was that we wanted to be near the sea and good beaches; the Languedoc has some of the best French beaches with more than 40 of them being Blue Flag – the European award for clean bathing water. The beaches here also tend to be long and flat with plenty of space for all, at any time of the year. We particularly enjoy walking on one of the many beaches in the winter months, it is still temperate, the sky is blue and you can have the entire length of the beach to yourself.The beaches at Narbonne-Plage and/or Gruissan-Plage are just 26 miles away from Maison des Fleurs, half an hours drive; but there are so many more beaches available to explore, stretching as far as the Spanish border. These beaches can be used all year round, plus the sea retains its heat well into November - hardier people than I are seen sea bathing all year round. In February 2017 my 9 year old Grandson was swimming in the rivers & sea - the air temperature was 23 degrees and he said it was lovely in the water - I took his word for it!
Our nearest beach, Narbonne-Plage, is excellent, especially for children, as the beach does not drop away once it reaches the sea, the sea is shallow for some distance. Plus there are pedalos for hire, play parks and plenty of cafes/restaurants - and even free showers on the beach. Adults can hire 2 beach beds and an umbrella (less sand in your baguettes) by the day or half day.
La Franqui is reminiscent of a 1970’s Australian surfing beach with its huge stretch of sand and large boardwalks. The world Windsurfing Championships are held here and it is a real pleasure to walk for miles - at any time of the year - on its huge expanse of beach.
Leucate Plage is a large and beautiful beach that is very sheltered - even if it is windy you can use this lovely beach.
Of course, this is the Mediterranean, and many sea side villages cling to their heritage of fishing - you can eat the catch of the day at the cafes and restaurants and even watch the fishing boats berth. Gruissan and Collioure (the centre for anchovies in the south of France) are particularly good for this. Moules frites are a staple in most of our cafes and are particularly good, most coming fresh from the local mussel beds in Sete.
In this part of France we are fortunate to have the choice of sea or river bathing - now known as 'wild swimming'. Very close to our gite are three such swimming spots - of course there are many more, but these are the nearest. Just 3.5 miles from Maison des Fleurs is St Laurent de la Cabrerisse which has a stunningly beautiful river that is wonderful for wild swimming in the warm months, for walks or bar b ques in the cooler times. If you follow the river up, away from the car parking area, you will come to a ‘billabong’ where you can jump from huge rocks into a deep, cold pool. Very refreshing.
Only 10 miles from Maison des Fleurs is the medieval village of Ribaute which has a river with excellent deep and shallow spots. This is a lovely place to visit with a picnic as you can sit in shade either side of the river. The same river runs through Lagrasse just 11.5 miles away, here you can swim in the shadow of the ancient Abbey.
St Laurent de la Cabrerisse
St Laurent de la Cabrerisse
There are many more swimming places in this region, for example a beautiful, huge lake at Homps, Lac Jouarres, here you can hire canoes, sit on the grass by the side of the lake and watch the children, and adults, jumping from the pontoon into the water. There is also a lake at Carcassonne, Lake Cavayere and, for the ultimate in combining history and sport, you can swim under the Pont du Gard in Nimes.
Lac Jouarres, Homps