La Grande-Motte is a commune located in the Hérault department in the Occitania region (France). Close to Montpellier, La Grande-Motte is both a seaside resort and a marina created ex nihilo in 1965 by the “Racine mission.” Today, it welcomes around 120,000 tourists per year, making it one of the ten most overcrowded cities in relation to their population.

It’s located north of the Amethyst Coast of the France’s Mediterranean resorts.

Apart from the mass tourism concentrated on the coast, Grande-Motte, bordering Aigues-Mortes and Grau-du-Roi, is also one of the gateways to the Camargue (more precisely, it is linked to this Camargue ensemble on a landscape level with the Or and Ponant ponds but also culturally).

La Grande-Motte is characterized by great architectural homogeneity, the most visible elements of which are the pyramid-shaped buildings, which obtained, on January 19, 2010, the “Heritage of the 20th century” label, awarded by the Ministry of Culture and Communication.

The resort town of La Grande-Motte was mainly built, between 1960 and 1975, on virgin beachfront dunes and is artificially irrigated to create a green environment. The architect of the project, Jean Balladur, drew inspiration from pre-Columbian pyramids, such as Teotihuacan, Mexico, and from modernist architecture in Brazil, especially the work of architect Oscar Niemeyer. Balladur developed the master plan for the seaside resort on a site of 750 hectares comprising 450 hectares of land and 300 hectares of wetland.

La Grande-Motte is an urban and coastal commune that has 8,573 inhabitants (in 2021), after having experienced a sharp increase in the population since 1968. It is part of the agglomeration “Le Pays de l’Or” and is part of the Montpellier attraction area. Its inhabitants are called the Grand-Mottois and the Grand-Mottoises.

Tourism and main attractions

The fortified tower (La Redoute), dating from the 18th century, is an old watchtower, or Signal Tower, built in the same period as that of Palavas-les-Flots (the Redoute of Ballestras), Aresquiers Frontignan or even Grau du Roi. It is part of a group of identical buildings that were fortified along the coast. By royal order of Louis XV, it was built in 1743 by the military engineer Jacques Philippe Mareschal. It served to protect the coast from the dangers linked to the War of the Austrian Succession.

Located near Grand-Travers beach, it is the oldest building built on the territory of the commune and has been listed as a historic monument since 1996.

The Town Hall Square: originally, no town hall was planned, since Grande-Motte is part of the commune of Mauguio. On October 1, 1974, Grande-Motte became a commune in its own right; the town hall was inaugurated in December 1982. Jean Balladur, architect of La Grande-Motte, originated the project and its location; Pierre Dezeuze, gave this building the face we know today. A red tiled labyrinth is drawn on the ground of the square and a fountain, a source of life, represents the backdrop of this square.

The Saint-Augustin church in La Grande-Motte: the first stone was laid on July 13, 1975. Made up of two curves, which envelop both an exterior and interior space, the church is comprised of two parables that rise to the sky to form an oval, which house two bells, including one inscribed “MH” dating from 1603 and bears the inscription “My tone calls the people.” This bell, offered by the bishopric in 1982, was stored in the chapel of the Penitents of Montagnac, and originally came from the city of Nîmes. It bears the arms of the city of Gard. In October 2014, a second bell was blessed and installed in the bell tower to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the creation of La Grande-Motte.

Temple of the Reformed Church of France in La Grande-Motte.

Petite Motte Chapel in La Grande-Motte.

The Palais des Congrès Jean-Balladur: Compared to the neighboring pyramids, Jean Balladur wanted to provide a decidedly different shape to this gathering place. It is inspired by the shape of a pebble. Inaugurated in January 1983, its ellipses, which resemble two barrels, are “wells of science” from which conference attendees drink.

Beaches and pond

Couchant Beach: Not far from the marina, it is a family beach with many nautical leisure activities.

Point Zéro Beach and Downtown: It is along the seafront promenade with restaurants, ice cream parlors and shops.

Grand Travers Beach: the wildest beach. The dunes and the pine forest located upstream are protected by the Conservatoire du Littoral. Its waters are labeled Natura 2000 site to work towards the conservation of its Posidonia meadows and its underwater life. Continuing from Petit Travers (Carnon), it is one of the most popular beaches for residents of the urban area of Montpellier.

The Etang du Ponant: This is a marine pond shared with the town of Grau-du-Roi (Gard department), offering a windsurfing spot renowned in the region for its easy access.

Shortest distances and how to get to?

From Paris: 7 hr 17 min (757 km) via A6 and A7

From Toulouse: 2 hr 30 min (260 km) via A61 and A9

From Marseille: 1 hr 54 min (144 km) via A55

From Monaco: 3 hr 38 min (328 km) via A8

From Andorra: 4 hr 20 min (386 km) via A61

From Madrid: 8 hr 46 min (965 km) via A-2

From Moscow: 32 hr (3,266 km) via E30/M1

From Belgrade: 15 hr 46 min (1,631 km) via E70

From Istanbul: 26 hr (2,580 km) via E70

From Bern: 6 hr 3 min (598 km) via A1

Main information

Area: 10,58 km2

Population: 8 573

Coordinates: 43°33′41″N 4°05′09″E

Language: French

Currency: Euro

Visa: Schengen

Time: Central European UTC +1

See also France travel guide

See also Spain travel guide

See also Pyrenees travel guide

See also Andorra travel guide

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