Sete,France:the perfect brake

Sète is the most fascinating small town on the French Mediterranean coast precisely because it doesn’t go out of its way to be charming. It doesn’t have the time. This is an attractive – but serious – port full of working people with stuff to ship out and turbot to sell.The site is wonderful. Sète encircles a lone hill, the Mont St-Clair, on the otherwise flat Languedoc coast. And it is all-but an island. There’s the sea out front, of course. Behind, though, is the Thau lagoon – a vast expanse of salt water, colonised by oyster- and mussel-beds. Between the two, a network of canals brings the scramble of port and fishing activity right into the town centre.

The canals both define the town and provide the current that energises the place. Many townsfolk have their own little boats to take them shopping. Anglers with apparently unlimited time on their hands line the banks and, come summer, the main Canal Royal is the theatre of Sète’s famous water-borne jousting. Sète is, in short, a swirl of a spot, with constant movement on land and canal.

It helps, of course, that Sète has the finest unsung beaches of the French Med – eight miles of them stretching along the spit of land separating the lagoon from the sea. An enormous scheme to tidy up access and the shore-side promenade is under way. But don’t wait. Go now to find the unfiltered boisterousness of the real Mediterranean. I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

    
   

Lac du Salagou

The Lac du Salagou is a large lake near to Clermont l’Herault in the Herault department of Languedoc Roussillon. Well known in the area for the vivid colours of the lake and its surroundings it is very popular for various water sports, walking and cycling.

The Salagou lake was created in 1968 when a barrage was erected across the river Salagou in order to allow a diversification of local agriculture and regulate the river Salagou which was very prone to flooding in autumn. The lake covers 750 hectares and has become a popular tourist spot.
The earth surrounding the lake is extremely rich in iron giving it its distinctive orange-red colour. This combined with the deep blue of the lake and the greens of the surrounding trees and fields forms a wonderful patchwork of colour which takes on different forms and combinations around each different curve of the lake.
It is possible to drive round the lake to see the many different views but if you have the chance use the ‘route forestiere’ to walk or cycle round the lake and really have the time to admire it. Unfortunately my trip in November didn’t allow me to capture on photo the wonderful colours that shine out in the sunshine usual to this part of France.
SalascIf you are driving to the lake pass first by Moureze to see the very different scenery of the Cirque de Moureze. Even if you haven’t time for one of the walks amongst the dolomites the drive from Moureze to Salasc on the southern side of Lake Salagou takes you through part of the dolomite-filled landscape.
Salasc like the other villages around the lake offers a pretty stopping point for lunch or a coffee if you have forgotten to bring a picnic to eat on the edge of the lake.
Continue around to the unusual village of Celles. Thought to be in the zone to be flooded the village of Celles was evacuated but the lake stopped short of the village.
Celles became a ‘ghost town’ though now its church and marie appear to have been renovated and contrast bizarrely with the surrounding abandoned houses whose roofs have collapsed and whose walls are gradually falling. Perhaps the village is in the process of being re-populated.
The views from the patio area in front of the renovated church and marie are very nice.
  

Cirque de Navacelles 

The Navacelles cirque is located between the limestone plateaus of Le Larzac and Blandas, between the departments of Gard and Hérault, and is a listed Grand National Site, forming an impressive natural amphitheatre with its tall limestone cliffs. The beauty of the place can be fully appreciated from the panoramic viewpoints of La Baume Auriol and Blandas. At the centre of the cirque, the picturesque village of Navacelles is particularly photogenic, with its waterfall and spectacular environment.       

Chateau de La Ferte Saint – Aubin

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The castle of La Ferté Saint Aubin is located in the department of Loiret, 22 km south of Orleans. It was built in the 17th Century by the architect Théodore Lefebvre under instructions of Henri of Saint-Nectaire. The castle changed hands several times until it was purchased in 1987 by Jacques Guyot, who made it available to the public. There is a 40 acres park, created as a French garden and stalls. This castle is a historical monument.

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During your visit you will discover more than 15 furnished rooms inside the castle, stables and tack with the collection of harnesses, large collection of toys and dolls (1st floor of the Orangerie ). You are also invited to the demonstration in the kitchen of the castle, where you can enjoy delicious honey madeleines, made ​​according to the recipe of the day.

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A great place to wander around, with 40-hectare park features ,and the reconstruction of a 1930s train station, an enchanted island for the children and a wildlife park

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