Sea Swimming and discovering the Coastline
Le Grau du Roi, Espiguette, Aigues Mortes, La Grande Motte, Carnon, Palavas laes flots et Maguelone, Les Aresquiers, Frontignant, Séte, Le Cap d’Agde, Agde, Marseillant Plage; the large fine sandy beaches, the multicoloured pebbles of Maguelone or the little shells of Aresquiers: the choice is yours to make the most of the seas for one, two or a few days, all to finally return to the calm and fresh greenery of the Cévennes
Our Mediterranean coastline is protected, arranged, varied and maintained, you can profit from vast beaches of fine sand from Espiguette from the Grau du Roi, the multicoloured pebbles of Maguelone and Palavas or the little shells of Aresquiers to Sète: the choice is yours all the while returning to the cool and calm green of the Cévennes.
- The grau du roi
Its geography :
The town centre, built around the canal that links its ponds (and Aigues Mortes) to the sea, conserves today its traditional character.
Further to the East, past the Port Cammargue, can be found that magnificent natural site of Espiguette, an immense beach of 11 km, bordered by dunes and its parasol pines.
Part of its history :
The Grau-du Roi owes its definition to the era of the crusades. At that period,the commune of Aigues-Mortes was a royal port, even though the sea has never reaches the foot of its ramparts. The ships would leave through a canal dug through the ponds to reach the sea. The port of Grau is linked since 1724 to Aigues-Mortes by a six kilometre canal.
The term Grau is an ancient languedocien word derived from the latin word “gradus” : passage, movement of a river. On the Languedoc coastline it’s a canal that puts a coastal pond in communication with the sea. The Grau-du-Roi is the canal that unblocks Aigues-Mortes.
It‘s at the end of the XIXth century that the Rhône, by penetrating in torrent the waters of Repausset, opens the grau that interests us, in the place called Consac de Gagne Petit.
It was then the start of a long series of works to maintain this openness to the sea so as to preserve to navigation in the Port d’Aigues-Mortes. In 1727 were constructed in the sea two stone breakwaters, prolonged in l’étang du Repausset : this canal, rectified in 1845, is the actual canal between the Grau-du-Roi and Aigues Mortes. The lighthouse of l’Espiguette was built in 1869.
Along the years, administrative buildings, huts and houses construct the bases of a fishing village. First a commune of Aigues-Mortes in 1867, the Grau-du-Roi gained its independence in 1879.
In 1900, the Grau-du-Roi is nothing more than a very modest village with just over a thousand habitants. Fishing and agriculture assure a few resources to the population: tourism is still in an embryonic form, even if, since the XIXth centrury, the fashion of sea dips is starting to generalise. These immersions are still considered medical treatments and institutes are set up on the beaches receive people based on this trend. But public power and habitants understand that their richness can be found here, on beaches of fine sand, between sea and sun.
The prolonging of the railway line from Nîmes to Aigues-Mortes is a breath of fresh air: swimmers arrive on mass and local produce, like fish and grapes, are sent to the national markets.
Textual Souce: Thanks Wikipedia!
- Aigues Mortes, the Salt Marshes or “Salins” and the tour of Constance
According to Wikipedia,: by road access, Aigues-Mortes is situated around 35 km from Nîmes and 26 km from Montpellier.
The communal territory is partly composed of humid Plaines and the ponds of Petite Camargue. It is separated from the Golf du Lion (Mediterranean Sea) by the commune of Grau-du-Roi. Aigues-Mortes is consequently linked to the sea by the Grau-du-Roi canal.
As well as the communes of Saint-Laurent-d’Aigouze and Le Grau-du-Roi are on the limit to the commune of d’Aigues-Mortes. It’s inhabitants are called the Aigues-Mortais and Aigues-Mortaises.
Its inhabitants lived off fishing, hunting and salt production in different little salted marshes that border the sea. The region was under the domination of the monks of the Abbey of Psalmody.
In 1240, Louis IX became interested in the strategic position it represented for his country: accessing to the independence of a port for the crusade expeditions. He wished to access the Mediterranean Sea. He gained from the monks of the Abbey the town and its’ surrounding territories by exchanging proprieties. He benefited this way from the “gabelle”, a tax deducted from salt production. He constructed a route between the marshes and built there the Carbonnière tower to serve as a lookout as well as to protect his garrison. In 1272, the son and successor of Louis IX, Phillippe le Hardi, ordered the construction of ramparts around the town. The works only finished 30 years later.
It was from here that Louis IX departed twice for the Crusades: the seventh crusade is 1248 and the eighth in 1270 for Tunis, where he died, it’s said, from the plague.
1270 constitutes wrongly, for a lot of historians, the last stage of a procedure that was begun at the end of the XIth century. The judgement is hasty because the transfer of the crusaders or mercenaries from the Aigues-Mortes Port continued. The order given in 1275 to the knight Guillaume de Roussillon by Philippe III the Hardi and the Pope Grégoire X after the council of Lyon in 1274 by way of reinforcements to Saint-Jean d’Acre in the Orient, demonstrated that maritime activity will lose sight of a ninth crusade that never took place (oder from Guillaume de Roussillon in 1275 – (Roger La Noblesse de France aux croisades p 158; C.Rollat L’Affaire Guillaume de Roussillon dans la Tragédie Templière du Pilat à Aigues Mortes)
1274/1312 From his historic fact (of 1270) arose the popular belief that the sea reached Aigues-Mortes during this period. In fact, as confirmed by the studies the engineer Charles Léon Dombre, the whole set of the port was made up of the port itself, found in the sea pond of the Marette, the Canal-Viel and the Grau-Louis, the Canal-Viel being the main access channel to the sea. It is approximately on the Grau-Louise that the Grande-Motte is build on today.
