Paprikash Shores of Lake Salagou

Lake Salagou

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Simply stunning.

The memorable red earth sticks to your toes as you walk the shores; you look out to green water at the feet of mountainous landscape. Is this heaven? Not a cloud in the sky, a breeze whistles in your ear and children laugh and play near by.

Why is it red? The geologic phenomenon is the rock has a high iron oxide content making them brick red.

This man made lake made by flooding a river, offers a great alternative to the crowded Mediterranean beaches and the perfect retreat about one hour from Capestang.

Beaches can get crowded and has little for lush green vegetation offering its shade. The lakes and rivers in the Languedoc are superb, with clean warm waters and a more reclusive day. The more remote the less restaurants and WC areas, so take extra precautions when preparing for your day.

As you hunt for a more private spot, the more nudists you will encounter. It is part of being in France and something you to get used to. ‘C’est la vie.’

I asked my French friends the last time at the beach if this is the norm, about to rip off my top in the whole fitting into our new French life thing, when they say, ‘No, that is our parents generation. We are more than fine wearing our cute bikinis.’  The tourists are the ones taking off their tops, enjoying their moments of half nude freedoms. For my friends, all around my age, it is redundant and they do not bat an eyelash at nudity, even when men change at the beach in the open. Hmm.

We started our day at Lake Salagou with a strong latte at the cafe, and made our way to the shore for a picnic lunch.

At first, I found the waters murky where weeds met my feet as I waded along the shallow muddy shore line where earth meets water. Here the strange red terrain mixes as the people kick up the ground from the bottom as they swim. Most people wear flip-flops or plastic sandals to swim and walk the beaches of this beautiful lake.

We decide to move camp to the rocky area where children swim in a safely marked off area with floating buoys. Little rounded rocks that trample the weeds, line the lake here, to make an ideal swimming hole.

We enjoy a sun-quenched afternoon of resting and dipping in the water when we got too hot. The kids enjoyed ice-cream from the local high priced vendor.

Then onwards towards the viewpoint, the kids run far ahead. We hike over a stream, through a shaded green forest, up the mountainous terrain where cacti and succulents live in the open sun and once we reached our destination, the reward was a birds-eye view of the waters below. Busy with activity, the lake was full of people: sailing, canoeing and splashing.

On this side of the lake are large red rocks with sunbathers stretched out on them, enjoying a more peaceful area away form the tourists. We charged in and changed all that with our three children jumping and splashing into the deeper waters. No weeds here, we tread water as sailboats whizz by and the rest of our gang joined in on the fun as they dropped their clothes.

What was this feeling? Had I been here before? Calmness and peace settled over me and I felt grateful. A cool breeze through my hair, my family swam close by reveling the day and me enjoying our friends’ company.

At 5:00pm the sun was still strong; these are the endless summer days of southern France people hear so much about. Bliss.

That’s Hamori!



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  1. Yes I think that was a film featuring Brigid Bardot where she and her ‘boyfriend’ were expected to paint the whole lot – I’ve always been fascinated by those houses – I expect people either love them or hate them but to me they have a special character all of their own.

    At the moment very much hoping to get to Capestang for October but undergoing a medical investigation, so will need the all clear from the doc to travel. Reasonably confident it will be ok.

  2. We managed to see the windsurfing competition this spring in Gruissan. They have those amazing beaches, and the houses on stilts that are famous in the french film ??, (It is not coming to me)
    Are you here in Capestang Mike?

  3. Alfonz wants to go back to learn how to windsurf. I learned back home when I lived in Vancouver on Kits beach. The winds made it tough to get back in to shore, and I kept crashing into the rocks.

    Everyone else went home and I just kept at it.

    The instructor passed me for my windsurfing ticket just from sheer determination.

    I used to sail Hoby 16&20 Catamarans and Kayaked during my single days at Jericho sailing club. Total water baby. If only I had more time to enjoy it.

  4. I recall going there years ago with a French friend, Lucie – I hired one of those small sail floats – I’d never tried sailing before – Lucie kept saying ‘Adieu’ – the light breeze came in fits and starts but I got to the middle, with the occasional ‘Adieu Mike’ still emanating from the shore where Lucie and Mavis were keeping an ‘anxious watch’ but eventually made it back to the shore and delivered it back to the hirer who turned out to be an Aussie – they get everywhere sport!

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