6 reasons to visit Mèze: Thau’s oldest town

With a wealth of heritage, Mèze is a dynamic town with around 11,000 inhabitants. With a stronghold of shellfish farming and oyster farming, and an important sporting and cultural life, the production of shellfish has been the mainstay of the Mèze economy for almost a century. The whole of the Thau basin has built an international reputation for the quality of its seafood.

Mèze also hosts its Ecosite, an environmental research centre for lagoon protection, water purification, etc.

Mèze, active in biodiversity

Awarded by Afnor, the French Standardization Association, the port of Mèze obtained the “Port active in biodiversity” certification in early 2021 for the quality of its environmental management. The certification reflects the desire to reconcile the operation of a port with actions in favour of biodiversity.

This prestigious mark of recognition is based on the commitment of managers who act in favour of local biodiversity in the port. Installations on the quays, artificial nurseries for young fish and the protective measures taken during episodes of massive seahorse births in the port have largely contributed to this certification.

Mèze and paleontology

Mèze is the oldest town around the Thau lagoon and has roots firmly planted in palaeontology with the discovery of dinosaur egg fossils in March 1996. A considerable number of dinosaur eggs and nests were found in situ, which established that the area had been used for nearly ten million years (from 71 to 65 million years ago) by many different species of dinosaurs. A museum park, Musée des Dinosaures, focused on dinosaurs and the evolution of man was subsequently opened with models and fossil displays.

The heart of Mèze

Mèze is a lively small town. Its market square attracts many visitors on market days (Wednesdays and Sundays) and the town offers a wide choice of small, authentic local shops. The indoor market hosts a feast of fresh seafood, meats, fruit and vegetables, and cooked dishes.

Behind the market, visitors can stroll through the narrow streets to explore in the old town, especially the attractive vaulted passageways. Part of the ancient ramparts can also be seen along the lagoon.

Just off the esplanade, Chateau Girard opens its doors to art exhibitions during the summer. Built in 1660 by the Muret family on land outside the town walls, the old smallholding has become a stately home over time. Occupied by bourgeois families from Mèze for 300 years since the 17th century, the last owner ceded the castle to the town. Enjoy the gardens and free car parking.

Mèze and it’s port and beaches

Nestled between the beaches is the port of Mèze with its yachts, catamaran tours to visit the oyster beds, restaurants and a large free car park. The traditional rectangular-shaped harbour is lined with palm trees. It is both a working fishing harbour and a port for recreational boating. In summer, local artists sell their products every Thursday evening.

Two small beaches, one of which is beside the Mèze sailing club, the other besides the harbour master’s office, lets visitors enjoy a relaxed atmosphere, the fine weather and swim in salt water since the Thau lagoon communicates with the Mediterranean Sea. The water is also warmer and shallower, which will delight young and old.

Mèze and it’s chapels

Also called Notre-Dame des 7 Douleurs, the 12th-century La Chapelle des Penitents symbolizes the cultural identity of Mèze as the first traces of the occupation of Meze were found on the site. It overlooks the ramparts on the edge of the Thau lagoon, and hosts art exhibitions and organ concerts over the summer. It has been restored several times over the years. Enjoy the great view over the oyster beds and out to Sète and Balaruc.

Another of Mèze’s chapels, a little out of the way, is the Chapel of Saint-Martin-de-Caux, a quaint Romanesque style built in the 12th century on a sacred place dating from antiquity. Gallo-Roman ruins have been discovered there, including tombs and marble statues.

In the town centre beside the indoor market, Saint-Hilaire church was built in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries in a Southern Gothic style by Étienne de Cambrai on the site of an old church. Its bell tower has played a defensive role several times during the many battles that the town experienced. It has been redesigned several times and presents various buttresses.

Mèze and the Thau Festival

Created in 1991 in Mèze, originally called the “Festival de Jazz à la sauce Mézoise”, the oldest music festival in the territory became the Thau Festival in 1997. In 29 years, the festival has welcomed artists from all over the world under the theme of world music. The festival takes place in several towns around the Thau lagoon with Mèze port being the main site. Cultural actions are carried out throughout the year, in the same spirit as the Thau Festival: cultural openness, social cohesion and protection of the environment.

Getting to Mèze

Mèze is 19 km from Sète passing through Balaruc. Enjoy a day out with a walk around the port, laze on the beaches, shop in the markets, have drinks or dinner in the seafood restaurants…

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