Etang de Thau, Languedoc-Roussillon: tourism & sightseeing

Photo of Etang de Thau in Herault

Visit Etang de Thau (Languedoc-Roussillon, France)

MAP & PLACES TO VISIT

The Etang de Thau is a large lagoon, a sea-lake, covering about 7500 hectares (18 kilometres by 6 kilometres)  that is separated from the Mediterranean by a long thin cordon of raised sand. The Mediterranean can be accessed from the Etang at Marseillan and Sete and the Canal du Midi enters the etang at Marseillan.

The Etang de Thau is the largest of the lagoons along the Languedoc coast, although it is never very deep: the average depth is 5 metres and it is rarely more than 10 metres deep.

The Etang has long been an important resource in the region. The region has been inhabited since neolithic times, although it was the Greeks and Romans who were the first to extract salt from the sea in the etang. Nowadays, as well as salt, the Etang de Thau is an important region for supplying oysters and mussels.

Exploring the Etang de Thau

There are several small towns and villages around the Etang de Thau of interest to visitors. Individually they are quite small apart from Sete but each has its own particular highlights. Some of the most popular are:

Balaruc-le-Vieux

Balaruc-le-Vieux

See the Balaruc-le-Vieux guide

 
Bouzigues

Bouzigues

While at Bouzigues you can visit a small museum that explains the history of the Etang de Thau and also the activities such as shellfish farming and fishing that have taken place here over the centuries. See the Bouzigues guide

 

Marseillan

Marseillan

Marseillan is a lively traditional Languedoc town. See the Marseillan guide

 
Sete

Sete

Sete is the biggest and liveliest town here, is to the south-east of the etang and has several interesting monuments - art museums in particular. See the Sete guide

 
Meze

Meze

Meze has a popular dinosaur park. See the Meze guide

 
Loupian

Loupian

The small town of Loupian is often visited for its Roman villa. See the Loupian guide

 

Other activities and attractions

Around the edges of the Etang de Thau you will find pleasure ports at Balaruc-les-Bains, Bouzigues, Meze, Marseillan and Sete and apart from Balaruc-les-Bains each of these towns also has a fishing port.

The region is popular with nature lovers - there are many unusual bird species that inhabit the Etang de Thau. The lagoon itself is also popular with sailing schools and other water activity lovers such as windsurfing and kitesurfing. Despite being surrounded by land the etang is large enough to benefit from the wind conditions necessary to practice these sports.

Around the edges of the lake many activities are available to visitors to the region, including beaches and water based sports, walking and cycling, following local wine routes, taking barge trips along the Canal du Midi, and exploring the attractive towns.

You can find beaches along a large part of the Mediterranean to the south of the etang de Thau although some of them are rather narrow and close to the main road that follows the coast. We suggest you visit the beach at Cap d'Agde a short distance south-west of the Etang.

Balaruc-les-Bains is the largest thermal spa centre along the Mediterranean in France.

See more of the popular beaches and resorts in Languedoc

You can find more local travel ideas in the Herault guide and the Languedoc-Roussillon guide.

See also:

Map of Etang de Thau and places to visit

Visit near Etang de Thau with France This Way reviews

... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Herault

Address: Etang de Thau, Herault, Languedoc-Roussillon, France || GPS: latitude 43.4, longitude 3.6

Plan your visit to Etang de Thau, Languedoc-Roussillon

Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby

  • Etangs du Bagnas: site of natural beauty (12km)
  • Pezenas: recommended detour (16km)
  • Céressou: site of natural beauty (23km)
  • Étangs palavasiens: site of natural beauty (24km)
  • Jardin des carrières de Saint-Adrien: remarkable garden (24km)
  • Parc et jardin du château de Margon: remarkable garden (26km)
  • Cirque du Moureze: site of natural beauty (31km)
  • Cirque de Mourèze: site of natural beauty (31km)
  • Montpellier: secteur sauvegarde (32km)
  • Mare Nostrum: aquarium (34km)

The French version of this page is at Etang de Thau (Francais)