Open main menu

Bouzigues is a lovely coastal town in Hérault, southern France. It is known above all for its oyster production and numerous quality seafood restaurants. Bouzigues can be thought of as a seaside resort without the resort, with very limited accommodation, and not too many tourists. It is a perfect getaway for anyone who wants to enjoy a slower pace of life.

UnderstandEdit

 
The waterfront. You can see the square tower of the church to the left.

OrientationEdit

Bouzigues is on the north side of a large tidal salt water lagoon called the Étang de Thau, which extends 5 km south to the Mediterranean Sea. The sea water flows freely into the lagoon, fish and boats can come and go as they please, and the lagoon's shoreline is tidal. However, the étang is sheltered from the worst of the winter storms, and Bouzigues still enjoys the atmosphere of a traditional fishing port and the sunny and warm climate that draws so many to the south of France. The urban core is a dense medieval old town, with narrow streets and warmly pastel-coloured houses of two and three storeys, while further out are a few streets of modern villas. At the west end of the seafront are the shellfish industry's warehouses and stores, and at the other end, the cute little harbour. From here, you can gaze over miles of oyster beds across to the distant holiday complexes of Sète and Marseillan, while the Mediterranean scrub behind is scattered with vineyards and the odd olive grove.

The town's portentous title of oyster capital of France (capitale de l'huître) belies the fact that Bouzigues is for most of the day a small, sleepy community, with only around 1,700 residents. It only really comes alive just before lunchtime, when busloads of hungry travellers arrive to promenade up and down the waterfront in search of the perfect fruits de mer. Then, between 12:00 and 14:00, each restaurant is packed with people chowing down on oysters, mussels, razor-clams, prawns, sea bass and red mullet. With lunch service over, visitors gradually disperse, and Bouzigues drifts comfortably back into its peaceful ways. With the crowds gone, you can soak up sun on its two beautiful beaches, wander its shady medieval backstreets and keep track of the comings and goings of the marina - if not in solitude, at least with the feeling you are privy to a cleverly-guarded secret.

HistoryEdit

20 August 1944


Visitors will note the name of one of the streets which runs away from the port — rue du 20 août 1944. This was the site and date of one of the most dramatic moments in Bouzigues' history.

World War II was in full swing, the Allies had landed on both of France's coasts, and the Germans were on the run. There was a munitions factory on the quayside, which the Germans had determined to be tactically destroyed and abandoned. Unfortunately, as the soldiers were making the final preparations to leave, two local men were caught smuggling a stolen bomb out of the factory in a wheelbarrow. As punishment, they were taken as hostages and cruelly shut in the factory to be blown up with it.

The almighty explosion destroyed the entire quayside neighbourhood including several families' homes; boats moored in the harbour shattered and sank, while several passersby were injured and one killed. All this carnage is why the harbourside has modern buildings, while everything around is medieval.

As for the two hostages, they had a near-miraculous escape: the soldier responsible for imprisoning them neglected to lock the door of the factory. Whether this was a mistake, or a conscious and heroic act of mercy disobeying evil orders, is lost to the mists of time.

The name "Bouzigues" comes from the Occitan Bosigas, which means "fallow land" or "wasteland". Indeed, the area's early settlers seemed to live entirely from fishing and gathering wild fruits, and therefore did not need to cultivate their land. These fisherfolk were troglodytes - meaning they lived in caves hewn from the soft calcareous rock by winter and in tents by summer. Historians estimate the caves as being where the row of restaurants now stands on the seafront promenade, and indeed some of the buildings there are still troglodytic. Although cultivation wouldn't happen for centuries, oysters had been a major part of the local diet since the time of the Phoenicians, enjoyed alongside all the same delicacies you can sample today.

The first vineyards were planted in the 15th century, but the bulk of Bouzigues' inhabitants remained fishermen. Nonetheless, by 1670, trade had increased to such a level that the town needed its own port rather than using that of Sète. The local baron, Timothée de Geoffroy, rented out a parcel of land to the town for the creation of a port, charging the generous rent of two hens per annum! The admittedly modest harbour was constructed as a whole town endeavour, with wealthier citizens providing building materials and the cattle to pull wagons and keep everyone fed, and the poorer inhabitants working as labourers. This port was sited not in the current location, but at what is now place du Général de Gaulle. The 21st century visitor will still notice the square is on two levels; the raised platform was the original quayside. The 100 metres or so of town to the south was reclaimed from the étang in 1820, and the port moved to its current site.

