Within a very short distance of Valras Plage there are excellent places to visit and enjoy the ambience of the local French community. For further information follow the links below or visit the Tourist information web-site for Valras Plage.
The Canal du Midi is the world's oldest working canal and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built by the inspirational Paul Riquet it is a marvel of French 17th Century engineering. It is still in use today and connects the Atlantic with the Mediterranean without the need to circumnavigate Spain and enter via the straits of Gibraltar. Within easy reach of Valras Plage are important features such as the Malpas tunnel, the world's first canal tunnel, and the Écluses de Fonseranes (locks). Boat trips are available from various staring points.
Being in the heart of the Languedoc, Valras Plage is a great location to sample the wines of the region. These are predominantly dry reds but for those with a slightly sweeter tooth try the Syrah Rose or even the very sweet Muscat, a local speciality. The local co-operative is Les Vignerons de Sérignan (see http://www.vignerons-serignan.com) who produce wine from grapes provided by the small local growers without their own production facilities. Another fun way of buying wine is to do so direct from the producers. Look out for "vente directe". Almost all the local co-operatives and domains offer free tasting of their produce prior to purchase. One recommended nearby region is La Clape just a few minutes south along the coast, see the following article in The Scotsman, combine it with a visit to St. Pierre La Mer. Wines from the other languedoc appellations such as St Chinan, Corbierres or Fitou are also available - see our "Further afield" page. For those who really want to find the wines par excellence you can't go far wrong with the recommendations in Paul Strangs "Languedoc-Rousillon: The Wines and Winemakers" published by Mitchell Beazley. Remember to "nominate a driver"!
For those with more diverse tastes try touring the Noilly Prat cellars at Marseillan about 30 mins North, see http://www.noillyprat.com.
The area's gastronomy is influenced by Languedoc and Catalan traditions. Regional specialities include lamb, duck, preserved meats, pates and sausages, and of course, being on the coast, seafood, especially mussels (try the Moules frites). A wide variety of locally grown fruit and vegetables, including tomatoes, olives, peppers, mushrooms and chestnuts are sold at local markets. Herbs, garlic and berries are used extensively.
If you wish to sample the atmosphere of different beaches there are many available - some quieter and more remote than Valras Plage itself. Try Sérignan Plage, Vendres Plage or Narbonne Plage.
The main centre of commerce locally is the ancient roman city of Béziers. Once a Cathar stronghold and site of a major siege and massacre in 1209. The 13th century cathedral of St-Nazaire is well worth a visit and is on the route of the sight seeing train. The main boulevard, Allée Paul-Riquet (of Canal Du Midi fame) hosts a flower market on Fridays.
Other local towns you may wish to visit include Cap d'Agde, the ancient town of Sète or the purpose built resort of Gruissan, with its extensive marina.
A pre-roman site, the Oppidum d'Ensérune occupies a hill top opposite the village of Nissan Lez Ensérune off the N9, approximately 20 minutes drive from Valras Plage. Amongst the well preserved building foundations and columns you'll also see excellent examples of Roman water systems. The on-site museum contains a large collection of pottery, jewellery, coins and other household artefacts excavated from the site. Check for opening hours (in English) at http://enserune.monuments-nationaux.fr/en
The site of the Oppidum affords fine panoramic views including that of the unique field system the l'Etang de Montady - a radial system of fields and irrigation canals developed in the 18th century.
Heading North West along the A75 the one of the first places of interest is Pézenas, an old medieval city which now plays host to many local artisans work-shops offering paintings, ceramics, jewelry etc. Visit http://www.pezenas-tourisme.fr for details (in French). Just before you get there, subject to opening hours, check on www.stadrien.paysdepezenas.com (in French), are the gardens of St. Adrien - well worth a visit.
Well worth a visit while in the region of Pézenas visit the rose coloured Abbaye de Valmagne an old Cistercian abbey now used to store wine from the vinyard based there, see http://www.valmagne.com.
For those who wish to dine in style away from the resort there are many fine restaurants available. we can provide some personal recommendations having been visiting the area for more than 13 years. In some it is advisable to book beforehand.