Narbonnaise

en Méditerranée

The Narbonnaise regional park in the south-west corner of France, on the Mediterranean coast and not far from the Pyrenees has a lot for the birder from northern Europe. The varied habitats, salt pans, lagoons, marshes, garrigue, limestone escarpments… provide for a great variety of species. There are many resident birds of great interest: Flamingo, Bonelli’s eagle, Eagle owl, Kentish plover, Slender-billed gull, Thekla lark, Blue rock thrush… and a few that only occur in this corner of the country: Pallid swift and Spotless starling. Things get even better in the breeding season with the return of Lesser kestrel, Roller, Golden Oriole, Black-eared wheatear… And as it is on the Western Mediterranean flyway, migrants are numerous and sometimes occur in large numbers: Honey Buzzard, Black Kite, Red-rumped Swallow… all in all too many to mention. But not only that, it is an exceptionally interesting area for other wildlife, reptiles (Ocellated Lizard…), butterflies (Iberian swallowtail, Spanish & Southern festoons…), orchids galore…

Still not that well known by birders and other naturalists from the north, it is very well worth a visit… or two, and the Birdwatching Narbonnaise smartphone app will help you get the most out of your stay.

A stay here can be combined with visits to other birding sites, such as the Haut Languedoc regional park, the eastern Pyrenees or even the Catalonian coast in Spain. There are also many other tourist interests such as the medieval walled city of Carcassonne and many ruins relating to the history of the Cathars.

What to see and where

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Top birding sites

Pissevaches lagoon & filtration ponds

Leucate plateau & Les Coussoules

Aude river banks and flood plain

Roc de Conilhac
autumn migration spot
(15 July to 15 November if stiff NW wind)

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Top bird species

Bonelli’s eagle

Eagle owl

Thekla lark

Blue rock thrush

Lesser kestrel

Flamingo

Download the Narbonnaise”Which birds when” list

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Other wildlife

Orchids galore + Wild tulips, Dwarf iris, and a host of other wildflowers

Butterflies: Southern white admiral,
Two-tailed pasha, Southern festoon & Spanish festoon…

Reptiles: Ocellated lizard,
4 species of grass snake

Amphibians include Marbled newt

 


Getting there

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Travel by plane

Carcassonne

Béziers

Perpignan

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Travel by train

London – Lille – Montpellier

London – Paris – Narbonne

Other train stations nearby:

Béziers

Perpignan

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Local transport

Car rental from:

Narbonne train station

Carcassonne, Béziers
& Perpignan airports

Local bus network

Bicyles for rent

Useful tips

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Plan to stay 5-7 days

London – Avignon direct

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Allow 50-60 km/day

Nearest airports:

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Combine with Haut Languedoc for a 10-12 day stay

Car rental:

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Tourist information

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Local food

AOC Wines:
La Clape
Corbières
Fitou

Bourride d’anguilles (Eel stew)

Sun drenched fruit & veg

Les Halles de Narbonne
daily covered market

A short film about birdwatching in the Narbonnaise regional park

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