Surprisingly, oyster and mussel farming was only pioneered at the turn of the 20th century, and then only as a tentative, and at that time utterly unique, small-scale attempt for fishermen to have a more dependable catch. The only other way to get oysters, clams and coquilles Saint-Jacques was to dive up to eight metres below the surface, with no scuba gear of course. After the Second World War, the marine farming industry took off and most fishermen switched professions until the shellfish farms were at the scale you see today. The Bouzigues method of oyster and mussel culture, growing the shellfish on ropes suspended below the water, has since been copied all over the world.

Bouzigues
Climate chart (explanation)
JFMAMJJASOND
 
 
 
67
 
 
11
2
 
 
 
54
 
 
12
3
 
 
 
71
 
 
15
6
 
 
 
50
 
 
18
8
 
 
 
49
 
 
22
12
 
 
 
41
 
 
26
15
 
 
 
22
 
 
29
17
 
 
 
42
 
 
28
17
 
 
 
69
 
 
25
15
 
 
 
97
 
 
20
10
 
 
 
62
 
 
15
6
 
 
 
69
 
 
12
3
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation+Snow totals in mm
Imperial conversion
JFMAMJJASOND
 
 
 
2.6
 
 
52
36
 
 
 
2.1
 
 
54
37
 
 
 
2.8
 
 
59
43
 
 
 
2
 
 
64
46
 
 
 
1.9
 
 
72
54
 
 
 
1.6
 
 
79
59
 
 
 
0.9
 
 
84
63
 
 
 
1.7
 
 
82
63
 
 
 
2.7
 
 
77
59
 
 
 
3.8
 
 
68
50
 
 
 
2.4
 
 
59
43
 
 
 
2.7
 
 
54
37
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation+Snow totals in inches

Tourist informationEdit

The Musée de l'Étang de Thau has a small 1 tourist information centre with English spoken and plenty of brochures and discounts for attractions in the region, so make sure you pop in near the start of your visit. The main Office de Tourisme for the area is in Mèze, by the marina.

Get inEdit

Bouzigues is located on the northern bank of the Étang de Thau, between the larger towns of Mèze (6 km) and Balaruc-les-Bains (8 km). Sète is 14 km away, while the regional capital Montpellier is around 30 km distant. The town is therefore within easy reach of other transport options, notably Sète which receives trains from all parts of France, as well as ferries from Morocco. Montpellier Méditerranée Airport (MPL IATA) is 35 km away; if driving, take the D66 from the airport up to the A709 autoroute, and merge onto that road following signs for Barcelona and Béziers. After a few minutes, you will pass through a toll gate and join the A9. Exit at junction 33 and follow signs for Bouzigues

By carEdit

The busy D613 is a local link road from junction 33 of the A9 autoroute, the main coastal motorway linking to Montpellier, Nîmes and beyond to the east and Béziers, Narbonne and other points south and west. Daytrippers should consider arriving early, as parking spaces are limited and fill up fast as midday approaches. The main 1 car park is free to use and serves the harbour and museum. On-street parking is possible, but not encouraged.

By campervanEdit

There is a designated 2 campervan parking area on chemin de la Catonnière, just off the roundabout labelled Bouzigues - ouest. This is the third exit for Bouzigues when coming from the A9, or the first when coming from Mèze. This parking area is about 15 minutes' walk from the town centre.

By busEdit

 
The marina

Hérault Transport buses link Bouzigues several times a day to nearby towns and cities, and are excellent value for money with single fares as low as €1.60 for an adult, or €2.60 with a Montpellier tram ride included. Two buses from Montpellier leave from suburban stations on the city's excellent tram network; the 103 leaves from Saint-Jean-de-Védas (tram line 2), and the 104 leaves from Sabines (also line 2). For Bouzigues, they stop at 3 embranchement D613 (a roundabout on the main bypass). The only pitfall is that they drop you around a 1 km walk outside of Bouzigues; the town is easy to find, but the distance is not really convenient for people with limited mobility.

