A Wonderful Wilderness

Where nature flourishes

Joan

5/28/20243 min read

We recently moved our boat mooring to a spot on the Canal Rhône Sète. But its location was hardly auspicious. In order to find it, we had to drive to the most industrial part of Sète where they have recently expanded the dock area. We see thousands of new vehicles lined up along the banks, while great cranes and concrete silos dominate the scene. From the busy dual carriageway here, we take a by- road which leads within a minute or so to our mooring. As if to make matters worse, as the canal rounds a bend, just in front of us lie the enormous tanks of the giant oil storage depot at Frontignan. It is completely surrounded by an ugly chain link fence and razor wire. Why on earth had we chosen to leave the popular holiday port of Cap d'Agde with all its wonderful facilities, for this?

An oil storage depot close by.
An oil storage depot close by.
The tow path .
The tow path .

In order to retrieve our car from the port of Frontignan, we had to walk past this industrial monstrosity. But what a pleasant surprise we had in store. Between Sète and Aigues Mortes, this canal runs through an extremely wild area, with lagoons on either side. A flock of flamingoes dabbled in the lagoon just beyond our mooring, while gulls and terns soared above us. Wild flowers of every possible variety line the banks, as well as samphire and beautiful seeding grasses. What's more, it was so utterly peaceful. The only people we passed were a couple of cyclists on the opposite bank and a solitary walker;

Flamingoes
Flamingoes

As we got closer to the the oil depot we were faced with hostile fencing and razor wire. But the place was utterly deserted , and even here we found a certain beauty and tranquillity. Almost intertwined with the razor wire, scarlet poppies grew, while punica and cistus bushes flowered profusely nearby. Somehow, in spite of ugly human intervention, nature will always re-establish itself.

Scarlet poppies grow alongside razor wire
Scarlet poppies grow alongside razor wire
Cistus flowering
Cistus flowering
The Punica is flowering.
The Punica is flowering.

This is absolutely clear. Where roads end, and man makes himself scare, nature will reimpose itself and create beauty.

And so, now that we have spent a night at our mooring , how do we find it? We are delighted. It is surprisingly peaceful here. The local fishermen are friendly, and even our neighbour waves to us from her house on the opposite bank. The historic port of Sète, overlooked by Mont Saint Clair, lies close by, and we are within a stones throw of the étang and the sea. But perhaps, best of all, just an hour away along the canal , lies my favourite place in the whole of Hérault, the magical Isle of Maguelone. I shall tell you about it in my next blog.

A nearby cottage
A nearby cottage

Traditional 'cabanes' line the canal.

Opposite our boat
Opposite our boat
La Peyrade, nearby.
La Peyrade, nearby.