Day two in the Languedoc and I meet a Brit boater in Cap d'Agde who is pulling his hair out at the berthing situation in the Med.
Back on the road – first stop Cap d’Agde, my first experience of the French mega-marina. Over 4000 berths in a series of marinas, islands and artifcial lagoons. It’s all very seventies and a little overwhelming, and not really to my taste to be honest. But the place is full to bursting with no permanent berths available for love nor money.
I met John Seymour after hunting out red ensigns and he has been sitting on a temporary berth quay-side for a month (at 700 euros a month berthing fee) waiting for a full-time spot. They’ve told him that one may become available in a month’s time as they are building 300 more, but in the meantime John is playing out the summer in a state of limbo. And he says it’s like this all over France.
Apparently, it’s a real foot-in-the-door process – once you’re in you’re ok. But finding that elusive berth is a real problem. And he doesn’t even like Cap d’Agde!
Chatting to the Capitainerie though, it seems that finding a visitor’s mooring is no problem at all – ironically you simply get directed to an empty private berth – so that’s a positive. And there’s one of Europe’s biggest nudist beaches around the corner, so there’s another bonus.
After a quick visit to the old town of Agde, which is fascinating – a really authentic (ie dirty) medieval town that doesn’t seem to have been completely overrun with souvenir shops and the like – we followed the coast to Sete. It has an accent, but I can’ find it on the keyboard. Incidentally, French keyboards are the pits, everything is in the wrong place. Never Mond.
Anyway, Sete is…wait for it…new favourite place. France’s biggest Mediterranean fishing port, it does whiff a bit, but it’s a proper French town that doesn’t need to rely on tourism to make it tick and is all the better for it. The town is set on the Canal du Royal, which links the sea with the Etang something (sorry, should remember this but hqve left notebook in hotel room…) which has access to the Canal du Midi. As such, it is a little Venice-like, but with lots of squares, fountains, Creperies etc.
The port de plaisance is in a corner of the main port and can hold around 300 boats. Am meeting the president of the Yacht Club (they run the marina), the mysterious Monsieur Font, tomorrow, so will let you know the goss. But after an evening meal of Brochettes (things on sticks, eg duck & fig…yum yum… but cheap, so a Hugo happy-maker)and the local red, St Chinon, am completely smitten. Wednesday market tomorrow, then Mr Font, then Port Camargue.
Oh, and Barcelona boaters seem to be have gone awol. You can run but you can’t hide…