Cruisin’ to Gruissan

Accepting that we aren’t quite there yet, one of the most notable features of the last three weeks of our trip has been some pretty persistent high winds. Our dear old friend the Jetstream has been playing games and is screaming across the Mediterranean, or so one website seems to say. Whether that’s the reason or not, we have been getting serious doses of Tramontane and whatever its easterly opposite number is called. Whilst yesterday evening was the calmest we can ever remember here at Fanjeaux – it was utterly blissful – this morning we are once again being battered from the east. We decided to head for the coast to Gruissan in search of a seafood lunch.

We are somewhat familiar with Gruissan, having visited it on a few previous occasions. we clearly have a little to learn, though, ‘cos it was essentially shut after we made the one hour/€7.70 autoroute trip to where it lies on the Mediterranean coast just below Narbonne-Plage. Previously, we’d eaten in a restaurant in town; it was closed today along with several others. Fortunately, our intended target this time was a seafood shack/restaurant on the Île St-Martin overlooking the Salin de St. Martin. We breathed a small sigh of relief as we found this was actually open.

Walking towards the restaurant past the menu, which would normally have been our primary interest, our attention could not help but be grabbed by the surreal sight before us. Check out the picture.


_MG_5594Your eyes do not deceive you and we haven’t been messing with the colour balance, the water really is pink. This is the Salin de St. Martin, a large salt pan from which the water evaporates and concentrates the salt. For some reason, this turns the water pink. Fabulous!

After several “ooh ers”, we managed to drag ourselves back to the task in hand, ordering some lunch. The restaurant specializes in seafood, much of which is normally enjoyed raw, but it we momentarily toyed with one of its other speciality choices cooked in a salt crust. Well, with all that pink water making mountains of the stuff outside the door, I suppose it’s a natural item to put on the menu. We’ve never actually tried anything with a salt crust but ultimately we couldn’t resist a good old plateau de fruits de mer.

_MG_5583Aided by a bottle of white wine, we managed to see off 8 oysters, 8 mussels (raw), 8 prawns, 12 whelks and a mega-crab, and very excellent it was, too. I’m afraid this is all that’s left.

_MG_5591The very casual atmosphere at this informal restaurant shack was far more enjoyable to us than any pretention in a more formal restaurant. I, for one, would much rather spend my money here. This was certainly the best value plateau de fruits de mer that we have seen anywhere in France, despite the €15 tolls to get there and back, and it certainly beat the one we had earlier in our trip at Maussane-les-Alpilles. Darwin, that seems like a long time ago!

Posted in 2014 France

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