Walking the dog on the way to work, the Mediterrannean way.
Between the mountains and the sea.
With the snow covered Mount Canigou reflected in the calm waters of the lagoon, and a couple of fisherman spreading their nets out to dry, even on a cold January day, the shoreline of the protected Etang de Canet – St Nazaire makes a pretty good view from the office window!
This is the Eastern end of the Pyrenees in the Languedoc Roussillon, and this shallow lagoon lies just south of Perpignan between the holiday resorts and busy marinas of Canet Plage and St Cyprien.
With over 200 species of migrant bird species it carries a “Natura 2000” classification and has become a unique bird watching site.
Grouped by the shore between the lagoon and the Mediterranean Sea are the traditional fisherman’s huts. They were built from a variety of local reeds and rushes to withstand the strong Tramontane Wind that blows up out of the blue and makes for interesting sailing at times here on the Cote Vermeille. They were home to local fisherman until the 1950s, but are now mainly used for storing fishing equipment and housing quite an extensive feline community; they know which side their bread's buttered, or rather where there fish is gutted!
The lagoons have been fished since 1285 but today there are just a dozen or so local fisherman who are allowed to fish the lake in their wooden boats using their particular type of net the “trabaque”. Lots are drawn at the beginning of the season (May to October), so that each year they have a different patch to fish. The catch is mainly eel, with the occasional migratory species such as bream or bass. The catch is sold to local restaurants in nearby Argeles sur mer or Collioure. the eels are used to make a particular type of fish soup; haven't tried that one yet!
During the holiday season you can visit the main hut which houses a permanent display retracing the history of the lagoon and learn of the diverse range of flora and fauna found amongst this rare ecosystem. There are information posts dotted around the lagoon telling you what each type of plant is. You may even find a few stray golf balls along the way as the local St Cyprien Golf Club backs onto the etang.
For us though here at Boatshedsudmed it's just a wonderful stop-off on the way to our next job at one of the lovely marinas here in the Languedoc Roussillon.