The best beaches and bars this summer

Languedoc Beach

You will be spoilt for choice here as Languedoc-Roussillon takes up half of France's Mediterranean coast with 177km (110 miles) of coastline and acres of beaches to choose from -including some of the most beautiful beaches in the south of France.

The best beaches
Espiguette, in the Camargue, is said to be Europe's longest beach and is backed by sand dunes. It is a little difficult to find and a bit of a walk from the car park, but worth it for its beauty and peacefulness. Portiragnes and Serignan are lovely beaches near to Béziers with beach bars/restaurants and you can hire sun loungers and parasols. Valras is great if you have children as there are many ice cream parlors and play facilities, not to mention restaurants and toilets.

The charming seaside town of Leucate has two beaches and some great restaurants. La Franqui beach has the sea on one side and the etang (inland lake) on the other.

Collioure is a charming coastal town full of bars, restaurants and boutiques. Around it there are three beaches with spectacular views of the Mediterranean and the Pyrennees.

If you are looking for a beach that is a little less crowded in the height of the season, then Gruissan Plage with its wide, flat beach will offer plenty of space for you to stretch out. You can also hire wind surfing equipment from the port.

At Port Vendres you will find a lovely beach with dunes and nature all around. There are no crowds here and it is a great place to swim with a lifeguard watching over you (in July and August). There are also lovely little coves between the rocks and places to eat or hire equipment close by.

There is also Cap D'Agde's nudist beach, for which there is an entrance fee, which is extremely popular.

Last but not least, another beach worth mentioning is Argelès-sur-Mer; a 7km sandy beach about 20 minutes from Perpignan which has become one of the major Mediterranean beach resorts, and boasts a large harbour area. The north end is beautiful with views of the Pyrénées and bordered by pine trees, at the other end it is more commercial with plenty of facilities for the kids.

Languedoc Beach

Currently, 94 of Languedoc's beaches have been awarded the international eco-label, 'The Blue Flag', for water quality, safety and cleanliness, so you can just relax and the only thing you need to worry about is putting on the suntan lotion. Click here for a list of Languedoc's Blue Flag beaches.

If you don't fancy drinking warm bottled water and eating gritty sandwiches, then you might like to consider some of the 'paillotes' or beach bars along the Mediterranean coast. There are 29 between Villeneuve-lès-Maguelone and La Grande-Motte alone, but you will find them along the entire coastline open from May to September, offering a cool place to sit, chilled drinks and freshly cooked regional dishes.

The best beach bars and restaurants
As the season gets started, the beach bars on both private and public beaches get ready to welcome holiday makers and locals alike. Invariably you can hire a sun lounger and parasol for the half or full day and some will also hire equipment such as ball games, surf boards and snorkels.

Languedoc Beach

In all of them, you can get drinks all day and often snack food too. Those with restaurants are normally open 12h00-14h00 and then 19h00-24h00. The evenings see many of them prepare for music and dancing into the small hours. Some, such as La Voile Bleue at Grand-Travers, La Grande-Motte, have established a reputation for excellent food, others will offer fresh seasonal and tasty menus, light meals and bar snacks. Another popular bar is La Paillote Bambou with its chic setting.

Languedoc Beach

The hire of parasols ranges from 10-20€ and set lunchtime menus from 18-25€. Soft drinks from 1.5-5€ and alcoholic beverages, such as a glass of wine, start at around 3-5€.

Click here for a comprehensive list.