To reach the deserted beach of the Plage des Chalets, you have to go to a remote corner of Gruissan. And just when you think you can’t go any further, you’re there. I love going to this off the beaten track spot along the Mediterranean coastline, renowned for its shabby chic chalets. Although you could say that the wooden houses are more shabby than chic… You either love it or hate it.
37,2°C le Matin
Either way, there is something special about the Plage des Chalets. And not only because of the cult French movie ’37,2°C le Matin’, or ‘Betty Blue’ as it’s called in English, starring Béatrice Dalle. Director Jean-Jacques Beineix and his crew believed that the film couldn’t have been shot anywhere else than this isolated no man’s land. My family and I always enjoy going there to take a big gulp of fresh air. At La Plage des Chalets, the sandy beach is wide, the sea is blue, and there is enough space for everyone.
However, even in this remote place you can find some entertainment. There are several beach restaurants, from hip and happening to easy-going snack bars. If you want to have the real Plage des Chalets experience, you should go to La Perle Gruissanaise at the far end of the beach. Or you can play a game of beach volleyball or rent equipment at Akila Gruissan to practice several water sports. Wind or kite surfing, sailing a mini catamaran, kayaking, or even trying to keep your balance on a giant stand up paddleboard are amongst the possibilities.
The Plage des Chalets, named after the 1330 wooden houses on stilts, is unique in France. This neighbourhood of chalets, located on the strip of land between the Étang de Grazel and the Med, spreads over 11 rows. In 1590, the first wooden huts, without the stilts, were built by the fishermen. These unstable huts didn’t survive the sometimes-powerful waves, though. So, a few centuries later, around 1860, when the first seaside tourists arrived, they decided to create wooden chalets. To make them stronger, the vacationers eventually built the chalets on stilts. It wasn’t until after WWII that the site was rebuilt. Over the years, the chalets were modernised, including water and electricity in the 1970s. Don’t bother looking for the chalet featured in Betty Blue, though. Without spoiling the ending too much, it went up in flames as part of the plot.