Situated at the mouth of the River Hérault, Agde was founded by the Greeks and is known as the “black pearl of the Mediterranean” due to its volcanic stone buildings. Don’t miss: the Romanesque St Etienne Cathedral, the Agathois Museum, the Musée de l’Ephèbe at Cap d’Agde, Fort Brescou….
Pézénas, now listed as an Artistic Heritage town, was once home to fairs and the Languedoc Assembly. The world famous play writer Molière and his famous theatre also originated from the town. Don’t miss: 16th, 17th, 18th c. town houses, the collegiate church of St Jean, the Musée Vulliod, St Germain… Nearby: the 12th c. Valmagne Abbey, on the Villeveyrac road, is a fine example of Cistercian architecture.
A few miles from Clermont l’Hérault you’ll find the Lac Salagou spread out in a colourful, picturesque landscape, the royal cloth factory at Villeneuvette (17th c.), the Cirque de Mourèze and its enormous natural sculptures (starting point of a number of walks).
Go over the Pont du Diable and enter the narrow Hérault Gorge, a superb canyon much enjoyed by canoeing enthusiasts. Then, stop off at St Guilhem le Désert. The medieval village, with its steep, narrow streets, is on one of the routes to Santiago de Compostela, and the Gellone Abbey is an outstanding example of 9th and 11th c. Romanesque architecture.
On the way, don’t miss: the Grotte de Clamouse, a cave whose beautiful crystal formations are superbly presented.
The Bassin de Thau is a lagoon linked by canals to the sea and is a major centre for the production of shellfish. Marseillan, Mèze and Bouzigues, the villages on the northern shore, share their activities between fishing, shellfish farming and winemaking. Try a platter of oysters and mussels, washed down by a bottle of Vermentino/Lie from Preignes. On the south side of the lagoon and overlooked by the Mont St Clair, Sète, known as the “unique island”, is the leading fishing port on the French Mediterranean.
On the way, don’t miss: the Noilly Prat Cellars on the port at Marseillan, the Vias Domitia in Pinet, the Mèze “Ecosite”, the Gallo-Roman villa in Loupian, the circular village of Poussan, the Etang de Thau Museum in Bouzigues, Balaruc-les-Bains, the Georges Brassens Centre, the Musée Paul Valéry and the Musée International d’Art Modeste à Sète (museum of every day objects).