The sea beaches of Languedoc Roussillon, south France tend to be larger and sandier than Provence’s pebbly equivalents, and some stretch for miles along a coastline that is predominantly flat and straight. (Espiguette, in the Camargue, is said to be one of Europe’s longest.)
Many of Languedoc’s ‘town’ beaches, such as Carnon, St Pierre and Canet are truly awful – ruined by legions of cheap concrete beach apartments in garish pink. But get off the beaten track, and some of Languedoc’s beaches are amongst the most beautiful in the south of France.
Here is a list of some of our favourites – but sshhhh, don’t tell everyone 😉
The King of Languedoc’s beaches, Espiguette stretches for kilometre after kilometre of fine sandy dunes. This beach is big enough to find your own space, no matter how many people are there. The walk from the car park can be as long or as short as you want it to be. There are no buildings near by, but in summer the odd drinks seller will pass by. Finish your day here with a drink at nearby Aigues Mortes.
Beziers: Cap D’Agde’s 9 beaches
There are nine beaches in the Cap d’Agde area (see map at top of page), ranging from small coves (Plage de la Conque and La Plagette) through to long stretches of sand 14 km. Each of the beaches has a parking area nearby but the beaches are only backed by footpaths, so are not plagued by traffic noise. Unusually for this area, there is a rocky headland with magnificent views to Sete in one direction and the Pyrenees in the other.
Like Portiragnes and Vendres, Serignan feels more remote and wild, with a grassy sand bank hiding the few buildings that sit behind the beach. You can just see Cap D’Agde in the distance and the etang (inland lake) borders the north end of the beach. The restaurant behind the sand bank offers simple meals. You can also rent miniature ponies for kids to ride on. Serignan is quite popular in summer – so gets crowded.
Very long, very wide, very flat – Mateille would probably be perfect for sand sailing. But as a beach to sit on, it just feels a little too big and flat and open, without much atmosphere and any interesting views. That said, it’s large enough to promise a certain degree of privacy.
Gruissan is a popular seaside resort village with a ruin on top of a hill above the village itself. Its beach is really a continuation of the massive, wide stretches of sand that start at St Pierre. Like Narbonne and Mateille, it is extremely flat and wide, and feels very open. It does benefit from being further from the ugly buildings of Narbonne Plage, and is right next to a popular sailing port, where you can rent wind surfers. Kite surfing & windsurfing are rife here as it is one of the windier spots. It is also possible to rent jet skis off the beach, there are some great restaurants on the beach. The old village is a great spot with some lovely restaurants, and the marina great for a walk but eat in the village
Narbonne: La Franqui
Very popular with wind surfers, La Franqui’s beach is large and wide, with fine sand. There are two beaches, one just in front of a sweet village, and one further up the coast that is bordered by the sea on one side, and the etang (inland lake) on the other. The result is a long strip of 2-sided beach. It’s windy here (thus the wind surfers) with pretty surroundings and relaxed, friendly restaurants.
Sandwiched between the ugly ports of Nouvelle and Barcarès, Leucate plage comes as a very pleasant surprise. It feels more like an Australian beach town just outside Sydney – with relatively attractive houses climbing up pretty fir-covered hills. There are two beaches here, a main, large beach just in front of the town, and, further along (accessible only by climbing round the rocks), a much slimmer beach bordered by rocks that is popular with nude bathers. Leucate is also popular with wind surfers, and boards can be hired in the town.
Finally, the build-up ends and the beach becomes more natural and wild. Torreilles beach is long and deep, with parking nearby. It has two beach bar/restaurants (from June 1) which are a fun place to retreat to after a few hours of sweltering on your towel (try the L’Ovalie Beach 06 03 78 80 22) . Just sit here with your Pastis and olives watching the sail boats dart about, with the Pyrenees towering in the distance.
Perpignan: St Cyprien :
St Cyprien is really 3 beaches – North, Central and South (also known as Plage de la Lagune). We’ve given it a ‘Good’ rating because the North and South portions of the beach are lovely – thin stretches of sand that go on for miles. The North beach is the best – bigger and with better sand than the Southerly stretch. The Central part of the beach is the commercial heart – with lots of shops and restaurants and the resulting fall in atmosphere and beauty. Like all of Perpignan’s beaches, it’s quite windy here (thanks to the Tramontane wind) so very popular with kite surfers. And of course, the views of the Pyrenees give the beach a certain atmosphere.
Perpignan: Argelès North :
Argeles is frequently said to be one of the best beaches in all of France – and this half of the beach certainly deserves that accolade. The beach is enormous, like many of Languedoc’s beaches, but it has the edge in two important respects. Firstly, the views of the Pyrenees from here are stunning, and make a unique backdrop for any sub-bathing session. And secondly, the beach is separated from the holiday homes and camping areas behind it by a lush park of grass, flowers and pine trees. So you feel you’re away from it all, even though civilisation is only a few meters away.