‘Remembrance of Things Past’ is a fitting title for our recent excursion to Marseillan, a formerly sleepy fishing village on a vast saltwater lagoon called Étang de Thau, in spitting distance to the Mediterranean Sea. I was there last more than 45 years ago, and let me tell you – it has changed big time! While all these years have left their immutable marks on me, Marseillan has rejuvenated itself, has cleaned up, spruced up and painted its walls in fresh coats of soft pastel colors. Marseillan’s polished appearance was a big surprise to me.
Marseillan, Agde, Cap d’Agde and Sète are well known coastal destinations near Béziers in Hérault. The famous Canal du Midi terminates here, Cap d’Agde hosts the world’s largest nudist camp and the d’Étang de Thau provides enough oysters to keep everyone going – a typical Mediterranean coastal paradise, which we wanted to see with our visiting friends. And I was curious if I would recognize any of it after such a long time.
As I was eager to see the old harbor again and we were all hungry, we set off for the waterfront in search of a restaurant.
|The yacht harbor|
We have had several recommendations for a place called La Ferme Marine, where one gorges oneself on a never ending supply of raw & prepared seafood. But since two in our party were neither enthusiastic oyster lovers, nor sea snail aficionados, we picked the lovely La Pacheline for our lunch instead.
From the glass enclosed terrace of La Pacheline, I had a clear view across the old harbor to the hotel in which we stayed all those decades ago. The hotel, and the harbor for that matter looked exactly as I remembered it, yet not. The large Haussmann style ‘Maison Maître’, being the tallest building on the block, was easy to identify. Even the blue doors and wrought iron railings were the same. But it looked like this entire section of town had received a facelift of major proportions. Where there had been a dusty, grungy old fishing pier waterfront, everything was now fresh-out-of-the-dishwasher sparkling clean and shiny.
Somewhat disconcerting. But a delicious lunch with a glass of wine allowed for emotional adjustment to the new & improved Marseillan. After lunch, we took a leisurely walk around the harbor area, enjoying the sights, as well as some fun shops, along the way.
Such beauty. When we stayed here, it was just the old harbor hotel and the blue was faded and dull. But the rooms were very large, with high ceilings, thus comfortable in the summer heat. The hotel closed many years ago, a nearby shop owner told me. The renovated building was apparently turned into charming apartments – indubitably very expensive charming apartments! The ground floor, where the hotel dining room used to be, is now a highly rated restaurant aptly called ‘Le Château du Port’.
|slightly outdated filing system|
Just walking around the town was great fun,
until it was time to returned to the car park for the journey back to Pézenas.