The Bassin de Thau is a large area of brackish water, surrounded by land but with direct access to the Mediterranean. Lying roughly midway between
Montpellier in the East and Beziers in the West, it is surrounded by towns and villages of great character. The Bassin itself is a massive mussel and oyster bed, with many other varieties of shellfish. Centred
on the extinct volcano of Mont St Clair is the busy industrial and fishing town of Sete, renowned for its port, canals and rich, spiced seafood cuisine.
Several miles to the West, at the other end of a thin strip of land (which comprises a beach, dunes, railway, road and some vines) lies Agde and the Cap.
The old town of Agde was a Greek and then Roman port, lying around the foot of another extinct volcano and near the mouth of the mighty Herault river. Downstream, either side of the mouth of the Herault, are two
picturesque fishing villages, Le Grau d’Agde and La Tamarissiere. Due South of Agde lies the modern, fashionable marina resort of Cap d’Agde. Built as part of a massive French investment in
the Languedoc coast after the mosquitoes were substantially cleared, the Cap seeks to emulate the fashionable Provence marina villages and hosts Europe’s largest nudist colony at the Port Ambonne
neighbourhood, with high rise appartments, restaurants, supermarkets and cinemas.
The North coast of the Bassin has several beautiful villages, most notably Bouzigues (centre of oyster production), Meze (fishing port, leisure marina
and rapidly developing tourist centre) and Marseillan (fishing port and home to Noilly Prat, the superb French vermouths).
While some wine is made from the vines on the strip of sand between Sete and Agde (the vins de sable) the main area of wine interest lies in the
rich fertile soils North of the coastal villages. In this rich environment, it would be easy to produce large quantities of low quality wine (which is what they used to do there...). But many of the
local wine makers have worked hard and are producing excellent and interesting New World style varietals along with traditional wines such as the Picpoul de Pinet.