gruissan coat of arms
gruissan coat of arms

Gruissan is a resort with many faces - it consists of the old village, little changed from the 13th century; Gruissan Plage, a unique collection of wooden beach houses built on stilts in the latter half of the 19th century; Gruissan Port, created in the 1960's as part of the "improvement" of the Langeudoc-Roussillon coast decided by the French government.


For some visitors Gruissan is simply a place to enjoy the long, sandy beaches of the Languedoc coast.  The frequent strong northwesterly Tramontane wind make it popular with windsurfers.

gruissan windsurfing

Just inland the saltwater lagoons are rich in birdlife including flamingoes. Only a few miles inland you can stroll or ride in a typical Mediterranean landscape of low-growing oak scrub, wild thyme, and rosemary, with parasol pines and tall cypress trees.

Gruissan village
The traditional fishing village itself has not been significantly developed, and has managed to retain its character. Narrow streets curve around the 13th-century Tour de Barberousse, from which you can admire a stunning view over the surrounding lagoon. The tower was built in 1246 as a means of repelling approaching Turkish pirates -the name is pure fantasy, since Barbarossa never came anywhere near here!


Gruissan Plage
The first wooden chalets were built on stilts (to avoid flooding by the sea) by the Narbonnais as holiday homes in the 1850's. A heavy storm in 1899 swept everything flat and the present buildings date from the beginning of the 20th century. Originally these holiday homes, of which there are still more than 1200, had neither electricity or water but most have since been modernised.

gruissan plage

Gruissan Plage and its Plage des Pilotis, was the setting for the French film "Betty Blue" ("37.2 le matin") directed by Jean-Jacques Beineix.

gruissan port
Gruissan Port
The port, which dates from 1975, was created by dredging a canal to connect Gazel salt lake with the sea . Small low buildings in ocre share the quayside with palm trees to make Gruissan one of the most attreactive ports on the Languedoc coast. The port which has nearly 1000 quayside places has all the facilities of modern port including a yacht club and a game fishing club which regularly organises international fishing championship.

 Salt pans
Driving out of Gruissan along the coast road, you may notice large white pyramids ... of salt. Salt extraction is practised on a large scale here. Water is pumped into the salt pans in spring, allowed to evaporate over the summer, and the resulting salt is harvested in autumn. During the holiday season, you can take a guided tour around the salt pans.

gruissan salt

 Massif de la Clape
The nearby Massif de la Clape, once an island, is now a nature reserve although parts of it produce a very pleasant white wines.
An interesting trip takes you to the chapel of Notre Dame des Auzils, perched on a hill with a marvellous view over the coast. A steep path winds through a tree-shaded "sailors' cemetery"... the 26 memorials lining the path are all to sailors lost at sea.

gruissan the clape

At the top, the 13th century church (open from 3-6 p.m. during the summer) contains sailors' ex-votos, placed here to solicit safety on their journeys.


Activities and facilities


Mike Briley, editor of this site, also writes novels - The Valley of Discord - The Four of Us - are already published and available on Amazon. More are on the way.
See his website for more details

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 Ó Chantal Moret & Mike Briley 1999-2006