By boatEdit

With the étang being linked to the open sea at Sète and the start of the Canal du Midi at Marseillan, Bouzigues is a popular stopping point for touring boats, although like with parking, space is limited to about 10 of the typical boats used on the canal. Upon arrival, present yourself to the 4 harbour master (capitainerie, ☎ +33 4 67 53 39 84, May–Sep 09:00–12:00, 14:30–19:00; Oct–Apr 09:00–12:00, 15:00–17:00), which is in front of the fishing port and next to the étang museum, and where you should pay port fees and taxes.

By bikeEdit

While the direct railway line to Bouzigues is long gone, its route is not, and there is still a very high quality green way cycle track (voie verte piste cyclable) running parallel along the coast from Balaruc-les-Bains and Balaruc-le-Vieux, through Bouzigues, and then onwards to Loupian and Mèze. The track links to other routes at both its ends, so could feasibly be used as part of a bike tour of the wider area.

Get aroundEdit

Everything you'll want to see is within a short walk from the port, though some people prefer to discover the town on their bikes. Really though, the narrow alleys and winding streets of old Bouzigues and the picturesque seafront will entice even those stuffed to bursting with seafood to get up and explore.

If you wish to use Bouzigues as a base to tour the wider area, then you will ideally need access to your own wheels, as the bus services, while frequent and cheap, offer a fairly limited set of direct destinations (basically Mèze, Montpellier, and a handful of local villages). Driving and cycling are easy and popular ways to get around the Thau Basin.

SeeEdit

Most of the enjoyment you will get from being in Bouzigues will just be down to mooching around the seafront, taking in the views, listening to the local chatter and smelling cooking fish and ozone mingling in the salty air.

  • 1 Fishing port and marina (Port de pêche et port de plaisance), Quai du Port de pêche. The town's delightful little harbour should be the focus of your visit. Traditional wooden fishing boats are moored alongside flashier-looking yachts and all sorts of pleasurecraft. There are four different jetties to walk down, each with its own character and slightly different view. Take a wander past the colourful shack on the easternmost quay nearest the plage des Pyramides; you might see the boat repairman in his blue overalls pottering about on the various crafts under his care, not really working as such, but looking, listening, musing at what needs doing, and often pausing to greet passersby.
  • 2 Musée de l'Étang de Thau, Quai du port de pêche, +33 4 67 78 33 57, e-mail: . Open Feb–Nov, generally Tu–Su 10:00–12:00 and 14:00–18:00, with some seasonal variation. Interesting museum all about life in and on the étang de Thau in all its forms. The first part of the exhibition charts the history of the shellfish industry in Bouzigues from the 19th century to present, including many artefacts from fishermen past and present. If the subsequent aquarium of étang marine life, complete with cooking suggestions for each of the species displayed, seems a bit farcical, you will enjoy the third part of the visit much more. This is a rather in-depth look at the biology of the étang, with a focus on conservation and finding a balance which works for wildlife, the fishing industry and tourists equally. The museum is kid-friendly, and most of the information panels contain translations in English and German. Adults €5, children €3.50.  
  • 3 Old Bouzigues (From the Voile Blanche hotel, follow rue du Port past the town hall). Discover the pretty backstreets and squares of the old town, admiring the colourful buildings which press in on either side. Try not to miss the old 4 communal well on chemin des Aiguilles, or the charming little 5 garden on the south side of the town church, rue Jean Jaurès. The 6 church (Église Saint-Jacques le Majeur, daily 10:00–19:00. Free.) merits a look inside, as it is the final resting place of the feudal lords of Bouzigues. Finally, if you're standing on 7 place du Général de Gaulle, and wondering why half of the square is 2 m higher than the other half, it is because this was the original harbour; where people and traffic now pass through was once underwaterǃ Take care on some of the narrower streets, as some drive their vehicles recklessly fast.
  • 8 Ferme Zoo, 450 Chemin des Aiguilles (Walk from the town hall away from the sea along rue de la République for approx. 140 m, then at the crossroads take the pedestrian path (chemin des Aiguilles), passing the well on your R and the park on your L. After 450 m, keep going under the railway/cycle path bridge, then straight on for another 100 m or so. More detailed, and rather amusing, instructions on the website.), +33 6 81 72 99 25, e-mail: . July-Augː Tu–Su 10ː00–19ː00; Sept-Dec/Feb-Junː W, Sa, Su, bank and school holidays 14ː00–18ː00. Closed in Jan and on rainy days. Cute little farm zoo that is home to all sorts of cuddly critters - goats, pigs, donkeys, deer, cows, emus, llamas - and their equally friendly keepers. Onsite, there are a picnic area and children's playground. Adults and children over 12ː €6, children aged 3-12ː ̩€4.
  • 9 Musée du Sapeur-Pompier (Firefighters' Museum), Caserne de pompiers (Fire station), Z.A. de la Gare, Avenue Alfred Bouat, +33 4 67 78 32 57, e-mail: . Guided tours in French, upon arrangement. A hidden gem of an attraction run by volunteers who are themselves firefighters. The museum is home to a great many objects associated with the Pompiers (helmets, uniforms, fire engines) from 1780 to the present day. Free; donations welcome.

