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If the Étang de Thau's extensive range of summer activities for families doesn't float your boat the thermal spa and complementary care packages will sort you right out

Relaxation and wellbeing
Balaruc-les-Bains has a well-earned and well-established reputation for the therapeutic cures and preventative complementary care packages that are provided by its two big thermal spa institutes. Next month a state-of-the-art wellness centre opens here. It will be the first of its kind along the Mediterranean coast.

In contrast to the curative treatments already offered, the new centre will concentrate on relaxation and wellbeing. O’balia is a chic and extensive day spa with wellness treatments and facilities based around the warm water from the town’s natural thermal springs.

Its central, outdoor features range from a large thermal pool with geyser and hydromassage benches to an onsen, a Japanese-style pool complete with waterfall. Here, thanks to the very latest in sound technology, you can relax to underwater music. Other facilities include a caldarium steam room with chromatherapy lighting and aromatherapy effects. Meanwhile treatments extend from wraps, footbaths and facials to a range of “Les Balades” massages lasting around four hours. The complex is set in dreamy gardens overlooking the Etang de Thau.

O’balia, Allée des Sources, 34540 Balaruc-les-Bains (00 33 4 67 18 52 05; obalia.fr). General admission is €15 (€10 for children), but prices for many of the treatments include the entrance fee.

Get active: Family attractions

Sunshine and sea air are, of course, a compelling combination. Yet quite apart from these key elements, the Étang de Thau presents an extensive range of summer activities for families. With its shallow and well-protected waters, Balaruc-les-Bains is a wonderfully safe haven for children.

The Centre Nautique Manureva (00 33 4 67 48 55 63) offers windsurfing, kayaking, sailing lessons and even a sea kindergarten for children aged six to eight. There are bikes to hire from Vélo Attitude on Avenue de la Gare (00 33 6 26 34 59 12), and a mini golf course on Rue du Camping (00 33 4 67 78 91 67). Should outdoor action pall there’s a little train on which to tour the town (Le Petit Train de Balaruc: 00 33 6 09 51 79 03) and a charmingly retro sweet manufacturer to visit: La Cure Gourmande set in the town’s former railway station (00 33 4 67 80 01 72).

Meanwhile, Frontignan offers sailing lessons at its Centre Nautique Municipal (00 33 4 99 04 91 72), and scuba diving, snorkelling and underwater discovery trails with Plongée Passion (00 33 4 67 18 40 80; plongee-passion.com) as well as the Centre Nautique. The tourist office (see travel essentials left for contacts) arranges walks among flamingos and more in the salt marshes and along the coast. There are bikes to hire from Terre et Mer Aventures (00 33 4 67 18 88 18; terreetmeraventures.com) and pony rides with Ecurie Jaumard (00 33 6 14 82 28 44; ecuriejaumard.com) and Happy Parc (00 33 6 62 21 39 36).