La Perle Gruissanaise in Gruissan is a hidden gem that I’d love to share with you. It’s not a real restaurant where you sit down, look at the menu, and a waiter comes and takes your order. In fact, La Perle Gruissanaise is a wholesale seafood seller. You can buy your oysters and other fruits de mer by weight and take them home. Or, and this is the part I really enjoy, you can eat everything on the spot. With an amazing view over the big blue bay.
The French word for a shellfish farmer is “conchyliculteur”. Now try to say that five times fast… La Perle Gruissanaise came up with this really simple concept; you just have to know about it when visiting for the first time. When you enter the not very inspirational building, you start by looking at what kind of seafood is for sale that day. It is written on a blackboard, along with the price. They sell complete “plateaux de fruits de mer”, but also wild salmon or even caviar.
I arrived rather late, so I could choose between oysters, shrimps, bulots and mussels. Only the shrimps and bulots were cooked, the oysters and mussels were eaten raw. Once I had chosen my seafood, the person behind the counter asked if I wanted bread, aioli, lemon and wine. Next, you pay at the counter, where you get a ticket with your number. After collecting your plate, glass, cutlery and bucket for empty shells, you can go and find yourself a place to sit.
Dinner with a great view
As the weather was great, I sat at one of the colourful picnic tables outside, overlooking the beautiful “étang”, a bay which flows into the Mediterranean Sea. After about 15 minutes, I collected my dish with fruits de mer at the counter outside by showing the ticket I received earlier. The cool thing is that you can bring your own wine, salads, chips or whatever, as long as you buy your seafood there. Complete families were sitting there, enjoying their seafood lunch. You cannot get your seafood any fresher, straight off the boat and onto your plate.