Life is good!
Pilotis restaurant, with it’s open, windowless dining room, sits overlooking the pristine, white beach and the blue Mediterranean. Sitting in Pilotis, not only do you enjoy the gambas. calamari, and other sumptuous dishes, accompanied by the ever present, pungent, aroma of garlic, but you also have a front row seat to enjoy the beach and the sea.
Summer evenings, Phillipe, the owner, has Catalan groups performing for his guests. We seemed to be the only English speakers and brassy, robust French was the predominant language. In the French tradition, the restaurant closes between two in the afternoon and seven in the evening. Then, you’re on your own.
Parasols and lounge chairs can be rented for a half day, or day. A parasol is a definite necessity for protecting those pink, northern bodies from the relentless sun.
This secluded beach, which really has no name, in Languedoc-Roussillon lies between busy Leucate Plage, to the north and visible in the haze, with battalions of antlike creatures, massed on the beach, and Port Leucate with its jumble of hi-rise hotels and legions of vacationers to the south. If you don’t know where Pilotis is, you
Up in the Air
Life is great!
can easily miss the beach. We found it by accident after buying fresh oysters at the Grau Leucate
, and have spent many an enjoyable evening here, surrounded by the ever-present murmur of the Mediterranean’s waves as they gently caress the beach.
Most days the un crowded beach is home to people escaping the searing heat of southern France. Timid windsurfers hone their skills in the gentle breeze, while groups of effervescent teens kick footballs around or play volleyball. To escape the broiling humidity of the village we were staying in, we would drive the 20 minutes to the beach, pay for a parasol, plunk our bodies into the shade and enjoy the day.
One morning, however, the beach transformed itself. The usually gentle breeze picked up in intensity and white-capped waves came crashing onto the sand. What had once been a calm and serene haven in the sun became a frenzied hive of activity. As if by magic, and out of nowhere, hordes of wind and kite surfers with their retinue invaded the beach. Boards, sails, masts and wings were quickly assembled, tested and launched into the waiting wind. Finding a parking spot in
the tiny lot, became an exercise in patience.
First one, then two, then an army of colourful kites was flying back and forth. A battalion of windsurfers joined the fray and the two groups battled with each other in friendly competition, flying from one end of the beach to the other. The excitement of the moment was overpowering and I sat there, envious of the skill, enjoyment and freedom of the lucky flyers.
After two days of frenzied activity the wind subsided, the surfers disappeared, and the beach reverted back to its sunny, sleepy self.
Returning at the end of August, we discovered to out dismay, that Pilotis closes the last Saturday of August and reopens the following June. Swallowing our disappointment, along with the garlic infused gambas, at not being able to savour more evenings here, we were, at least, able to say our farewells to Philippe and his staff.
As they say at Pilotis, “À demain
”. “Till next year”.
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