During the late fall and winter there are often days when the sky is a bright blue colour, and when there isn’t a breeze stirring. Those days are perfect for a visit to the seaside! In my case the closest seaside means Valras Plage, which is only 30 minutes by car from Saint Chinian, and that’s precisely where I went recently for a spot of lunch.
In the off-season, many restaurants and shops are closed in the towns along the coast. But there are still enough cafes and restaurants open to choose from, and on my visit to Valras Plage I went to the aptly named Le Phare (the lighthouse), very close to the port, and to the beacon which marks the entrance to the harbour.
Le Phare is under new ownership, but the restaurant and its menu haven’t changed very much since my last visit.
The starter of the day was a tartar of salmon, which was very tasty: chopped raw salmon fillet, mixed with finely chopped cucumber and onion, and seasoned with olive oil and a little lemon and lime juice.
There were mussels on the menu, with French fries, of course!! And of course I chose that dish for my main course! I can never resist eating moules frites by the seaside!! There were some very large, yummy mussels in this pot.
Dessert, anyone?? Of course — who could resist!! 🙂 Profiteroles or ice cream?? Ice cream for me, please!
After that lovely lunch, a walk around the town was de rigueur. There were a fair few people on the beach; it was warm enough to lie in the sunshine after all!
Valras used to be a small village mainly inhabited by fishermen. All that changed with the arrival of a railway line in 1846. People from and around Beziers could afford to travel to the seaside, and when the electric tram arrived in 1901, the village became ever more popular with seaside tourists. Hotels and chalets, and bars and restaurants were built to accommodate the visitors, and the village started to expand along the beach and grew into a town. The yacht harbour was constructed in the early seventies, and today there are moorings for 350 boats, in the harbour and along the Orb river, which flows into the sea at Valras. A walk around the town will allow you to discover many buildings from some of the different epochs of the town. The balcony railings look very art nouveau, and the bazaar could be from the 1930s. Many of the older houses, especially along the seafront, have been replaced by bigger apartment buildings, but none of them are more than five stories tall.
The emblem of Valras Plage is the seahorse, and you can find it in many places around the town. Here are just two:
So if the seaside is not for you in summer, maybe I can tempt you with a visit out of season??