The sleepy village of La Palme on the Mediterranean coast can easily be overlooked. However, the family and I have spent a lovely couple of days at this peaceful and relaxing place. Situated in the middle of the Parc Naturel Régional de la Narbonnaise and surrounded by salt marshes and lagoons, it’s nature lover’s paradise. And the sportier ones among you can hop on a kite or windsurfing board thanks to the omnipresent North Westerly wind called La Tramontana.
While staying at La Palme, Chéri and I had a morning ritual of getting fresh bread for our breakfast. On our way to the boulangerie, we liked to walk via the Grand Rue lined with palm trees and colourful facades. And on our way back, we passed under the clock tower, which used to be one of the gateways to enter the fortified village. It surprised us to see that La Palme- with less than 2,000 inhabitants- has several excellent shops and restaurants. Beer can be bought at the local brewery Brasserie 5Bis, and Domaine Mamaruta has great organic wines. Restaurant-wise, we loved going to L’Echo des Saisons and La Pacheyrasso near the salt marshes.
Yes, life is good at La Palme! Of course, there’s always the beach, and Plage du Rouet is the one to visit. Or you can pay for a guided visit of the salt marshes. From May to September, you can make a reservation for the tourist train or a horse and carriage. As the area around La Palme is a protected conservation area, it is one of the rare areas along the Mediterranean coast without urban development. Therefore, chances are high that you will spot flamingoes and other fauna and flora. The high quality of the salt in the marshes was already appreciated during the Antiquity. That’s why you will find several ruins from times long past, like a Romain chapel from the 10th century. The windmill in the picture below also dates from the Roman era.
Lavoir de la Païcherasse
From the old quarry, you will have the best view of the salt marshes, with pink hues if you’re lucky. The quarry workers used to seek shelter in the so-called capitelles, stone huts built without mortar. You can still find three of them near the ancient washing place, called the lavoir de la Païcherasse, 1.5 km east of the village. We had visited La Palme before in summer when the weather was hot. After a short walk in the direction of the lavoir, the cool water was a big surprise for the kids. Even in summer, the water temperature stays around 18 degrees, thanks to the nearby spring, and we all had an energizing dip before heading back to La Palme.