Surrounded by lagoons and salt pans, the village of Gruissan sits proudly around the ruined 13th century Barbarousse Tower. Its name apparently arises from a legend that the infamous pirate Barbarossa built it, but it was constructed long before his time and there is no evidence that he even visited the region.
But Gruissan is not only the medieval village built in concentric rings around the tower. It is also a major port with several marinas packed full of sailing vessels and speedboats. Then there are the beaches, the most famous being the beach of Pilotis where cottages stand on stilts and where the cult movie of Betty Blue was filmed. In fact there is something for everyone in Gruissan, but I still find it to be a disappointment. The weekly market is only a few stalls of local veg and winter clothes, the stilts of the beach cottages have been turned into concrete garages and my two attempts at visiting the tower are in vain. First due to a vicious looking youth with an even more vicious looking dog barring the way and then by a locked gate, despite the sign saying that it should be open. Perhaps it’s the dull grey day or even the fact that it is January and not really the season to be visiting a coastal resort. Or perhaps it’s just me.