When visiting the coastline of Languedoc, you have to visit the futuristic-looking seaside resort of La Grande Motte. This town was entirely designed by architect Jean Balladur in the 1960s and officially opened in 1974. As the weather was perfect, with the bluest blue sky, I drove to this famous coastal town to finally see it with my own eyes.
I have to say I was a bit sceptical when I visited La Grande Motte for the first time. Of course, I had seen the iconic images of its extraordinary architecture by Jean Balladur. But when I arrived, I took me a while to get into it. From far away, the pyramid-shaped apartments look amazing and intriguing. However, upon taking a closer look, the buildings look a bit outdated…
Soon enough though, while strolling around the harbour, I discovered the beauty of La Grande Motte. The white buildings, inspired on the historical pre-Colombian site of Teotihuacan in Mexico, perfectly match with the blue sky. La Grande Motte became Jean Balladur’s masterpiece, on which he worked for almost 30 years. Being a visionary, the minimalist architect provided the perfect base for the sustainable and green town it is nowadays. Since 2010, La Grande Motte is even officially classified as “Twentieth Century Heritage” by the French Ministry of Culture.
It’s hard to believe that it has only been 50 years since the first pyramid style building arose at the Quai Pompidou. La Grande Motte was created on virgin land in the 1960s, as part of the “Racine mission” to develop the Languedoc coastline. They succeeded, as today the coastal town attracts about 2 million visitors a year! I visited the town when it wasn’t in the high season of July and August. Meaning that I didn’t really notice the crowds and I could peacefully stroll around.
More to discover
As I drove back home, I had to conclude that La Grande Motte was a pleasant surprise. Because all the buildings are built in the same style, the beach resort forms an architectural unit. During the summer, there are lots of events, guided tours and other activities organised for visitors. I definitely have to go back to do the photo walking tour. And the visit by catamaran to see the skyline. Or learn all about marine turtles. And, and, and… still lots to discover in La Grande Motte!