Gruissan Off The Beaten Path

  • View at the massif de la Clape.
    View at the massif de la Clape.
    by Jerelis
  • Beautiful Massif de la Clape.
    Beautiful Massif de la Clape.
    by Jerelis
  • Rough and massive.
    Rough and massive.
    by Jerelis

Most Recent Off The Beaten Path in Gruissan

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    Narbonne - Take time to meander.

    by Jerelis Written Mar 7, 2013

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    Typical house on our way to the Horreum.
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    Take time to meander - losing yourself in the maze of alleys, streets and lanes is one of Narbonne old town´s principal pleasures. The streets wind and wander with no discernible order or object. After our strawl we rewarded ourselves with a cool glass of beer or wine for our effort! We learned that you won´t do justice to the entire city of Narbonne whenever you won´t visit other parts than just the main sights. So ... do meander, because the cluster of sights around the main square are truly beautiful, but the more secret pleasures of the hushed backstreets are just entrancing.

    There are truly more than enough vibrant cultural scenes to see, like the off the beaten path Horreum way back in the Rue Rouget de Lisle and for example the Palace Garden at the back of the Palais des Archeveques. Via the pavement along the Canal du Midi, with its beautiful Les Halles, we ended up at the central square, which is probably the most important square of Narbonne. It lead to a great viewing point at the exposed ancient Via Domitia, where we could also get great views at the Narbonne Cathedral. All this may seem very though as finding your way in Narbonne might be difficult, but in really distances are short and the signs will help you in getting around. Enjoy!

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    Narbonne - Game plan strategy.

    by Jerelis Written Mar 7, 2013

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    Very impressive facade in downtown Narbonne.
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    Most people try to rush Narbonne on a budget so they end up missing some of the highlights in a whirlwind. The key to seeing Narbonne properly is a game plan, you must know what you want to see before setting out. Before we visited Narbonne we saw on a city map that the small town of Narbonne is divided into three areas - the historical old town, the area around Canal du Midi and the more residential area in the new part of the town. We visited the city several times, every time we hiked our way through one of the areas.

    Our hikes were in the old town where the city is one huge ancient site in which we could walk for several hours. It was quite strenuous sometimes, but definitely worth while! For example we started at Cours de la République where we parked the car, made our way to Pont des Merchants and finally hiked way into the old town and it ended at the Horreum at the other side of the city centre. While most tour guides don't recommend getting lost in the alley´s, this part of Narbonne is the place to get hopelessly lost for half a day. We wondered off through mysterious and steep alleyways leading us away from the crowds. We ended up at the Palace Gardens (old garden facing the old town walls), Les Halles (old marketplace in a beautiful building), mazes of hilly backstreets and deserted gardens. The real Narbonne?

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    Narbonne - More than 2000 years of history.

    by Jerelis Written Mar 7, 2013

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    An alley watching at the Narbonne Cathedral.
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    Narbonne is a city with more than 2,000 years of history. The ancient city of Colonia Narbo Martius was founded in 118 BC and its golden age began in the years later. The compact town of Narbonne is easy to get around, and the ideal place to explore on foot. Narbonne is France, and yet it is a culture unto itself. It was the capital of the ancient Roman Empire and its legacy of monuments can be admired in the streets to this day. Historical buildings to stroll around include the 14th century Narbonne Cathedral, numerous churches, a Horreum, the Cimentiére de Bourg (cemetery), a beautiful park like the Jardin de Martyrs de La Resistance and the defensive walls behind the palace reveal delights at every turn. Time to explore it!

    We can honestly state that the best way to explore Narbonne is by foot and the second best way is also by foot! Besides giving you the opportunity to roam the narrow streets and the cozy squares, it is the quickest way too. If you really want to, you can cross the city in approximately 25 minutes. Remember that sometimes it might be quicker (and nicer!) to take a few short-cuts into picturesque alleys instead of following the masses of tourists. Maybe this is easy for us to say as we stayed for a longer period of time and not like most of the tourists only for one day. But even when your stay is rather short, do try to get away from the crowds and just have a 'look around'. Narbonne is simply a perfect place to walk for a few hours and pretending to know where you are.

