Grau-du-Roi (grow do rwoa)
It occurred to me as I was planning a trip to the Basque country that not knowing how to pronounce the names of places is not only annoying, but it makes it harder to retain information. Txinguidi (somewhere apparently worth a gander) is hopefully pronounced Ching gweedy but probably not! Anyway, I will figure it out before I start asking for directions……
Le Grau-du-Roi is a resort located on the Languedoc coast, between Aigues-Mortes (egg mort) and la Grande Motte, in what is known as ‘petite Camargue’.
Grau means estuary in Occitan and Roi is king en français
In some ways it is a typical seaside town with canals and bars and cafés and a promenade but there is also something of an air of North Africa here. There is a wild and wonderful beach nearby called Plage de l’Espiguette.
L’espiguette Beach (less pee get) is somewhat isolated, about 7 km south of le Grau-du-Roi center and south of Port Camargue. The beach is nearly 5 km long.
I first discovered it a few years ago on a walking tour of Camargue. I have written about the beautiful, magical Camargue region, which you should absolutely visit, but not necessarily on a walking holiday in June. There is little in the way of shade and the sun is relentless from very early in the morning until late in the evening.
Plage de l’Espiguette is less busy than most beaches, so perfect for the summer holidays and lovely to visit any time of year! You can horseback ride, kite surf and swim without the crowds you find on other beaches in the area. There is a nude sunbathing section to look out for or avoid if that’s not your bag.
The town is divided in two by its central canal which is lined with restaurants and shops. In the sixties there was a project to build a new pleasure port on the Languedoc Coast. It was part of the mission Racine ; a plan to tart up the underdeveloped coastline between the cote d’Azur and Spain.
It has since become the number one pleasure port in Europe.
I love to wander around this harbour and wonder what it is like to have a boat. I see so many for sale that I am thinking very costly is the answer!
This is the place where I most regret not having had my camera with me.
In the early hours one morning before the fog had lifted, when the cafés were just opening I caught a glimpse of an old classic sailboat a little less polished than the others. On deck was a big old alley cat sitting up front with a little crooked tooth sticking out despite his mouth being closed, a patch over one eye and a little bandana around his neck. He was utterly fabulous and looked as if he had spent most, if not all of his life at sea ; a little one eyed furry sailor! I cursed myself for having left my camera in the room.
Plage de l’Espiguette and Port Camargue have both received the ‘Blue flag’ award for cleanliness, the environment and the facilities.
Behind the town wading in the Etangs (saltwater ponds) you will see flamingos; easy to spot from the car as you drive around. The Camargue is the only place outside of Africa where you see so many of the curious pink ballerina birds feasting on the fish that make them the lovely colour they are.
The first part of Ernest Hemingway’s The Garden of Eden is set in Le Grau-du-Roi, which is where he spent the first part of his honeymoon.
I hope you have enjoyed this post on the Grau de Roi. Follow My Beautiful Occitanie to keep up with me on my travels throughout the region. Next up “Jazz in Occitanie”…………..à bientôt Christina.