Everyone goes to Canet-Plage and forgets the lovely village of Canet or more properly, Canet-en-Roussillon. It was there long before the beach resorts opened and there is a lot of history. It is very picturesque and quite friendly. Drive inland a few kilometers from the beach following signs to Canet (or take the bus) and discover another world.
There is parking above Eglise St. Jacques just off of ave. de Ste. Marie. Park and walk through the Old Town and don't miss the church with it's fountain. There is a sculpture garden around the church and Maire (town hall) that is a lot of fun. They are in the process of restoring the ancient chateau-fortress and it's worth a walk-around. Virtually all the information is in French so use a translator to get an idea of it or look at the excellent photos. http://ot-canet.fr/articles-1/42-37-le-chateau-vicomtal/
Enjoy a place completely without tourists as you take a break from the beach.
There is a long stretch of perfect sand beach with lovely waves and mountain views. If you park your car (or bicycle) along the beach and turn away from the sea, you will find the Canet en Roussillon Nature Reserve waiting to be explored. These straw houses are still used by local fishermen who are the only ones who have rights to fish here and use the traditional methods.
You can walk the paths and there are two viewing stations for bird watchers. You may even spot the elusive ragondin (French version of the muskrat and, unfortunately, an introduced pest, albeit a cute one).
Canet Plage is walking on its sandy beaches, it is Mediterranean seas and a marina and watersports.
Canet Plage is a massive nature reserve with winding walks along the creeks and peaceful pine forests.
Canet Plage is criss-crossed with cycle tracks and I'm looking forward to cycling along most of the Catalan coast to Canet Plage, next Spring.
Located opposite the Post Office at Canet-Plage, this restaurant was full on a quiet evening, when all other establishments were looking rather dead.
A rather cosy, homely little place, the staff were welcoming and child-friendly. We were running low on cash, so it was also useful to note that they took Visa as well, just in case!
Offers a good selection of tasty Pizzas, Pastas & meat dishes at fairly reasonable prices.
As with most restaurants in the area, dogs are allowed to join their owners at the table, which some people may not feel comfortable with.
Favorite Dish: Had a number of different Pizzas and Pastas - all very nice and all around 8 - 9 Euros (approx £6.50 / $9), which was reasonably good value.
Kids meal - either cheese and tomato pizza or buttered spaghetti with ham (quite big portions which outface smaller children), plus a choice of ice cream and fruit juice all for 6 Euros was more than enough for our children (8 & 4) - they certainly enjoyed it, and ate almost all of it.
We decided to get a hire car from Toulouse to Canet-Plage.
The best deal I was able to get was through Europcar (on the web, of course!). Not only were they cheaper than their rivals, but they were offering 1.9 litre turbo diesel engines, whereas everyone else was offering 1.4 litre petrol.
I then discovered that I could get a further discount as a member of the AA (UK) through Arc Europe - http://www.arceurope.com/, which offers discounts to affiliated automobile clubs.
Ended up with a Seat Leon 1.9 TDI, air con, CD player - the works for about £17 a day. However, I did pay a further 6 Euros a day to reduce CDW excess from approx 1500 Euros to 167 Euros. Very nice car to drive & great economy.
Although there are flight to nearby Perpignan through FlyBE and RyanAir, we found the cost prohibitive, and the service was unavailable from nearby airports.
Instead, we opted to fly to Toulouse from Nottingham East Midlands Airport through BMI Baby (and then hire a car), which was about a third cheaper than the competition. You can book up to 6 months in advance - the earlier you book, the more you save. Flights are on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, although the weekday flights tend to be cheaper.
We managed to get flights for a family of four for approx £60 each, including tax.
If you visit this beach, you will never return to the Riviera. This is uncrowded most of the year and only moderately crowded in July and August. The beach is great; the sand is great and the surf is great . . . Did I mention the view is great?
It is very hard to leave this place.
The main plaza near the tourist information office is the plaza Méditerranée. There are three coffee bars there. Normally a coffee would cost about 90c-1.20 euros, but the coffee bars here charged a whopping 3 euros for a coffee!
We usually stay at Canet-Plage for a week or two and that gives us time to explore the entire region. It is a magical area and you can't run out of things to do while there. One year when we had one of our daughters with us, we bought Cathar Passes and made a wild attempt to visit all the places on the pass. We didn't quite make it but we had a lot of fun trying. Sometimes we just have a rainy day and want to do something inside so we visit one of the larger cities in the area for museums, churches and indoor markets. I've created VT Travel Pages on many of these places so rather than repeat myself here, I'll just put a list of links to the different places that are good day trips from Canet-Plage.
Banyuls-sur-Mer by Beausoleil
Carcassonne by Beausoleil
Castelnou by Beausoleil
Cerbere by Beausoleil
Ceret by Beausoleil
Colera in Spain by Beausoleil
Collioure by Beausoleil
Elne by Beausoleil
Foix by Beausoleil
General Languedoc Ideas by Beausoleil
Mirepoix by Beausoleil
Narbonne by Beausoleil
Perpignan by Beausoleil
St. Hilaire and sparkling wine by Beausoleil
Thuir by Beausoleil
Toulouse by Beausoleil
We once took a trip to Lourdes from Canet-en-Roussillon but it was an overnight trip, not a day trip. Lourdes is probably best visited when you are staying nearer that area but if it's your only chance for a long time, it is possible. Our oldest daughter was with us and wouldn't be back for many years so it seemed like a good idea and we enjoyed the trip, stopping to visit Chateau Puivert on the way.