Sunday, 18 December 2016

Cycling around the Etang de Canet Saint-Nazaire

Fishing boats and an abandoned canoe 
We had a great couple of hours cycling today which took us right around the Etang de Canet Saint-Nazaire, a large lake just inland from the sea. Now we both have folding bicycles, we can pop them in the car so we aren't restricted to only cycling from our campsites any more. Today we parked up in Saint Cyprien Plage (just over the road from the Total garage) and started by heading inland along the Rue Jouy d'Arnaud as far as Alenya. Once there, we turned right onto the D11 which headed out into open countryside before going through Saint Nazaire and then onto Canet-en-Roussillon. I loved that much of our route was on dedicated off-road cycle tracks, but when it wasn't the French car drivers were extremely courteous. They all made sure to give us a wide berth and several stopped to allow us over crossings too! And we managed to trigger a speed detector whilst riding through Saint Nazaire - we were doing 14kph!

Painted stalls at Canet-en-Roussillon 
Canet-en-Roussillon gave us the first of our two nice surprises because we arrived when a seafront Christmas fair was in full flow. There was a large old-fashioned carousel, several gift and craft stalls and a double row of little wooden cabins selling various foods and drinks and all adorned with fir boughs and twinkly light garlands. We managed to resist the numerous offers of Vin Chaud as we still had quite a way to cycle back. Instead we had a tasty Soupe Maison sprinkled with croutons and gruyere cheese. We did miss out on seeing Santa - a stage was set up with a red velvet covered chair and lots of wrapped presents - but admired the stalls which had been painted with mostly Russian motifs - matryoshka dolls, minarets and nutcracker soldiers. The Christmas fair was very busy which explained why the rest of the town was so quiet!

Carousel at Canet-en-Roussillon 

Village de Pecheurs 
We cycled on the road out of Canet towards Saint Cyprien until the promenade became less busy, then tootled along the prom for a while enjoying great views across the beach and out to sea. Once clear of the town, there is a well-maintained off-road cycle toute parallel to the D81. From this we noticed a number of odd looking buildings grouped off to one side and a rough car park near them so turned off to investigate. This was our second nice surprise - a traditionally built Village de Pecheurs (fishermen's village) which we could walk around. The village comprises of maybe a dozen reed and wood huts which reminded me of the fascinating Irving Finkel book, The Ark Before Noah (Oh reed wall, reed wall!). I don't think I've actually seen reed houses before. Most of the wood used in their construction was washed up on the local beaches and the reeds grow on the shoreline. These huts were renovated in 1993 and aren't actually lived in any more although they are still used to store fishing gear. In the summer one hut is open as a reception with information about the history of the village and the ecology of the lake. There's even suitably rustic-looking wooden bicycle racks and a hoop!

Village de Pecheurs 
From the village, we didn't have much further along the cycle path to return to our car. The whole circuit ended up being just about two hours of actual cycling although it took much longer with our various stops. Dave estimated the distance at about twelve miles and we both appreciated that it was almost entirely flat!


  1. I hope you enjoyed the Christmas fair! I really love cycling so I am glad to hear that you were able to travel all these places and really enjoy doing so :3 Lovely pictures too!

    1. Since I got my cycling nerve back last winter, I love the freedom of exploring by bike. We must come to the Netherlands and cycle there :-)