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The spot of Gruissan plage is one of the most beautiful spots I've tried so far! That's why it is the one where every year in May they keep the Defi Wind. A lot of wind, flat and emerald water, and a fantastic natural landscape.

 

Windsurf spot review: Gruissan (France)

This review refers to the condition that the spot offers with Mistral or with Tramontana wind, which are the conditions in which I tested the spot. Probably, the spot also works with winds from the south, east and west (it is open on all sides), but to be honest I prefer to speak of the conditions in which the spot was actually tested.

The area around Gruissan, if possible, is even more beautiful, with wonderful hills, ponds and canals everywhere (in some points, except for the milder temperatures, reminded me of certain areas of Ireland), vineyards and wine farms. Even the first image of Gruissan village struck me immediately, view from the road that reaches it from Narbonne: the cliff at the center of the village, on which the remains of Frederick Redbeard tower dominate, surrounded by the houses of the village.

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Gruissan village

 

To reach the spot (see map below), once you get through the village of Gruissan, take the road (Avenue de la Jetée Tr) along the canal that allows the boats going out to sea from Gruissan village.
At the end of the road, on the right (looking to the sea) of the campers area, there is a small square where you can park on weekdays, during periods when the spot is not particularly crowded (we were there in June ). Otherwise, at the left side of campers area there are other parking options, even if they are less comfortable since you have to carry the equipment for a while. In front of the square, there is a small harbor, overlooked by a bar, and a windsurf shop (L'oc Surf le Cers), and the school of windsurfing, kitesurfing and sailing Pole Nautique Gruissan, where you can rent or take lessons.

 

 

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The first day I was in Gruissan plage for a preliminary survey in the late afternoon, it was love at first sight. I immediately noticed that there were windsurfers beyond the canal (ie, in the beach to the west of this), that were surfing in exceptional conditions: they were riding at ten meters from the waterline, in flat water, and with a strong and constant wind. But how to get there? Behind the beach, there are the salt-marshes, and only a few dirt and long roads reach it. These roads, moreover, end before reaching the shore, and there are at least 300-400 meters of beach to walk carring equipment.... (only some off-road reach the vicinity of the waterline).

 

 

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To enter into the water, as I have learned the first day asking to the windsurfing school, there are three choices.

 

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The first consists in crossing the canal swimming with the equipment. In the vicinity of the closing bar at the entrance of the space (I found always open), there are concrete steps (see photo) that allow you to dive into the canal. About ten meters further south, on the opposite, there is a gap of sand between the rocks that surround the banks. I cautiously preferred to carry first the board (then I left it on the beach with the bow heading to wind and with the fin well stuck in the sand - I had 40 knots!), and then the sail, making two swims. I saw some experienced local doing bodydrag in water for a few meters to reach the opposite bank. But it is a method that you can try only if you have full control of the equipment in this conditions. In addition, it should be kept in mind that managing board and sail over the concrete steps, with strong gusts, can be risky (I saw people who were, nearly, damaging the equipment in this way). Frankly, crossing the canal twice is not particularly difficult, and indeed is, in some ways, something funny and entertaining. Since July 2016, the beach and the hinterland beyond the canal (west) have been declared a national park. Nonetheless, in June 2017, we personally experienced that it is still possible to cross the canal and access the spot beach, to the west of the canal. If you have any doubts, ask the schools on the spot, or try to get information by contacting this group on Facebook.

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Alternatively, you can do a beach start with water almost to your chest (almost a waterstart), on port tack (only with winds from the north) on the right side of the harbor (looking towards the sea). Then, you start almost immediately planing.... on port tack, and you take the exit in the sea from the harbour. Once outside, you change to starboard tack and head towards the wsest beach. Doing like this, you need a certain ability in sailing, because there are rocks everywhere.