DoEdit

 
La plagette on what passes for a busy day
  • Bouzigues has two small beaches:
    • 1 Plage de la Pyramide (next to the museum and port, served by a small car park). A space has been cleared through the seaweed for swimming - stay between the floats. If you paddle softly enough, you will likely see fish basking in the warm shallows. Views over to Balaruc and Sète, and easy access to walks along the étang (see below).
    • 2 Plagette (a few hundred metres W along avenue Louis Tudesq, and served by a bus stop (La Plage)). This so-called "little beach" is ironically the slightly larger of the two. It has a net for volleyball, and the advantage of much less seaweed. Views over the oyster beds towards Mèze and, on a clear day, the Pyrenees.
Both beaches are officially dog-free as advertised by large signs, but France is a place where personal preference nearly always trumps official dictat, so don't be surprised to find yourself sharing the beach or even the water with family pets. Topless swimming and sunbathing is allowed and commonplace on both beaches, but full nudity is forbidden. There are no lifeguards, so you swim at your own risk.
  • Voie Verte (start at the 3 old railway station (where there is parking) if cycling, though walkers would be better off simply following the dirt track along the water's edge from the plage de la Pyramide, which misses out a rather dull bit through a modern housing estate). A former railway line turned cycle trail and footpath, links to Mèze in the west and Balaruc in the east across 12 km. The casual visitor will much prefer the route east out of Bouzigues, which runs very close to some gorgeous wetlands and mudflats, allowing you to spot the local birdlife. Hunting buzzards, graceful pink flamingos and various species of heron (grey and night herons, great and little egrets) are common, and the lucky may glimpse the blue flash of a passing kingfisher, or else catch sight of a red squirrel hurrying about its business. It is possible to go as far as Balaruc-les-Bains, but the route loses most of its charm after the large equestrian centre.

Explore the étang by boatEdit

It couldn't be easier to get out onto the water. There is no fee to enter, navigate, or fish in the étang de Thau, as it is legally part of the sea. A boat is a great vantage point from which to watch aquatic birdlife, and the pleasant climate and calm, sheltered waters make it a joy to explore. At an average depth of only 4 m, it is also a relatively safe and easy place to swim and snorkel off-shore.

There are, however, some important rules you need to follow, in order to help protect the étang's fragile environment and respect the livelihoods of those who depend on it. Just like on the road, there are maximum speeds which must be observed and areas which are off-limits. In general, the étang's speed limit is 25 knots (46 km/h; 29 mph), however within 300 m of the shoreline and 100 m of the shellfish farms, this is reduced to 5 knots (9.3 km/h; 5.8 mph). You may not pilot a boat into the shellfish farms; the only legal way to access the farms is to take a guided tour. Be mindful of your impact on nature: it is illegal to dump used water, chemicals, or human waste into the étang, and it is recommended that you carry any belongings in heavy bags or boxes, as plastic bags can all too easily blow away.

Fishing is also heavily regulated: it is illegal to fish certain species, and for others there are quotas and minimum sizes. You must throw back any fish which exceed your personal quota or which are too small. The government has published a document (in French) detailing all of the laws, bylaws and recommendations which apply to marine fishing in Hérault. You must ensure you read and understand it, with the help of a translator if necessary, as ignorance of the law - even when there is a language barrier - is not a defence.

