So it seems the seaside town of Gruissan is a well-loved and popular destination for the French and the Spanish. There are so many beautiful towns along the French Mediterranean but we quite by accident settled on Gruissan.
A charming holiday destination with the typical south of France style -think pale blues, distressed woods, light cement walls and flowers, lots of flowers. Noticeably, there were far more holiday houses than one might see in Spain that tend to favor the beachside flat.
Gruissan is about two hours from Toulouse, three hours from Barcelona, and a short 25-minute drive to Narbonne. Also, note that Gruissan is a short hour’s drive to Carcassonne. That meant nothing to me a few months ago, but it seems everyone has heard of Carcassonne and the famous Castle except me.
Gruissan is known for its stilt chalets, and one can see them in clustered communities along the water’s edge. I believe they are quite expensive and coveted so maybe buying one would be close to impossible, but I think you can rent one for a hefty price and fun experience.
The Gruissan area which is in the Occitania region though not to be confused with the other South of France- like those from Provence is not only home to beautiful beaches but also a considerable wine industry.
We decided to stay in Gruissan because we were looking for a seaside town on the way to Toulouse. There are quite a few places we could have gone, but we are thankful that we found accommodation on such late notice in Gruissan.
It really is a beautiful place worthy of many visits. The town feels very well planned, extremely clean, with no garbage anywhere, and with newly paved bike lanes weaving around the coastline. We thought this would be a great place to visit in the fall or Spring for some great bike rides and fresh sea air.
As well, the larger city of Narbonne is a 15-25 minute drive away. It wouldn’t surprise me if many families live and work in Narbonne but have holiday homes in the Gruissan area – super close but completely different energy. I’m sure Gruissan is the holiday place for Toulouse much like towns such as Pals, Begur and L’Escala are holiday musts for the families of Barcelona.
And what a great life that would be. Definitely something for everyone, beach life for the kids and exquisite wine, cuisine, and joie de vivre for the adults.
There were areas of the beach that stretch out with soft brown sand as far as the eye could see. The walk into the water was soft, not rocky like the beaches in the Costa Brava.
In other areas, there was a long boardwalk ending in an area full of restaurants with large seaside patios, bars, and shops selling anything and everything beach summer fun related.
We enjoyed the beach and had plenty of room to stretch out and dig holes for water and set up our umbrella and towels. Again, much like the town of Gruissan, I couldn’t see any garbage cans, but there was no garbage either. There must just be an anti-litter culture in this area or maybe hefty fines?
Spanish, Catalan, and French voices wafted through the air much like you would hear anywhere in the Catalonia region. But, It made me think Gruissan is a well-known secret among Catalonians looking for a different vibe than what’s on offer south of the border.
As for our accommodation, La Maison de Gruissan, we stayed at a B&B on one of the main streets in Gruissan. Close to bike paths, shops, restaurants, and services, this spot was oozing with old-world charm and modern design sophistication.
The breakfast was delicious with a large selection of butter and chocolate croissants, banana cake, scones, toast, jams, and nut butter.
The host was unbelievably kind even venturing out to pick me up some soy milk for my coffee. We would definitely recommend this hotel and would stay there again.
If you’re interested in staying in Gruissan check out Booking.com or Airbnb. If you’re interested in staying at La Maison de Gruissan check out the link below or find them on Booking.com.
We found a restaurant, La Fringale in Narbonne that had a few vegan and vegetarian options. Aside from eggs and the occasional cheese, my son and I are vegan. My husband is 100% percent vegan. Usually, I am quite interested to see what vegan offerings we come across on our travels.
But, for this trip, and perhaps because it was France, I was feeling the cheese. For the first time in ages, I ate baked nachos with cheese, beans, soy protein, and all the trimmings. We also had a beyond burger, falafels loads of french fries. All in all a great meal, friendly service on a picturesque town square.
I really hope my little family will make regular trips to Gruissan and Narbonne in the coming years at various times of the year. It has a sweet peaceful vibe with nice people and elegant scenery.
Much like Toulouse, these areas feel like very manageable places to live. It seems one could have a cute little apartment and life quite easily. Although I would like to visit this region at different times of the year, it would be nice to spend a few weeks one summer here. Swimming in the Mediterranean sea, practicing my French language skills, and enjoying good food in the evening sea air.