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    Massif de la Clape - Oeil Doux.

    by Jerelis Updated Mar 6, 2013

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    The Oeil Doux.
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    Talking about a hidden gem. We did not hear of this amazing spot before we visited it. The Oeil Doux is a natural waterhole surrounded by cliffs with an abrupt eastern face overhanging the surface 40 metres below. The cliff is made of hard fissured limestone whose crevices are full of red clay; it was formed during the middle geological era. The north side, less steep, is made of marly limestone from an older geological age and is particularly rich in fossile deposits, notably Orbolitines (Mesorbitolna texana), Brachypodes, Lamellibranches and sea urchins (dating from the Clansayesian period).

    The presence of this hole at this site can be explained by the fragility of the wider area which displays many faults; two of them major. The water in the hole is salty: the salinity, as well as the level, varies with the rainfall and the movements of the Mediterranean just 1,500 metres away. The whole zone is part of a submerged karstic formation. The water table penetrates into the zone, part of a network that appears to plunge far below the 35 metres depth of the waterhole. Connections to the sea via this underground network, together with leaching, explain the variations in surface level and salinity.

    Directions:
    Massif de la Clape is situated on the Mediterranean coastline southeast of Narbonne. The whole area belongs to the Languedoc-Rousillion district and is directly on the route from France to Spain (Barcelona).

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    Massif de la Clape - Some amazing vineyards!

    by Jerelis Written Mar 6, 2013

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    Vineyards and Massif de la Clape.
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    The subregional zone of Massif de la Clape forma an oase of vineyards which lie at the westernmost end of the Coteaux du Languedoc appellation. Most of the vineyards are located around a rocky promontory east of Narbonne, the Massif de la Clape, which was an island until the River Aude silted up in the Middle Ages.

    The entire terroir is a mixture of limestone, red clay and gravel. Strict regulations have helped to ensure quality of the wines of La Clape. Talking to a local expert we learned that thes particular vines must be five years old before qualifying, and the cépage is strictly controlled. Since 1998 the wines must include at least 70% Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre with a minimum 20% Grenache. The rule is 60% for rosé. And I have forgotten the exact rules for the white wines, I'm sorry about that. But anyway ... on a whole it is a rather small region. Some vinyards are located on a low plateau, of clay and galets (large, oval stones). This communal zone is of less significance than La Clape, which plays host to some of the top names of the Languedoc, starting with Chateau de la Negly. There are also good wines from Camplazens, Pech Redon and Moujan.

    Directions:
    Massif de la Clape is situated on the Mediterranean coastline southeast of Narbonne. The whole area belongs to the Languedoc-Rousillion district and is directly on the route from France to Spain (Barcelona).

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    • Wine Tasting
    • Hiking and Walking
    • National/State Park

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    Massif de la Clape - It used to be an island.

    by Jerelis Written Mar 6, 2013

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    View at the massif de la Clape.
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    Just opening Wikipedia will tell that (and I quote) "the Pyrenees is a range of mountains in southwest Europe that forms a natural border between France and Spain. It separates the Iberian Peninsula from the rest of continental Europe, and extends for about 491 km (305 mi) from the Bay of Biscay (Cap Higuer) to the Mediterranean Sea (Cap de Creus)." Back to my own English :) ... we can say that for the most part, the main crest forms a massive divider between France and Spain. This devider even ends up into the Mediterranean Sea at Narbonne. This part of the Pyrenees is called Massif de la Clape.

    The Massif de la Clape - "stone" in local dialect - was, until recent geological time, an actual island. This insularity, still apparent in the landscape, has given rise to a particularly rich and original variety of plant and animal life. Today, the La Clappe Heights remain one of those unusual, spellbound places where we could still feel the imprint of his long-gone ancestors. It's a relatively unknown jewel of a crag on a relatively unvisited stretch of French coastline.

    Directions:
    Massif de la Clape is situated on the Mediterranean coastline southeast of Narbonne. The whole area belongs to the Languedoc-Rousillion district and is directly on the route from France to Spain (Barcelona).

    Related to:
    • National/State Park
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Family Travel

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