La Grande Cosse - Llanguedoc-Roussillon - France

Mike Morley and his wife enjoyed a stay at La Grande Cosse in 2002.

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Earlier in the year we had been agonising over whether to visit the Mediterranean region or the Atlantic coast for a break at the end of June and early July. We are now retired (nominally) folks so we are not confined to school holidays and try to pick a time when the weather has warmed up but the crowds are not too thick. Postings and questions to URN helped with information on both regions and their resorts and we chose to investigate La Grande Cosse. Some notes from BN and browsing the Web led us to the Club Holidays website A printed brochure provided reinforcement and we “Contacted Ann for Details” as advised.  After a very friendly discussion we made a booking for our preferred 10 day spell including all of the travel arrangements for air travel and car hire. There was the option to do all of these separately if we had wanted to make our own travel arrangements and just take the accommodation itself.

The arrangements were to fly from Gatwick to Montpelier on a Wednesday, pick up a hire care and drive to La Grande Cosse returning the same way the following Saturday. We were fortunate not to pick the week earlier as this was the week that the French air traffic controllers decided to go on strike. On our chosen day the hassle of travelling by air was routine and on arrival at Montpellier we made contact with Tim, our host, who was there to pick up other Club Holidays arrivals and he gave us some final helpful travel details.

An hour and a bit later we arrived on site with the temperature in the high 20’s and bright shiny Mediterranean sunshine and rapidly got rid of our clothes.

A few words about Club Holidays are appropriate here as it is an unusual set up. La Grande Cosse is a French run site with around a thousand pitches, which will take anything from a miniature tent to a large caravan or mobile home. The site provides electricity and, for the static homes, water and drainage as well. On the site is a decent supermarket, a restaurant, swimming pools and for those in tents plenty of shower and loo blocks. There are facilities for games of all sorts. Club Holidays (Tim and Becky) own and look after about 20 mobile homes permanently installed in one area of the site. This is their first year on taking over from Alan and Hilary who had owned and operated the business for many years. They run a variety of activities during the week with trips to local attractions, evening meal outings to local restaurants and some sporting activities. Guests are free to take part or not according to their preferences and there is no pressure to do anything if one does not wish to.

Our mobile home was, in effect, a decent sized holiday apartment with all the usual en-suite and catering facilities. In our version there were two bedrooms and for the two of us the smaller one was useful to store clothes and other things that we would not use much during our stay. Unless you are leaving the site the only reason for wearing clothes is to keep warm. Although the daytime temperatures were very respectable between about 23 to 30 degrees C the evenings and early mornings could be quite chilly, down to about 15. Like much of Europe we were visiting at a time when temperatures were a bit below normal. Winds varied between flat calm, a moderate sea breeze in the afternoon to a fairly stiff northwest wind which was OK during the day but needed trousers and a sweater in the evening.

This part of the Mediterranean coast is very flat with, in some cases, sand spits enclosing Etangs or lagoons, and salt marsh areas some of which dry out in the summer and flood in the winter. La Grande Cosse is set back a bit from the sea across dry scrub land (Garrigue?). The path across it has a couple of bridges to cross creeks that were still wet when we were there and forms a pleasant naturist walk (or cycle ride) to the beach. The beach is magnificent, wide with fine sand, about two miles of it all naturist between the nearest village St. Pierre sur Mer in the west to Les Cabanes de Fleury in the east.  At the shoreline the dip into the sea is very gentle with fine firm sand under you feet all the way out to swimming depth, plenty of room for children and the less confident. Again, possibly unusually, we found the sea a bit chilly with water temperatures around 20 degrees.

If you do wish to get off site and have transport there are plenty of places to visit within easy range, we visited the nearby market at St. Pierre sur Mer, the historic town of Narbonne and the Domaine de l’Hospitalet, a vineyard in the La Clape hill area, which had diversified into a museum. If you do not have transport Tim and Becky run a variety of excursions, some with a picnic lunch included.

Our typical day might start with a walk to the supermarket for the fresh French baguette to provide the basis for a leisurely breakfast. The big decisions followed, should it be a visit to the beach, a walk along one of the paths through the scrubland or just a pleasant idle time “at home” with a choice of sun or shade under the gazebo just outside the door. A social chat with some of the neighbours and the usual swapping of information on other naturist venues might follow. We also took part in the weekly boules tournament and managed to win.

We went out with the party on a couple of evenings to a meal at local restaurants, transported and hosted by Tim and Becky so that the need to drive back did not stop the flow of good local wine. We are no great “self caterers” so other meals were taken in the site restaurant, found in the takeaway, or exceptionally with an excellent “Meal in Jar” found in the supermarket. One evening a week Tim fires up the barbecue so that you can bring your own food for a communal “cook-out”.

So, was it a good choice? Emphatically, yes. We enjoyed the relaxed freedom and the opportunity for social contact, the accommodation and environment lived up to our expectations. The timing of our visit also seemed about right with a build up of available facilities at the start of the season but no sense of overcrowding.  The only downsides were the swimming pool, which was a constant 1.6m depth and did not suit Evelyn who likes to get her feet on the bottom, and the mosquitoes, which seem to come out and get us in the evenings. (We understand that a new swimming pool is due to be built and the mossies might be less prevalent in a drier year).  And shall we go again? Very likely, but there are so many other places and only so much time!

If you have any comments about this report or wish to add further information  please email them to:
neffupdate @ ada-augusta . demon . co . uk

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