with tips for cycling & hiking
We stayed at the seaside resort of Marseiilan Plage which is an extensive beach area, of 6km,of European Blue Standard between Sète and Cap d'Agde, at the edge of the Mediterranean.
We spent our 4 days between the campsite Beauregard Plage.
and the excellent aire in the town, by the main road. This aire is on hardstanding with spacious set out parking areas and is controlled by a credit card operated barrier and in October was only 4 euros a day. On balance we tend to stay on sites as offseason they are only about 14 euros and have the advantage of the sanitary facilities and electric but every so often we do an aire to give the ‘off site’ systems a work out.
The campsite is fairly typical of most French sites, reasonable size pitches and the sanitary facilities were ok, though what did prove irksome was that the guy who cleaned the showers wanted to do it when people wanted to use them, so it became a bit of a game to beat him to it. Also annoying is they wanted to charge 2 euros to pick up water from the motorhome service point, which I refuse to pay.
It does have direct access to the beach and this is the main attraction of this area and there are countless campsites on this stretch of the coast, though not many were open in October.
The beauty of October is that you will have Marseillan Plage to yourself and it is still warm
Our first excursion was a walk into Marseillan, which is a very attractive small port on the Etang de Thau, though on our first day it looked anything but, as we approached it along the cycle path that connects it to Marseillan Plage. It was a particularly grim day, impossible to see across the etang and we dodged our first downpour by calling into a very pleasant café.
Through the murk, we did, however, pick up the Canal du Midi which was a surprise as we thought it ended just up the road at Agde.
A brisk walk back and we avoided any more rain until the evening, when it literally tipped down, so heavy was the rain that we had to come off the pitch onto the access road. The baker/convenience store opposite the site showed us a picture of its first floor under water.
The town which is basically a purpose built modern seaside town, though it lacks atmosphere it has everything you need, though there is a large Carrefour at Marseillan. There is a superb fresh fish shop in Marseillan Plage with an equally good restaurant attached, just to the left as you leave the campsite.
We had previously visited Agde a year earlier when we did our trip along the Canal du Midi but we never made it to Cap d'Agde.
What a difference a day makes as we woke up to glorious sunshine and our first cycle trip to Cap Agde.
Turn left onto the main road and you follow the cycle path that runs alongside the road until it veers left through the nature reserve Bagnas.
This leads into the naturist village and it was not clear where you go at this point but basically if you turn right when the path leaves the cycle ride and follow your nose then this avoids the naturist village and leads into Cap d’Agde.
The cliffs at Cap d'Agde
It is a good idea to pick up a map at the tourist office; this is the large dome building ,and use this to explore the cycle paths that lead into Agde.
We took the path from the port, then the path past Aqualand before following the coast .When this path ends, head into town, then turn left down the Chemin de Notre Dame and cycle to Grau d’Agde which is the village on the coast at the River Herault estuary.
Grau d'Agde on the Herault estuary
We then followed the river back into the old town of Agde.
The old town of Agde is a real revelation, with lots of interesting architecture and pleasant winding streets with cafes and artisan shops and it is dominated by the 12th century fortified cathedral. It occupies a beautiful position where the River Herault and the Canal du Midi meet the Mediterranean.
The 'Canalet'which links the Canal du Midi to the Town
We took the main road back into Marseillan and with the sun shining you could really appreciate the beauty of this attractive port and its significance at the end of the Canal du Midi.
There is a superb restaurant on the quayside, the Chateau de Port, which is located in a very attractive 19th century building. Here the quality of the food matches the attractiveness of its location.
Pointe des Onglous
This is the point where the Canal du Midi meets the Bassin de Thau. You can then continue across a series of lagoons and canals which becomes the Canal du Rhône à Sète which continues all the way to the Rhone at Beaucaire.
You then follow the cycle path back to Marseillan Plage. The total distance cycled, allowing for exploring is about 30km.
In the other direction you can cycle into Sete, an easy 20km return cycle ride of which the vast majority is off road and a large proportion of the ride giving you excellent sea views.
Only on the last part do you have to veer right and follow the main road into the town and its countless number of quayside restaurants serving excellent seafood at very reasonable prices. A lunchtime visit is well worth it. The oysters, which are farmed in the Etang de Thau are particularly superb and ridiculously cheap.
Canal at Sete
The "modern" Sète was built in the middle of the 17th century by Paul Riquet so that his Canal du Midi would have a port on the Mediterranean. The town dates back to the Romans who named it Mons Setius .It was Riquet's new "Port-Saint-Louis-du-Cap-de-Cette",however, that became the seaside and canal town of today.