 
The mussel and oyster farms just off shore
  • 4 Boat trips (Bateau-promenade Bleu Marin) (embark at the very end of the pleasure marina's main jetty), +33 6 03 31 44 90. Daily departures Apr–Oct times: Apr, Octː 15ː00; May, Jun, Sepː 11ː00, 14ː30, 16ː00; Jul–Aug: 11ː00, 14ː30, 16ː00, 17ː30. Group reservation only Nov–Mar. The visit lasts approximately 1 hour. Hop aboard the Bleu Marin for a guided visit to the oyster and mussel beds, including a chance to see the shellfish at various stages of their life cycle as they grow on underwater ropes from larvae to harvest. The commentary is very comprehensive and peppered with banter, though unfortunately is only conducted in French. However, the chatty crew of two warmly welcome English-speaking passengers and provide sheets to read which give a rough summary of the commentary. Adults €12, children aged 3-16ː €8.
  • 5 Hire a motor boat (Sinaué), 180 chemin du Mas d'Argent, +33 6 14 87 68 87. 1 May–30 June: M by appointment only, Tu–F 10:00–12:00/14:00–17:00, Sa Su 10:00–17:00; 1 July–31 Aug: M–F 10:30–12:30/13:30–18:00, Sa Su 10:00–18:00; 1 Sept–31 Oct Tu–Su 14:00–17:00, other times by appointment only. Environmentally-friendly and silent electric boats which you can rent without a permit, and take for a day's fishing, sightseeing or offshore swimming. The company train you in navigation and safety before letting you loose, and can recommend itineraries upon request. Wheelchair accessible boat available by reservation. Contact the company to confirm operation and prices.

EventsEdit

For somewhere which only barely qualifies as a town, Bouzigues has a rather full events calendar. The full list can be found, in French, on the municipal website, but here are the highlights:

  • Bouzigues Carnival (Carnaval de Bouziges). 6 April 2019. A procession of costumed performers and floats accompanies the effigy of "Monsieur Carnaval" through the streets to the 6 belvedere above the harbour, where he is burnt at the setting of the sun. Join the townspeople for a costumed ball in the 7 Espace Fringadelle that same evening. Free.
  • Flea markets (Brocantes de Bouzigues). 22 April, 10 June, 15 Aug 08:00–18:00. Three times a year, stalls selling furniture, linen and all sorts of trinkets turn up to line the seafront. Most of it may be worthless, if harmless, bric-a-brac, but you never know when you might stumble across a gem... Free.
  • Feast of Saint Peter (Fête de Saint-Pierre). 30 June 2019. This festival of the patron saint of those lost at sea begins with mass in the parish church, and continues with a procession of local children dressed in traditional Languedocian costume to the harbour. Here, boats are blessed by the priest and a jet of water is fired in salute. At nightfall, a small boat on the harbour wall is ceremonially set on fire. Free.
  • Bastille Day (Fête Nationale). 13–14 July 2019. Though national celebrations occur on 14 July, Bouzigues is typical of small towns in conducting its major festivities the evening before. Expect a torchlit procession, patriotic fireworks, and a public ball on the belvedere, with food, drinks, music and dancing, to last late into the night. Most people spend the 14th en famille, with some choosing to stay at home, perhaps tuning into the televised military parade in Paris, or else attending the regional celebrations in Montpellier. In Bouzigues, the town council puts on family-friendly games and activities at the port all afternoon.
  • Feast of Saint James (Fête de Saint-Jacques). 26–28 July 2019. Celebrating Bouzigues' patron saint, the main event takes place on Sunday. The townspeople march to music from the town hall to the saint's namesake church. That evening, a funfair and the obligatory ball take place at the port. Free.
  • Oyster Fair (Foire aux Huîtres) (Large parts of the town, notably the seafront, are pedestrianised for the duration. Temporary parking areas are provided at several entry points.), +33 4 67 43 66 40. 10–11 Aug 2019. Some 20,000 visitors descend on Bouzigues for an annual celebration of all things oyster. At the heart of things are the shellfish producers, whose delicacies you can sample in abundance, but also present are a multitude of other local food, wine and craft artisans. There are a number of events to keep you occupied, from 'best quality oyster' competitions, to tasting workshops, live music performances and fireworks on the Sunday evening.

BuyEdit

 
A quiet backstreet

There is an ATM cashpoint, offering free withdrawals, on the wall of the 2 Town Hall (mairie) on rue du Port.

