Marseillan - a brief history

The Greeks established Marseillan, the Romans developed the port, and Marseillan was for some four centuries a major Roman base. Legions moved west from Marseillan, and later used it for rest & recuperation. Narbonne, of course became a city to rival Rome, but Marseillan continued as a trading centre for a further 2,000 years.


The Romans fortified the village, and it is those Roman engineers who established the shape that the village would retain through the centuries.

Marseillan in the Middle Ages, and today

The Roman stockades survived until Simon de Montfort led his army along the coast to begin the Crusade against the Cathars in 1209. The village was sacked and, on recovery, the old fortifications were replaced with stone walls and a moat. There were six watchtowers and four gates. Marseillan became the 'most highly fortified village in the Languedoc’.

The port was, however, always separate from the village. Some 400 metres away the port was a workplace, not a residential area. The village itself was entirely surrounded by vines. Even the land between the village and port supported vineyards.

These vines only began to retreat when large maisons de maitres were built outside the wide boulevards that were built on the filled-in moat.

Marseillan has always been a successful trading centre, but its fortune was made by the Canal du Midi, for which it became the southern entreport. For some 250 years hundreds of thousands of tons of goods passed through Marseillan port. In addition, 90% of Languedoc wines found their way to market via Marseillan.

To learn more about Marseillan read our Marseillan, Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow.

A recommended range of other sources is provided later in this web site.