On the Beach – Le Racou and El Port de la Selva   6 comments

Its hot. Its sunny. You have 2 ankle-biters. You need a day out. Where do you go? Why the beach of course.

This year we were a little closer to the coast than previous years so we did a couple of trips out. In France the beaches are extraordinarily crowded, to a degree that almost defies belief. That, combined with the fact that under a hot sun the sand reflects the heat turning it into a hot plate means it’s not one of my favourites. Still the kids absolutely love it and aren’t bothered by the crowds and happy kids equals happy parents in my book.

Our first day out was to a beach called Le Racou.

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D at Le Racou

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Le Racou

It’s at the end of a vastly long stretch of sand that runs pretty much all the way from the Camargue and finishes here where the Cote Vermeille begins as the Monts D’Alberes hit the sea in a succession of rocky coves and small pebbly beaches. You’d think that a beach as long as that would reduce the crowds but not a bit. you end up crammed into a small space next to your immediate neighbours and have to pick your way through the beach umbrellas and loungers to the sea. The beach shelves steeply but both our kids a decent swimmers so it wasn’t a problem and they seemed perfectly happy dividing their time between sand and water based fun.

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Le Racou and Argeles Plage

All of us (excluding TBF of course) love to Snorkel. I find the Med a little disappointing normally. The water is exceptionally clear but as it’s highly saline there isn’t as much life or colour as you’d find in the Atlantic, although it is much warmer. However here there was a much wider and better variety of underwater life with more colourful fish and anemones and the kids were captivated. It was ideal for them as there was a small rocky outcrop near the beach that they could pretty much walk around.

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Pebble Cove

At the end of the day we decided to visit Collioure a few miles down the coast. It’s a well renowned spot for artists and painters and has been immortalised by Picasso and Matisse to name but two. It’s picture postcard pretty with castles and boats in the harbour and home to a proud sense of Catalan tradition and festivals, one of which seemed to be in full flow when we arrived. Put another way, the place was heaving and I had to park pretty much 2 miles out-of-town and get a bus back. It was party atmosphere with jazz bands playing in the street and everyone dressed in the Catalan yellow and red. Collioure has loads of restaurants but they were all heaving so in the end we chose to sit on the seafront with a takeaway burger and chips. Storm clouds bubbled and we had a short spell of rain and the clouds provided a stunning backdrop as the sun went down.

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Collioure

I’d love to go back on a sunny evening out of season but to be honest, I’d avoid it like the plague in the height of summer.

For a second outing we thought a day out in Spain was in order as we were near the border.

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Cove west of El Port de la Selva

The kids got excited about a new country with its different road signs and subtly different feel. We headed to a place called El Port de la Selva on the strength of the information in the villa which I unfortunately hadn’t read properly. The town itself was lovely but we headed beyond for a walk along the coast to what were described as “stunning coves ideal for snorkelling”. We passed a lovely shingle beach just down from the road and walked along the coast in the fierce midday sun looking for the quieter beach. Note here that the description earlier was “cove” not “beach” so after wandering about getting hot and flustered we gave up on finding the “beach” (as there wasn’t one) and found a perch on the rocks.

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View from our spot on the rocks

Bad news from the point of view of lazing about with clumsy kids in tow (and putting up our beach shelter at its jaunty angle).

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More stable than it looks….

What was superb was the situation a couple of steps from deep, blue, crystal clear water and sensational views up and down the coast. It was a truly stunning spot away from the crowds and in the end worth the walk and the pain of hobbling about on the sharp rocks.

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Looking back towards the town

The best part was the snorkelling, some of the best I’ve seen in the Med.

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L snorkelling

Anenomes, shrimps, fish, urchins were all on display and I managed to get some pretty decent underwater photos

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Anenome

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Shrimp

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Sea Urchin

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Some kind of fish (what am I, Jacques Cousteau?!)

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See above

To keep the kids happy we returned to the beach on the way back to the car where the kids were much happier as they could get into the water with ease.

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Back on the beach – clothes on!

The beach was half nudist and TBF managed to walk through a crowd of old and wrinkly naturists on full “display” as it were without noticing!

The snorkelling here was equally good and the beach remarkably quiet.

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Me and L snorkelling

The highlight of the day however was a french man who caught an octopus and placed it on his fins for all to see before gently returning it the ocean. I’ve seen them at a distance while snorkelling but never close up.

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Paul the Octopus

The kids, D in particular were thrilled and TBF took a pretty decent photo. I asked for some advice on my football predictions but sadly it wasn’t any help.

After the sun went down we went for a very pleasant evening stroll along the promenade in the town, one of my favourite parts of the holiday.

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El Port de la Selva

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El Port de la Selva

We had a comical session trying to order a meal after realising we barely know a word of Spanish between us, with my ability to order a large beer proving of limited use. We watched the sun go down over the mountains and the bay and boats as a fitting end to one of the best days of the trip before a long and late drive home.

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Sunset over the bay

This coast needs more exploration and there are some fantastic coastal walks along wild uninhabited stretches of rocky shoreline – just not in the midday August sun!

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6 responses to “On the Beach – Le Racou and El Port de la Selva

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  1. Loving the underwater picks.
    I’d forgotten just how busy med beaches tend to be (haven’t been there for a very long time!). You seem to have made the best of it. Only TBF could wander through a bunch of wrinkly naturists and not notice!

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    beatingthebounds
    • I was pretty chuffed myself with the underwater shots. They don’t always come out that well. Hard to take a macro shot of a moving target while you floating in the water. The beach in Spain wasn’t much busier than than Towyn – it was a stunning bit of coast but man was it hot!

      TBF also got lost in the undergrowth about 10 yards off the path after having to answer a call of nature – must have affected her visual acuities – mind you the wrinkly nudists is an image I’d rather not have in my head. Last chicken the shop look 😦

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  2. Wow, so beautiful beaches and what is more better, is Your photos. It was a great joy to study them without any time pressure and just to enjoy them.

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  3. Seeing the anemones reminded me of a first year experiment we had to do at uni, which involved trying to feed them things which we knew they wouldn’t want to eat, like cotton wool – can’t for the life of me remember what the point of it all was…sounds awfully cruel now as well…

    Looks like it was excellent day out though!

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    • Whatever did those poor anenomes ever do to you 🙂
      I’ve eaten some stuff before that tasted worse than cotton wool so I don’t suppose it was too cruel.
      Twas indeed a grand day out with some top notch wildlife thrown in. When they relaesed the octopus back into the wild it shot off under my ample behind whil I was sitting in the water – gave me a bit of a shock!

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