Food and drink essentialsEdit

  • 1 OC'API (minimarket), place Georges Clemenceau, +33 4 67 78 36 36. Daily 08:00–11:00, 15:00–18ː00. Fresh fruit and veg, small deli counter with meats and cheeses, regional produce, tinned goods, alcohol, beach items and other essentials
  • 2 La Petrie Artisan Boulanger Pâtissier (bakery and cake shop), 12 Grand-Rue Étienne Portes (Ignore the entirely unhelpful directional signs. Follow rue de la République from the town hall right past place G. Clemenceau, after which take the first L, and then the L fork onto Grand-Rue immediately after. If all else fails, the locals are used to giving directions). Tu–Sa 07ː00–13ː00, 16ː30–19:30; Su 07ː00–13ː00, M closed. Great local bakery which makes excellent bread; try the aveyronnais rather than a baguette. Tasty but small selection of savoury snacks and sweet pâtisseries. On the down side, the viennoiseries (croissants et al.) are disappointing, and if you ever manage to raise a smile from the bloke behind the counter, you're a special person indeed.
  • 3 Marché de Bouzigues (twice-weekly market), place de la Golette. Tu F mornings. Very small market (about four stalls) selling local produce.

For a proper market atmosphere, as well as two decent-sized supermarkets (Carrefour and Intermarché), go to Mèze.

ShellfishEdit

There are about half a dozen shops where you can buy shellfish (coquillages) direct from producers. Expect to pay a slight premium for oysters, given they are what Bouzigues is known for. However, other shellfish are very reasonably priced, as are tielles sétoises, a local squid and tomato pie. Most of these shops are located on 4 avenue Louis Tudesq, at the far end from the port; you will pass them on the way into town from the western D613 roundabout. There is also one shellfish shop on 5 place de la Golette.

SouvenirsEdit

  • 6 L'Atelier des Artisans (Les Savons de Bouzigues), 17 avenue Louis Tudesq, +33 4 30 72 64 03. Daily 10ː00–19ː00. Specialists in hand-made soaps and cosmetics, which the owner makes herself. Other craft products from local artisans also sold.
  • 7 L'Elixir, rue de la Poterne, +33 4 67 78 75 98. Tu–F 07.00–12.30 and 15.00–19.30; Sa 07.30 –12.30 and 15.00–19.30 Su; 08.00–12.30. Tobacconist and newsagent which also sells some souvenirs and local wine
  • 8 Le Dressing, rue de la Poterne, +33 6 73 49 39 69. Tu–Fː 10ː30–12ː30, 16ː00–19ː30, Sa–Su 10ː30–19ː30; M closed. Vintage clothing and the best postcards depicting Bouzigues.

EatEdit

See also: French cuisine
 
Bouzigues oysters

What to tryEdit

  • Oysters (huîtres) from Bouzigues are amazingly fresh and must be tried by every visitor! Squeeze a dash of lemon onto the flesh, then scoop it out with your teeny-tiny fork and swallow whole. Washed down with a glass of the local white (Picpoul de Pinet), this is just like tasting the sea.
  • Mussels (moules) are the other shellfish that is farmed in Bouzigues. Some of the restaurants serve them raw on a platter with oysters, but these are frankly not worth the bother unless you really want to try them. Much better are the classic moules marinières, or else moules farcies (stuffed with cheese, breadcrumbs and tomato) you can get at a few different restaurants.
  • Prawns (crevettes) in Bouzigues are fat and delicious, and are served shell-on - forget any notion of piddly little shrimps. There are few more satisfying food experiences than breaking into a prawn, dipping it in alioli, and devouring it whole.
  • Razor clams (couteaux) are uncommon on menus in the English-speaking world, which is odd because when cooked well they are divine: quite meaty, and a little bit squeaky when you chew them.
  • All of the above on one almighty seafood platter (plateau de fruits de mer), a typically-lavish offering served at many restaurants. Most are for sharing between two.
 
Tielle sétoise
  • Tielles sétoises are small pies filled with a sort of squid, tomato and red pepper paste, and are a speciality of Sète.
  • Bourride à la sétoise is an alioli-based orange-coloured fish soup which normally uses a white fish such as anglerfish (baudroie) with carrots, onion, potatoes and herbs.

