Etang de l’Or – Les Cabanes

Summer finally returned to the south of France this weekend and I had big plans to travel far afield for some more Languedoc exploration. But, along with the warm weather came a national railway strike that has not petered out yet and makes it a bit risky to leave town. The SNCF is guaranteeing a few trains per day this weekend, but I read that this morning even those (presumably) weren’t running because of PEOPLE ON THE TRAIN TRACKS! If anyone wonders how the French got 35-hour work weeks, 5 weeks paid vacation a year and free university, just come visit for a week. I can almost guarantee you’ll hit a strike!

So, in solidarity with my railway brothers and sisters, I also boycotted the train and found a place on the map that I hadn’t been to. I exited Montpellier on one of its many great cycling paths.

And, after hanging a right at Mauguio, found myself on this quiet, flat road.

Which led me to the imaginatively named ‘Les Cabanes’.

But maybe I should back up a bit and try and explain the title of this entry. An etang is usually translated to English as ‘pond’, but it seems they take many different forms in French. The etang I rode to today is in fact a salt water lagoon, and as you can see from the map below, separated from the Mediterranean by only a narrow strip of land. It is very shallow, un-populated (this one at least), and filled with waterfowl.

The cabanes in Les Cabanes are fishing cabins, holiday homes, and some permanent residences, I think. The whole scene was striking, since I usually head to the hills north of the city. This little place had a rustic, salty quietude that immediately reminded me of southern Thailand…without the spicy food and cheap beer, unfortunately.

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