The spot of Leucate - Le Goulet is located in the coastal lake of Leucate, in France, in the Languedoc-Roussillon province, the last Western province before Spain. It's a spot that offers the safe conditions of the inland lakes in the area (low water almost everywhere), and where you can try, with reasonable tranquility, the strong mistral winds that often blow on the area.
Windsurf session: Leucate - Le Goulet (France)
The spot is located in the north east of the lake of Leucate (see map below). To get there, you must take the road D327, and just at north west of the village of Leucate, you have to go down to the coastal lake. The spot is located in correspondance with a large dirt yard for campers. If you are not with a camper, though, you should not enter the camper area, as you would pay the daily rate (equal to approximately EUR 13 in June 2015). Following the signs that lead you towards the Wesh Center Crew, you turn right on the ramp that (coming from North) would lead to the D627 (which you must not take). Just after taking this junction, you can turn right again (see the indicator on the map below) in a narrow street paved, at the beginning, and dirt after few meters, that reaches the dirt and free parking, behind the Wesh Center Crew. Here you can park and assemble your rig, unless you want to bring (a trolley is useful) all the equipment up to the shore of the lake (about a hundred meters away), and assemble there. The day I tried the spot, I prepared my equipment at the parking lot, and as the wind was so strong (40 knots), I had to put myself downwind to the car, in order to avoid that the wind could make my equipment fly.
At the Wesh Center Crew windsurfing equipment can be hired, or you take lessons.
The entrance into the water is generally from the point indicated by the marker on the map (although more or less the whole stretch of coast is good to this purpose). For about fifty meters from the shore line you have to walk in the water, because the water is as high as ankle or just above, and also with small fins you are unable to beachstart.
Few words about the water quality of coastal lakes, about which I have heard many different versions. It's true that is not the water of the Maldives. It has a milk and coffe color, and at the bottom there are algae, or mud. But the water is not dirty or polluted, it's just cloudy. In short, it's all nature .... Anyway, from my point of view, the really perfect conditions (in terms of safety) that these ponds offer for windsurfing, are worth to bear some unpleasant feeling. Finally, consider that the shallow waters temperature in the coastal ponds is slightly higher (at least from late spring to early autumn), compared to that of the sea.
The spot is safe, as well as other spots in the ponds (water at chest, and only in some places you do not touch teh bottom with your feet). With the Mistral, you can ride planing for nearly one km (here the lake is not very large). You can not go to the other side, as there is a protected area for birds. An explanatory sign (see picture below) at the point of entry into the water (on the back in English!), gives you all the information you need.
Even with very strong wind, waves do not exceed half a meter (in other word, a chop), but at reached speed in these conditions, they are enough to allow some jumps, and can be used for freestyle maneuvers. The spot offers ideal conditions for freeride and slalom boards, too. In case of drift, or problems, sooner or later, the wind pushes you to shore or to an area of the pond where you touch the bottom with your feet, allowing you to rest, or go walking in the water, with your equipmen, so that, in any cause, you can put yourself to safety.
Here, however, I met quite tough conditions. I rigged my Ezzy Tiger 4.2 (the smaller sail I have), and I pulled out the Tabou 3S 86 liters. Despite small sail and board, I didn't manage to remain in full control, for all of my session, mainly for the overpowered sail, since there were, frequently, almost 40 knots on gusts. Absurd (but adrenaline) speed, and often board completely out of water. The video of the session at the spot (see below) shows the same behavior of the board for other surfers.
To read the whole report of our windsurfing holiday in Gruissan-Leucate, click here.
In the lake of Leucate, there are many other spots where you can surf. Besides the spot of Barcares Eole, subject of a specific review in the appropriate section of waterwind, many surfers enter into the water in the stretch of lake bordered by a long straight section of the road D627, just north of the overpass, located in correspondence of Port Leucate. To reach the spot, you have to take the paved road that runs along the lake, parallel to the D627 (see other indicator in the map below, Leucate spot etang - Port Leucate). Here the Mistral comes in at full speed after having blown undisturbed upon the lake surface, and pushes you to shore (so, this spot is safe). Again, because of the shallow water, you have to walk in the lake for a while, before you have enough bottom for the fin.
To have an idea of all the spots in this area, we suggest to have a look at the useful map, published by Darkzi at 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.