RestaurantsEdit

There are many restaurants lining the front, and all seem to be of a very high standard, so the below list is by no means supposed to be comprehensive. If you are eating at dusk, try to get a table facing west; the sunsets over the étang can be spectacular whilst you're tucking into your meal.

Vegetarians, you're out of luck. Bouzigues is unfortunately typical of rural France in that none of the restaurants have proper vegetarian menus, and most don't even have the odd meat- or fish-free dish. The nearest vegetarian restaurant is La Part des Anges in Sète, but Montpellier has a much wider selection.

For seafoodEdit

 
A platter of moules farcies
  • 1 Chez Alex & Lucie, 19 avenue Louis Tudesq, +33 6 03 74 21 48. W–Su 12ː00–14ː30, 19ː00–21ː00. Succulent and fresh food served in generous portions, and with friendly service. When it's busy, service can be slow, so it's worth arriving early to beat the crowds. €25 and €32 three-course menus, à la carte mains €15-€25.
  • 2 Chez la Tchepe, 14 avenue Louis Tudesq, +33 4 67 78 33 19, e-mail: . Tu–Su May–Sept 09:00–21:00, Oct–Mar 09:00–19:00. Jean-Christophe Cabrol has been serving his own étang-grown oysters at his restaurant since 1989. You can dine in on a selection of mixed platters, or take away. Platters: One person €16 incl. glass of wine, two people €32-€44, incl. bottle of wine.
  • 3 La Perle Marine, 23 avenue Louis Tudesq, +33 4 67 78 56 25. W–Sa 12:00–14:30, 19:00–21:00, Su M 12:00-14:00, Tu closed. Faultless cooking, and the moules are especially good. Aside from the usual Bouzigues fare, their in-house specialities are mixed seafood brochettes (skewers). The service is inconsistent, depending on who you get. €16 two-course and €28.50 three-course menus.
  • 4 Le 29 au bord de l'étang (Remember "Le 29" is pronounced "le vingt-neuf" in French, rather than "le twenty-nineǃ"), 29 avenue Louis Tudesq, +33 4 30 72 33 85, e-mail: . Tu W 12:00-14:00, F–M 12ː00–14ː00, 19ː00–21ː30, Th closed off-season, otherwise 12ː00–14ː00, 19ː00–21ː30. Good, solid food. Serves a plethora of typical seafood, as well as burgers "à la française": cheeseburger with quality steak and camembert/reblochon, chicken or swordfish burger with Mediterranean salad; exciting stuff! Reservations by telephone or in person. Three-course menu €16.90, €22, €30. Two-course children's menu €10, shellfish platters €16-€58, à la carte mains €16-€24.
  • 5 Le Grand Bleu, 13 avenue Louis Tudesq, +33 4 67 78 72 09. Tu–Su 12ː00–14ː30, 19ː00–21ː30. A friendly and competent service complements some very fresh and delicious seafood. Pre-order for bouillabaisse (Mediterranean fish stew). If you can, try to be seated upstairs for a better view over the water. Three-course menu €27-€39, à la carte mains €20-€25.
  • 6 Le Petit Bouzigues, 45 avenue Louis Tudesq, +33 4 67 18 89 50. Tu–Th 12ː00–14ː00, 19ː00–20:30, F Sa 12ː00–14ː00, 19ː00–21ː45. Don't tell anyone, but... this could be the best restaurant in Bouzigues. One chef, one waitress, 16 covers. Intimate setting and superb cooking "à la plancha". Chef Antoine's speciality is octopus, but he seems to be able to turn his hand to all of the local seafood. Booking is essential. €25 and €30 three-course menus, à la carte mains €18.50-€24.

Other optionsEdit

  • 7 Mitcho Pizza, wagon on place de la Golette, +33 6 24 92 88 21. Every evening except M, 17ː30 until custom dries up a couple of hours later. French-style artisan pizza made to order. Mitcho is a popular local character, and cooks at a leisurely pace while chatting to his customers. If you don't wish to wait you can order ahead by phone. 33 cm pizzas €7.50-€10, calzones €10-€10.50, dessert pizzas €9.

