The Languedoc coastline still has many unspoiled places. Like the four secret islands of the Étang Bages-Sigean: Planasse, l’Aute, la Nadière and Sainte-Lucie. These tiny isles all take part in the ancient history of the lagoon between Gruissan, Peyriac-de-Mer and Port-la-Nouvelle. Sainte-Lucie is the biggest of them all, a natural jewel that is part of the Parc Naturel Régional de la Narbonnaise, the natural park near Narbonne.
Every year in June, I have the feeling there is a sudden change of scenery. It’s like someone has pushed a button that has released nature in all its glory. I love exploring the region in the spring, therefore I asked Chéri to join me on a hike around the Île Sainte-Lucie. This protected and privileged site of 825 hectares just outside of Port-la-Nouvelle hosts an incredible biodiversity of fauna and flora. You can either discover the island by foot or by bike in two easy circuits of 3 or 7 kilometres.
The Île Sainte-Lucie has been visited since antiquity, as the remains of a building belonging to a Roman official somewhere around 200 BC tell us. Centuries later, the isle belonged to the church. In the 13th century, many stones from the Île Sainte-Lucie were used to build Narbonne’s cathedral. From the late 18th to the beginning of the 20th century, the island became agricultural land. By that time, the Canal de la Robine had already been there for many years, having been built in 1686. This canal connects the Aude River with the Mediterranean Sea and also flows through Narbonne. The 17th century was also the time of the salt marshes. However, these have been abandoned now, and nature has taken over again.
Of course, Chéri and I went for the big 7 kilometres circuit. After parking the car in the second parking lot (called ‘Parking de l’Île Sainte-Lucie’), we headed for the Canal de la Robine. By crossing the lock, we took our first steps onto Île Sainte-Lucie. We noticed some picnic tables right at the start of the hike, but decided to have our lunch after having walked for a few kilometres. Chéri and I began our walk by following the signs to Roc Saint-Antoine. You can do the circular walk by either starting on the left or the right side. We went to the right first, as my map showed most of the highlights were on this part of the island.
As the trail is very easy to follow, especially with the signs, it isn’t marked. We only saw one marker, pointing us to the right with the path slightly going up. It led to a beautiful viewpoint with a panorama over the Canal de la Robine and the Étang de l’Ayrolle. From here, we walked to the old Domaine of Sainte-Lucie, built in the 17th century and recently renovated. Arriving at Roc Saint-Antoine, we enjoyed our lunch, with another amazing view of the lagoon. Continuing at a leisurely pace, the second half of the hike brought us to the other side of the island through peaceful nature. In the end, we walked 8 kilometres, including the part from and to the parking lot. The Île Sainte-Lucie had such a relaxing effect on both of us, and we returned home full of energy.