Luxury holidays in Narbonne

Narbonne sits on the French Riviera and yet apart – it runs wilder than Montpellier and Marseille, and doesn’t have the schmooze of the Côte d'Azur’s glamourpusses. But, with salt pans that go pinker as the sun hangs lower, lagoons in which flamingoes perch like swizzle sticks, a jagged Pyrenean backdrop and a lot of stuff the Romans left behind when they’d had their fill of the wine the region pumps lustily out, it’s surprising that it’s largely favoured by French holidaymakers – making for wonderfully unattended beaches. Aside from lines of vines, the region is brilliantly biodiverse and all manner of furred and feathered things live in nature reserves such as the Massif de la Clape and Haut-Languedoc Regional Nature Park. Michelin stars have been tossed liberally over, but seafood suppers of oysters and bread in Gruissan are just as satisfying – it’s where all French pleasures converge, if covertly.

When to go

Summer might be the busiest season, although beaches don’t get too crowded and there’s plenty to keep you busy. Note that a lot of restaurants or activities are closed during the off-season.

Getting there

  • Planes

    Béziers-Cap d’Agde (a 40-minute drive away) is the closest airport, but only flies to and from eight European destinations; for more direct routes try Montpellier or Toulouse.
  • Trains

    Narbonne’s train station connects with Toulouse, Avignon and Montpellier.
  • Automobiles

    A car is essential for cruising through Narbonne’s wilder expanses, but in this eco-conscious area biking is popular too – routes run through the various reserves.