Mediterranean

Sun, sea and a little snow

Cycle path

At first sight of the cycle path today, you would never even know what season it is… it looks sunny and warm, right?

Ha, wrong! Don’t let that sunshine fool you, the temperature was somewhere between 0C and 2C (thats 32F and 35F for Americans!) not counting the wind chill factor, and yesterday’s weather was still on the ground. Yes, an extremely unusual sight for two Aussies still fascinated by this lovely white stuff – snow on the beach. The beach!! I’ve spent half my life on beaches but have never seen one looking like this.

Here are our views from today’s ride along the voie vert between Sete and Marseillan Ville & back, past the (now closed for winter) Castella’s campsite right on the beach…

Enjoy!

Castellas Camping in winter Snow on the sandhills Sun, Sea, sand and snow snow at the beach 9 Our of the snow, into the sea Bridge over the Canal du Midi Still cold at the port

and finally, I need a balaclava like TCs – my face was frozen!

snow at the beach 10

Delicious? Delicatessen!!

Is this French love affair of mine ever going to end?

The short answer is: I don’t think so!

Delicatessen - looking in

Delicatessen – looking in

Tonight TC and I decided to dine in Delicatessen, an extremely unobtrusive little restaurant in Marseillan – one of my favourite villages of all time in France. Why? The village has everything one’s heart could desire. It is situated on a lake, which means fresh coquillage every day, yes every SINGLE day, of the year. Oysters, mussels and all the rest, from the lake direct from the fishing families to your shopping bag daily, say no more.

But there is a lot more to say. Next to the lake – or “a cote d’etang” there are vineyards. Quality vineyards and lots of them. Chateau Bauvignac is a personal favourite but there are more, so many more.

So lets summarise so far… we have a quaint old village that dates to pre-roman times with its own port, fresh daily seafood from the lake, close to the beach (Mediterranean) with the climate you would expect, lots of vineyards close by. Hmm.. have I missed anything essential? Well yes… the restaurants! This town is like a little oasis of good restaurants. To the point where I almost don’t want to tell you about them because I want to keep it all to myself!

Les Toilettes

Le décore dans les toilettes

But, I can’t resist, it has to come out, so here it is. There is a good diversity of restaurants here, and Delicatessen is probably the most modern of them all. There is a delicious blend of current and past, current being the menu, fresh dishes made with pride from local produce, and past being the vintage decor and quirky items used throughout. Hey, I couldn’t even resist taking a picture in the toilets!

Tonight we wandered in just after 8pm to find we were one of the first tables in to dine. Just a small word of warning for those not used to the French way – 8pm is considered early. We might have thought the restaurant was not going to open as it appeared to be empty, but no, we were the first in to dine and by the time we left there were several other tables occupied – this is just the way it is. First time travellers be warned – don’t expect to eat early in Europe!

TC decided on the dish that is the specialite of the house, the “deliburger” while I went for “gambas sauteed avec Noilly Prat”. Translation: prawns sauteed with Noilly Prat, which is the vermouth made locally and made famous by James Bond (go on, google it, you won’t be sorry!).

He was tres impressed with his burger – it comes served (cooked to order) complete with greens, tomato, camembert, egg and cornichons all between slices of freshly toasted baguette, with a small glass of aoili and a side order of duck-fat fried chips. OK frites. He declared it to be top notch.

My gambas were sweet, juicy and tasty, grilled with garlic and herbs and served with a mashed-potato-to-die-for. When the chef came by and asked how we liked everything, I just had to ask how he cooked those potatoes… apparently with garlic oil and aioli  – carefully mixing to taste – and I have to say they tasted very VERY good. Another thing I’ll be trying in my kitchen.

DSC_1263

Delicatessen – de la table

The wine list allows for all tastes and budgets. Enough choice, not too confusing, just right. We managed to choose a very nice red from a region that is very reliable – Faugeres. Delicious.  

decor

Decor du velo et du vin

This is the kind of restaurant you can go to with a group of friends, as a couple,  or just on your own, and you will always be assured of finding an understated chic atmosphere that you won’t want to leave. It isn’t dolled-up formal, it is a more casual setting, but the food is quality.

Was it purely the decor, was it the music – at times laid back soul, at other times slightly hard rock – or was it just the simple understanding that this waiter, this chef, want you to enjoy what they do best? Whatever the reason, there is much to  enjoy. This was my third visit, it will not be my last!

Enjoy!

reluctantly leaving

Delicatessen, un très bon repas

Delicatessen,  4 Place Gén Guillaut  34340 Marseillan, France

A Sete for all seasons

One of the joys of the south of France is the access to the Mediterranean and somewhere very special is the region between Sète and Marseillan Plage. Here there is a very narrow strip of land that runs between the lake (Etang de Thau) and the sea. This fragile strip was in danger of destruction from erosion, so for the past 6 years or so, a major restoration project has been underway.

Completed and opened in June this year… dah DAHHH!! We now have the absolutely fabulous “Lido de Sète à Marseillan” which has restored beaches, a new road and a fabulous new 12km pathway for pedestrians and cyclists. The area is already popular with campers and on any fine day you will see all sorts of people out enjoying the area, whether on foot, two wheels (bikes), 4 wheels (wheelchairs) or 8 wheels(rollerbladers), enjoying lunch or café, or playing in the water.

In summer the beach was dotted with a number of gorgeous pop-up restaurants right on the sand. I say pop-up because, come the first week of October, the trucks and cranes came in, and the restaurants all disappeared! I’m sure they’ll be back for next summer and I for one will be trying out as many as I can. Mmmmm, just imagine lounging back on comfy chairs or loungers, enjoying the sun, fresh seafood and lovely local chilled vin rosé. I’ll be there!

And in the meantime I know we’ll be out enjoying this wonderful facility as long as we can brave the cold (and sometimes rain). Today’s weather wasn’t so bad…on a fine day you will be dazzled by the amount of blue just everywhere. Just beautiful.
 

CLICK here to find the restaurants of the Sete beaches:   You can also see the film about the restoration here: Thau Agglo – Lido de Sète à Marseillan : découvrez le film !…. and some lovely aerial shots taken from the film