It’s not even nearly the end of January, the frost is still on the ground, times are hard and of course our minds are turning to holidays.
Whether we’re really going to be lucky enough to get away this year, or whether we’re resigned to being armchair travellers, there’s something very cheering about making holiday plans.
Marseillan and Marseillan Plage are not famous holiday destinations, but these neighbouring villages in the South of France, on the Etang de Thau and the Mediterranean are well worth visiting. There’s usually plenty of sunshine, Marseillan is steeped in history, is fun to explore on foot and is also home to the Noilly Prat distillery, whilst Marseillan Plage is a perfect British holiday resort (but French and warmer). by which I mean, there’s plenty of sand, ice cream, probably “Kiss Me Quick” hats if you look hard enough, but also moules frites, cheap wine and an African market.
Marseillan and Marseillan Plage: Getting There
The nearest airport to Marseillan is Beziers, although Montpelier is also quite close. There are regular flights from Bristol, Luton and Southampton to Beziers and also from Gatwick and Luton to Montpelier; BMIBaby is scheduling a new route from Manchester to Montpelier this summer. Flights take (about) one and a half hours and Beziers airport has a shuttle bus service which runs to Marseillan and Marseillan Plage in the summer time.
If you prefer to take the train, the Mediterranean TGV stops at Agde, which is only a few miles from Marseillan and Marseillan Plage. From Agde railway station, there is a good bus service to both villages, although avoid trying to travel in the hours between 12pm and 2 pm (siesta time when all right thinking people in France stop for lunch).
You can also easily reach your destination by road, either by taking the A75 south from Paris (you will cross the Viaduct de Millau, the tallest bridge in the world if you go this way) or by driving down the west coast and heading east from Toulouse.
Events and Activities in Marseillan and Marseillan Plage
Both Marseillan and Marseillan Plage are good to explore on foot. Marseillan was a trading destination for the Phoenicians, so has a venerable history reaching back thousands of years; it lies on the Etang de Thau, a lagoon famous for its shellfish. Marseillan has numerous characterful restaurants where these can be sampled.
Like many other towns and villages in this part of France, Marseillan hosts medieval water jousting tournaments in July and August. Watching the blue and red boats joined in combat on the local waterways is a fine way to spend a holiday afternoon and evening, especially when the experience is enhanced by a glass or two of the local wine and a few oysters.
A visit to the Noilly Prat distillery is also an intriguing way to spend a few hours of your holiday. There are guided tours around the distillery on most days in the summer and if you should happen to visit, make sure to buy a bottle of the Noilly Prat Ambre. This orange flavoured spirit is only available from the factory and a very few other outlets and is absolutely delicious.
The Harley Davidson Meet
If you should happen to be in this part of the world in late August, Harley Davidsons from all over the world congragate here every year.
You may be of a nervous disposition, but never fear, bikers are true knights of the road and quite modest in their tastes and requirements.
On one memorable summer’s evening, we were having a quiet drink with friends in a Marseillan bar when four Harleys roared into town. The natives (and other occupants of the bar) looked a bit nervous, but broad smiles broke out when the bikers ordered “Two pots of tea and some sandwiches please.” Aaaah, la France!