Marseillan and the Languedoc

               "The petite port of Marseillan on the Languedoc coast, kissing a Mediterranean lagoon east of Béziers, has an undeniable frisson. Views across its dazzling turquoise water to the hillside rooftops of Sète are reminiscent of St Tropez's to Grimaud and Sainte-Maxime. And excellent beaches a couple of miles outside town. The protected 17th-century harbour really captures the early Riviera vibe. Low-level houses laced with wrought-iron balconies and splattered with flowers swaddle a channel that jiggles with small boats and yachts, with a left bank of thriving restaurants and cafes"     The Guardian

Marseillan is a jewel of a location, enjoying the bounteous waters of the Etang, the slow meander of the Canal du Midi and the cool vibe of the Med beaches. The town is also home to the world-famous Noilly Prat distillery, the vermouth beloved of James Bond, and three caves offer AOC table wines, including Picpoul, the wine to partner your oysters. Fill your containers from the pump for a few euros.

You could eat out every day in a huge choice of restaurants, bars and cafes, serving everything from tapas to coffee and crepes, pizzas and fine dining. In spring and summer, the oyster producers open their tiny deck restaurants hanging out over the waters of the Etang, so you can see your food being landed before it hits the plate. Fresh or what? 

There are three supermarkets within a few minutes' walk from our front door, but head to the indoor food market to buy your fish freshly caught from the Etang,  wander around the bustling Tuesday market which overflows into all the streets, then stop for coffee at the Bar Marine next to the church, and watch the world go by while you adjust to a different pace of life.

Marseillan has two sailing schools, as well as windsurfing / wake-boarding on the lagoon, cycle hire - and miles of safe bike tracks which take you all along the beaches - plus tennis and horse riding.  Take a boat tour across the Bassin to visit the oyster parks or go for a sardine picnic at the deserted Fort Brescou. Golfers can drive off on two courses

And there's so much more to discover. Historical towns within a short drive include the ancient Greek port of Agde, now one of the Med's biggest pleasure ports. Settle down with a cocktail at one of the many waterside bars and ogle the millionaire yachts.  Don't miss Sete, the 'Venice of the Med', where water jousting takes place in summer.  Wander around Molière's historic Pézenas, full of cute galeries and specialist shops.  Discover the Crusaders' Aigues-Mortes,  the World Heritage sites of St Guilhem le Desert (voted second prettiest village in France), and the amazing Roman Pont du Gard. Or shop till you drop in cosmopolitan Montpellier.

There are easy scenic driving routes for day explorations - punctuated by degustations of the wonderful local wines, picnics in the hills or by lakes, or join the locals at the weekend at one of the many extensive Marches aux Puces - flea markets - where you may just find the bargain of a lifetime!

Only slightly further afield, you can enjoy the birdlife of the Camargue, the spectacular Cévennes, the exhilarating white-water gorges of the Haut-Languedoc, the fairytale citadel of Carcassonne or the Provencal towns of Avignon, Arles and Uzes.

The Spanish border is only a two hour drive, and some of our guests have enjoyed side trips to Barcelona and the Costa Brava.

Car parking is free and close to the house, but guests have frequently come for car-free holidays using keenly-priced local public transport.