During the French Revolution the town was called Port-Pelletier.
The 16th of August 1893, it was played host to a conflict between Italian workers and the French that worked in the Peccais Psalteries that got out of control: eight or nine Italian workers lost their lives, and between 49 and a hundred workers (of which four were French) were injured by a crowd encouraged by the maire Marius Terras. No one was sentenced.
The tour of Constance and its’ ramparts:
The tour of Constance and its’ ramparts were erected in 1242 by Saint Louis on the ancient site of the Matafère tower, constructed by Charlemagne around 790 to shelter the kings’ garrison. The works were finished in 1254.
Its’ diameter is 22 metres, its’ height at its’ summit is 33 metres or 40 metres, according to various sources... The thickness of the walls at the base is 6 metres.
On the ground floor can be found the guards’ room with its’ protected access via a harrow. In the centre of the room, a circular opening accessing the underground which were used to store food and ammunition as well as being used as dungeons. This area was called « culs de basse fosse ».
The salins of Aigues Mortes according to Wikipédia
Salt production by the exploitation of Salin salt flats. Without a doubt exploited since the Antiquity, the Salins of Aigues-Mortes attract fishermen and sauniers. The Benedictine monks established there, as of the VIIIth century, the Abbey of Psalmody, in the aim to exploit this precious commodity in the sea ponds Peccais. The salines would remain a long time the towns’ prime resource. To reach toe “tables saunantes, the water pumped from the sea travels over 70 km in the roubines; the concentration of sodium chloride passes from 29 to more than 260 g/l. Mechanically harvested, the salt is piled up in shiny “camelles” before being treated. It is reserved for food purposes.
Textual Source: Thanks Wikipedia!
- Palavas les Flots
Situated on a strip of territory, between the Mediterranean Sea on one side and the wild sea ponds on the other, Palavas-les-Flots gets its identity from a history old of three centuries. In a coastline that has known, these last few decades, important upheavals linked to the development of tourism, the station presents a particular style.
The fortified Roman cathedral of Maguelone: Sat on an island, four kilometres from Palavas-les-Flots and linked to the mainland by coastline offshore sand bank, is the imposing mass of the cathedral of Maguelone, one of the highest points of Christianity in the Mediterranean Languedoc.
An exceptional site
The domain of Maguelone is situation in a protected zone of the coastline. On boarding the island, visitors discover and exceptional site. The cathedral thrones at the heart of the small island covered in greenery and surrounded by vines and ponds at immediate proximity of the beach.
Historical monument in the roman style (XII – XIII centuries), of a great purity, destroyed several times and rebuilt, the cathedral was the seat of the bishop for a millennium, from the VI to the XVIth centuries.
For your children: discover Palavas in a little train.
The canal and the quays, the entry into the town, along the edge of the sea up to the Avenue Saint Maurice, then the return to the starting point. Length: 30 minutes.
Panoramic views from the rotating lighthouse that overlooks the little town.
Walks and circuits, on foot or by bike
Walks are suggested all year round and guides are offered by the “Office Municipal du Tourisme”. Three routes of a dozen of kilometres will permit you to know more about the lagoon heritage: fauna, flora, little stories... Ask for the program at the Office du Tourisme: Place de la Méditerranée 34250 Palavas-les-Flots Tél. : 04 67 07 73 34 Fax : 04 67 07 73 58
source: Municipalité de Palavas les Flots et Maguelone
Palavas-les-Flots: Sun and Entertainment all year long
7 kilometres of sandy beaches
In 1743, the construction of the Ballestras Redoubt led to the creation of this fishing village; the original site is today home to the Albert DUBOUT museum of humour. This famous cartoonist discovered Palavas-les-Flots in 1922 and quickly grew attached to its traditions, its fishermen, its beaches and its little steam train. Albert DUBOUT turned his incisive style into delightfully detailed humoristic cartoons which brought a tear of laughter to more than a few eyes. New exposition opens from Tuesday to Sunday from 2 pm until 6pm.
Palavas-les-Flots has also shown that it looks to the future, notably through the amazing structure of the "Phare de la Méditerranée". This old water tower, located in the heart of the village, has been reconverted into a conference centre, tourism board, viewing platform and, at the top, a 65m high panoramic, rotating restaurant. This is a unique structure in the region and the ‘Phare’ or lighthouse makes sure that Palavas-les-Flots light shines over a very long distance indeed. Open each day from 10 am to 12 pm.
Fishing Town and chef-lieu of the canton, bathed by the Mediterranean Sea and the “Etang de Thau”. Up till 1927 the spelling of its name was “Cette”. George Brassens conjures up this name change in his song “Jeanne Martin”.
Etymologically, the name “Cette” would have the same origin as that of “Ceura” (Spanish town, locked in Moroccan territory), which is to say “Whale” (cetus in latin, kêtos in greek), the form of the Mount Saint-Clair evokes the eyes of sailors that of the animal. According to another hypothesis, the name would come from a pre-indo-European term “set” which means a mountain.
Sète is nicknamed “the singular island” or even” the blue island”
Textual Source: Thanks Wikipedia!