Le Salin de l’île Saint-Martin is a special place in the town of Gruissan where even locals indulge in snapping a few photos. Located by the Mediterranean coast, the tremendous salt evaporation ponds (over 400 hectares) host the production of la fleur de sel (sea salt) and oysters. Accompanied by local wines from the Languedoc region, the fare is presented with utmost pride at the outdoor restaurant La Cambuse du Saunier, just a few feet away from the salterns. And thanks to microorganisms that thrive as salinity increases, the ponds were colored a stunning gradient of pink when we dined there this week. It makes for a beautiful contrast when there’s not a cloud in the blue sky—though you’ll definitely make out kites soaring and dipping in the background, as the windy local beaches are perfect for kitesurfing.
Like the design of the outdoor set up (utensils come wrapped up in a tea towel), so the menu is simple and limited to a few options. Start off with the plate of raw seafood: Saint Martin’s oysters, as well as shrimp, sea snails, mussels and more. For the main course, the whole sea bass (or whatever the local catch of the day is), oven-baked in coarse salt makes you wonder why fish ever needed sauce.
La Cambuse du Saunier is open from May to October for lunch and dinner, and Le Salin de l’île Saint-Martin’s site also has a shop where you can stock up on the harvested salt and other local products. Check out the slideshows for more photos.
Images by Nara Shin