 

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As third choice, you can get out from the beach to the east of the harbor and then sail to the West. Be aware that, in this case, you'll have to sail a bit 'more far from the shore, with all the risks of doing this. Some remain surfing in the East beach (the one where the Defi Wind starts), but in summer it is also accessible to bathers and partially reserved for bathing.

 

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I've always preferred to cross the canal, 'cause it's shorter and safer. You can read the complete report of my sessions,  by clicking here.
Once there, it takes little to understand that you are in an amazing spot. 50 meters after the easy point to cross the canal, you reach the shore. There you have a few surfers (5 to 20 surfers in the water in June in the weekdays), and you have available all the water you want. The windsurfers ride near the shore in half a meter of water, almost in silence, except for the 40 knots of wind, which are not exactly silent.... Flat and shallow water for at least fifty meters, emerald seas, immaculate white sand, the beach and a few with silhouettes of humans dispersed in its immensity.

 

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The conditions of the spot let you try and try all freeride and freestyle maneuvers you want. The wind is tough (at least the one that I found there), and decidedly offshore. But the spot, although not suitable for novice, it is reasonably safe, because you touch the bottom with your feet for 50 to 60 meters from the shore, it is popular (you are seldom alone there), and waves are almost absent (though, at a hundred meters from the waterline a chop forms and it is exploitable for some jumps for freestyle). Thus the recovery of the sail while standing on the board is not impossible, but with 30 to 40 knots it is better (less strenuous) know how to do very well the waterstart. Most riders jibe in the sea near the shore, and near the mouth of the canal (water even more flat, if possible). Staying close to the shore, when you miss the maneuver and you fall, often you end up in a zone where you have water at the waist or chest. Indeed, looking at the sea bottom paying attention, also in the opposite direction (towards West), you can go on purpose just to jibe in the shallows, where the sea looks clearer, so that, in case of error, you touch the bottom with your feet and you can rest.

 

 

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From the canal mouth the beach spreads westward for several kilometers ... So, if you wish, you can enjoy almost endless ride. The Defi Wind, in fact, starts from here and get to Leucate, with rides between buoys of 12 miles ....

In short, Gruissan plage is a fantastic spot, that all windsurfers dream. 

With winds from the south, the spot satisfies also wavers, as you can see in the Leo Ray's video, at the bottom of the page.

We have just been there, but we can not wait to go back. Blessed are the locals who can enjoy whenever they want.


In the area we explored, but not tried also the following spots:


Leucate La Franqui: easy to reach by car and for parking, and with a beautiful beach, as usual very broad. Here, however, there was no one in the water. The measured wind was 37 knots on the gusts, and the sand when hitting arms and legs hurt you .... The wind was side-off, and the conditions there seemed to be too insidious, although downwind there is a rocky promontory that makes sessions less risky if you do not go too much off shore. We preferred to prioritize prudence. We asked the kitesurfing store at the spot, who directed us to Le Goulet, at the lake of Leucate. 

Leucate The Cassoules: slightly more to the east of La Franqui. Following the signs, through a side street, you will reach a large dirt parking lot behind the beach. The beach is really wide (the day of our inspection there some guys were driving kite kart!). Bringing the equipment from the parking lot to the sea seemed tiring. 

Canet en Roussillon and Saint Cyprien (along the coast to the southwest of Leucate): spots where the Tramontana blows side, and where a bit of surfable wave begins to form. The day of our inspection we saw only kiters in Canet. The spot of Saint Cyprien is situated in the north part o Saint Cyprien beach, just before entering the city (information by the local rider Frederic Bonet). These two spots must be verified and tested by me much better. I didn't have enough time yet. 

To have an idea of all the spots in the area, we point out the useful map published by Darkzi with google map.

 

Aloha, Fabio Muriano

 

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To watch the all slide gallery of our holiday in Gruissan zone, and of our sessions in this and other spots, click here 

 

Here below, a video of our session at the spot.  

 

 

Leo Ray's video, showing how the spot works with South East wind 

 

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