Less well known and flashy that those of the Cote d’Azur, the beaches along the Languedoc coast from Montpellier to Perpignan are easily accessible (from the A9 motorway), generally clean and well maintained, and offer lots of variety for families and sporting enthusiasts.
For example in Meze, a pretty fishing village just 20 minutes from the convent by car, there are small protected beaches looking out onto the Etang de Thau lagoon, as well as a good choice of restaurants serving fresh oysters grown right in the lagoon as well as other seafood.
Perhaps the best to place to eat oysters though is at the village of Bouzigues, just a few kms east along the lagoon, right in front of the oyster beds.
Meze also has a very good kitesurf school “Fildair”.
The Thau lagoon is a great place to learn this fantastic sport.
The other side of the Etang is Marseillan Plage which offers the option of swimming in the open sea, or in the protected lagoon, as well as eating fresh oysters and discovering how they are grown.
The cap d’Agde (20 to 30 minutes by car)has several pretty beaches, although some can get busy in the high season.
Otherwise a bit further North towards Montpellier you can find nice long open beaches at Carnon (after Palavas which frankly should be given a miss) with plenty of room for everyone, even in high season.
Perfect for a picnic, or alternatively there are several good (and reasonably priced) beach restaurants.
Those who prefer tranquility and like to get away from it all will find it worth their to go a bit further (around 1 hour drive from the convent) tol’Espiguette. Surrounded by dunes, it’s also a great spot for kitesurfing, and a starting point to discover the nature reserve of the camargue.
In the other direction around an hour’s drive to the south, Leucate offers a wide variety of beaches including La Franqui, well known for hosting windsurf and kitesurfing competitions, including the Le mondial du vent in April.
There are also some lovely little beaches along the Herault and Orb rivers, with one of the prettiest and least well-known a more 20 minute walk from the convent – if you know how to get there.
You’ll have to ask your hosts very nicely and they might tell you…