Get trunks, take bus, swim

As temperatures begin pushing 35°C over the summer months in Montpellier the appeal of a refreshing swim increases dramatically. Fortunately, for those willing to brave a bus ride, there are plenty of options, from rivers to the sea. Here you’ll find quick guides to some of the easily accessible beaches and a hidden gem near the beautiful village of Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert.


Next stop the beach


The simplest, most direct way of getting a bus from Montpellier to the sea is by taking the the 106 to Carnon and eventually La Grande Motte. Bus 106 now goes from Place de France, the penultimate stop, by the cinema, of the line one tram going out to Odysseum. The 106 leaves every 30 minutes and stops at the seaside towns of Carnon, after 15 minutes, and La Grande Motte, after 30 minutes.


Between these two towns runs a long, thin strip of beach that the bus stops along at several points. None of the sections of beach are particularly beautiful, and can get crowded during the summer, but all provide the basics for lovers of sun and sea.


Bikes, trams, and automobiles


For those willing to take a more circuitous route the beach near Villeneuve-lès-Maguelone is worth checking out. From the city centre you need to take a tram, bus, and finally a bike but it’s all covered by the same return ticket, leaving you with change from €3. In return you get a relaxed, scenic bike ride and arguably a nicer stretch of beach than near Carnon and La Grande Motte.


Interested? You’ll need to get to Garcia Lorca on the line four tram. Depending on where you’re starting from it might be as easy to walk but it’s worth remembering that you won’t pay any extra to take the tram. The 32 bus leaves from Garcia Lorca a couple of times an hour from Monday to Saturday but only a few times all day on Sunday.


Once aboard the bus you’re a 25 minute ride from the stop, Pilou, from where you pick up the bikes which, mercifully, are a different design from the Velomaggs in the city centre. You’ll need your tram ticket and a passport or driving license to pick up the bikes but after that you’re just a short ride along a path to the beach. The bikes are only available in July and August so outside these months you have to walk.


Picnic at flowing water


Heading out to the beach is the quickest way to an outdoor dip but for the best you must go inland. By taking the 308 bus from Mosson to Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, a village well worth an afternoon of your time, you arrive within a short walk of a tranquil spot by the Herault river. Walk back the way the bus came, there’s a footpath on the left hand side, following the river and the road. After a while you’ll come to an old ruin where you can get down to the river. This is a nice spot for a picnic but the best swimming is a little further along.


Carry on along the path until it brings you out at a bend in the road. Across the road there’s a gravelly lay-by where you’ll often see cars parked. Turn back to face the river and follow the slightly precarious path down. After a minute it opens out and you’ll see the cascades, a series of mini-waterfalls and plunge pools that create a beautiful spot for swimming. Just be a little wary of the currents and the occasional rock jutting out.


After the spring rains, the cascades may be more aptly named the deluge. The calmer waters down at le Pont du Diable  (Devil’s bridge) may be more appealing for a swim.

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