Tired of French food? You'll have to head into Sète for Moroccan, Chinese and Indian offerings, or Mèze, where you'll find a decent Vietnamese place on avenue de Montpellier (the main D613 road from Bouzigues). Other than that, the city of Montpellier's dining scene is considerably more cosmopolitan.

DrinkEdit

The local white wine, Picpoul de Pinet, is lush with seafood or as an apéritif. Black label (étiquette noire) Picpoul is fruitier and sweeter, while white label (étiquette blanche) is drier and smoother. There are many vineyards open to the public for buying and tasting Picpoul and other local wines in the triangle of land between Mèze, Marseillan and Pézenas, though of course all of the local shops and supermarkets stock most of the good Languedoc wines, and some of the bad ones.

Aside from food, Bouzigues is no place for nightlife. There is only one bar in town, not counting those in the hotels listed below:

  • 1 Le Globe, 18 rue de la République, +33 4 67 78 32 69. Every day 07ː00–22ː00. Sports bar that also serves coffee. Mostly frequented by locals. Free wifi and friendly landlady.

SleepEdit

 
Little egret in the étang

There are not a great many accommodation options in Bouzigues, which is one of the reasons it's nice and quiet. As well as what's listed below, there are a handful of self-catering gîtes and tiny B&Bs (chambres d'hôtes) scattered around the place.

In addition to the rates posted, a tourist tax of €1.65 per person per night is levied on all visitors by the municipality of Bouzigues.

HotelsEdit

  • 1 À la voile blanche, 1 avenue Louis Tudesq, +33 4 67 78 35 77, e-mail: . Harbourside location with views over marina and étang. Rooms are individually decorated. There is a bar and restaurant on site. Room €65-€110, suite €110-€190, breakfast €9.
  • 2 La Côte Bleue, 59 avenue Louis Tudesq, +33 4 67 78 31 42, e-mail: . Check-in: 15:00–19:00, check-out: 11:00. Motel-style establishment with modern rooms and a swimming pool. On-site restaurant with a proximity to the water that is unrivalled in Bouzigues. Room €75-€145.

CampingEdit

  • 3 Lou Labech, rue du Stade (Follow the camping signs from the town centre.), +33 4 67 78 30 38, e-mail: . Small campsite with space for 48 caravans and campervans. You can also hire a chalet. On-site health club, TV, free wifi, launderette, fridges and bike rental. Also home to two friendly donkeys. Two people and electricity hookup €16-€30 per night, additional person €3.70-€4.80 per night, chalet 2-4 persons €250-€590 per week, 4-6 persons €300-€700 per week.

If these limited options don't appeal, there is a lot of tourist accommodation in both Balaruc-les-Bains and Mèze.

ConnectEdit

The bar (Le Globe) offers free wifi; just ask for the code. Otherwise, the nearest internet café, called cyberphone7, is at 13 rue du 11 novembre 1918, in Sète.

By mailEdit

  • 3 La Poste, 5 avenue Alfred Bouat (along ave Alfred Bouat between rue Saint Nicolas & Croix de la Mission). The regional postcode for Mèze and Bouzigues is 34140

Go nextEdit

 
Time to move on: flamingos in flight over the étang
  • Loupian - Bouzigues' attractive inland neighbour is an interesting village worth an hour of wandering. Most travellers visit the Gallo-Roman villa, which has some truly exceptional mosaics, but miss out Loupian itself; don't be like most travellers. Drive or catch the bus (104).
  • Mèze - more or less a larger version of Bouzigues, with a great market on Sundays and Thursdays, a very pleasant harbour and large sandy beach. Drive or catch the bus (103).
  • Sète - nearby large town with an interesting port area, a good regional art museum and links to the musician Georges Brassens. Drive.
  • Montpellier - unmissable city with a youthful buzz and cosmopolitan energy that Bouzigues just hasn't got. Drive or catch the bus (103 or 104 to tram stop, then tram L2 into city centre. Ask the bus driver to include the tram fare in the ticket; it doesn't cost any different to buying them separately, but it saves on time at the other end.)
  • Nîmes - some wonderfully-preserved Roman ruins, including a monumental amphitheatre still in use. Drive or catch the train from Sète (TER is cheaper than TGV).
This city travel guide to Bouzigues has guide status. It has a variety of good, quality information including hotels, restaurants, attractions and travel details. Please contribute and help us make it a star!