Étang de Thau. The European capital of oysters.
Every food lover loves oysters, or at least it should. If it is true that “in each oyster there is the true taste of the sea” we should all try this delicacy. It is believed that oysters are an expensive and eliatory product, often it is, but there is a place in South France where these delicacies are grown and can be tasted at affordable prices for everyone. we are talking about the Étang de Thau, the Thau Basin.
We are talking about a huge lagoon, unknown to most, the largest lagoon on the French Mediterranean coast. It extends from the beautiful town of Sete to the seaside village of Marseillan, home of the Noilly Prat. A beautiful area, with a wild nature, just south of Montpellier, the lagoon is divided by the blue waters of the Mediterranean by a very thin strip of sand cultivated with vineyards.
These days, nearly half of France’s oyster production comes from the Etang de Thau lagoon. This deep-cupped variety, the so-called Bouzigues oyster, named after one of the smallest and most attractive villages in the Thau basin, is in fact produced and enjoyed in all the towns and villages around the edge of the lagoon where oyster farming is practised, such as Mèze and Marseillan.
With their marbled, jagged shells and salt-water freshness with nutty highlights, ‘Bouzigues oysters’ are a treat for the tastebuds. Normally eaten raw, they can also be served ‘au gratin’, with garlic and parsley butter, or in a white wine and shallot sauce.
The whole coast of the lagoon is marked by piles overlooking the water of the sailors who raise oysters in these waters. Punctuating a grandiose scenario made of water, wild vegetation, fishing boats and sun reflecting on the calm blue waters.
These stilt houses for fishermen have been largely converted into small bistros in which to enjoy the oysters freshly harvested from the lagoon, at fair prices and with a unique goodness. If you visit France take some time to discover this corner of France.
Here is a list of places to taste the queen of lagoon, the Bouzigues oyster, better if accompanied with a glass of Picpoul de Pinet, the pleasant local white wine
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