Etang de Thau travel guide

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Visit Etang de Thau (Occitanie, France)

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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.

Explore the Etang de Thau

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.

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:



See the Balaruc-le-Vieux guide



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 is a lively traditional Languedoc town. See the Marseillan guide



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 has a popular dinosaur park. See the Meze guide



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 travel ideas in the Herault guide and the Languedoc-Roussillon guide.

See also: 

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Map of Etang de Thau and places nearby


Visit near Etang de Thau with France This Way reviews



The harbour is the centre of activity in the fishing village of Meze, with oyster production active here for hundreds of years

Meze guide


Take a stroll around the town of Loupian, then visit the 1st century mosaics at the nearby Roman villa

Loupian guide


No visit to Bouzigues, on the Etang de Thau, would be complete without sampling the fresh oysters and mussels

Bouzigues guide


Marseillan is one of the liveliest harbour towns on the Etng de Thau

Marseillan guide


Sete is a very active harbour town on the Etang de Thu

Sete guide


Balaruc-le-Vieux is a small village on the Etang-de-Thau and near Balaruc-le-Bains, a long-established spa town

Balaruc-le-Vieux guide

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

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

Plan your visit to Etang de Thau, Herault

Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby

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

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