La Franqui, Leucate and Port Leucate
La Franqui, Leucate and Leucate Plage all Reside on the Mediterranean Coast in France
The Mediterranean coastline in France plays host to some of the most charming of the French seaside resorts. In particular the Languedoc Roussillon region seems to have more than its fair share. From Frontignan near Montpellier (the capital of Languedoc Roussillon) to the north down to Banyuls sur Mer and Cerbere which are practically on the Spanish border in the South, you will find resorts such as Cap d'Agde, Valras Plage, Gruissan and Collioure.
All lovely places to visit and I should probably have mentioned Sete as well (featured in the photograph), but the three places this lens is going to focus on are La Franqui, Leucate and Leucate Plage. We can't forget Port Leucate either because of its proximity to both Leucate and Leucate Plage, created in the sixties as part of a reorganisation plan.
La Franqui - On the Mediterranean Coastline in France
My first ever visit to La Franqui was practically in the winter, it was March but despite that the weather was still pretty good and although there was a little bit of cloud around the sky was still that beautiful blue that brought the famous artists of their period to this region of France.
They mostly headed a little further south to Collioure. Matisse was the first, he discovered Collioure in 1905 and because of the clarity of light from the sun combined with the blue of the sky and sea, he managed to persuade other painters such as Dufy, Dali and Picasso to join him there.
But it's not just Collioure that enjoys that clarity of light, it is evident in the other coastal resorts that reside here, and it really does have to be experienced to fully understand just how crystal clear it is. Collioure is only about 3/4's of an hour away from La Franqui.
La Franqui was one of the original seaside resorts in the Aude department, having a great location at the foot of a cliff and a large 8km sandy beach that reaches out to meet the even larger sandy beach at Port la Nouvelle. It is known for its wind and has established itself as the kitesurfing and windsurfing resort of the region.
There is an annual Mondial du Vent event that takes place there around the middle of April which attracts the worlds best surfers. If you go along when this event is on you can expect to be shepherded into a large car park before you get into the town and made to pay for parking. On the positive side though they do lay on a little train to take you to the beach as part of the ticket price and you do get to see all the races and competitions taking place.
The stand up paddling is quite impressive and pretty draining as well I would think, battling against the tide and the wind.
La Franqui's claim to fame is that it is the birthplace of the famous adventurer Henry de Monfreid, whose family was instrumental in establishing La Franqui as a village with residents and facilities including the Excelsior hotel. To this day there are artists resident in the village there to take advantage of the environment so loved by the artistic fraternity.
La Franqui Plage, South of France - The French MediterraneanClick thumbnail to view full-size
Leucate, France - Leucate is a small town on the French Mediterranean coastline
Leucate once an island is now a peninsula which has the Mediterranean on one side and the inland lakes on the other. It is the gateway to the Mediterranean natural pak and recreation area and boasts around 17km of natural resources that include beaches, trails and wild landscapes.
It is La Franqui's nearest neighbour and sits right on the north edge of the Fitou wine region. At its centre is an 11th century chateau and with its proximity to the Mediterranean it has retained its links with the fishing industry. Like most of the French towns it has a traditional French food market but unlike many other towns it takes place on a Tuesday, Friday and Sunday morning. There are other places that have a food market more than once a week, but most of them are much larger locations such as Narbonne for example.
I would imagine that by now you have realised there is a great tradition of eating and drinking in this area, being surrounded by the biggest wine region in France, having oysters, mussels and fresh fish practically on tap and a few really nice restaurants in the town. You can expect to be wined and dined to a high level of quality.
If you want views of the Mediterranean and its coastline, you don't have to go too far, Le Cap Leucate is a 50m high cliff face that links La Franqui and Leucate Plag. It has an ancient lighthouse on the top and you can literally see for miles, including the full length of the peninsula and over Leucate Plage. This is a perfect spot to go walking or hiking as there are paths that also lead inland through the wine growing territory.
You can also head down the paths to Leucate Plage which is sheltered by the presence of the cliff rising high above it. The beach is long and sandy with clean water and surrounded mostly by a residential area. It has to be said, a posh residential area, I would live there if I could. Lots of palm trees in the gardens and a real Mediterranean feel to it.
There are also facilities for the holiday makers on the beach front and places to get something to eat or drink, but it is quiet and actually rather appealing.
Leucate and Le Cap Leucate - Includes views over Leucate PlageClick thumbnail to view full-size
Port Leucate - Came into existence in the sixties but now boasts a harbour big enough for a 1000 boats
Port Leucate was built on a huge sandy region between the sea and the inland lake as a part of the reorganisation of the Languedoc Roussillon coastline. It is the modern part of the Leucate region and a magnet for lovers of water sports. There is a multitude of different types of accommodation available here including hotels, holiday home and a holiday resort.
The naturist facilities here reside on the peninsula to the north of Port Leucate at the 'Villages Naturistes', this is a common theme along the Mediterranean coastline in France with the center of naturism being at Cap d'Agde just up the coastline.
As you can imagine with a purpose built facility there are plenty of choices for eating, drinking and entertainment. Plus lots of activities available and places to stay. So all in all a holiday to suit everyone at one of the Leucate resorts.
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A Quick Tour of Languedoc Roussillon
© 2010 Brian Stephens