Leucate was the first place I have ever visited abroad with a kite in my bag and still remains one of my favourites. It's a very big complex in the south of France, centered around Leucate Plage, with lots of spots good either for freestyle or waveriding. You choose where to go based on the wind direction on a particular day. There are two lakes (Etang de La Palme and Etang de Leucate) and the open sea to choose from, which gives you limitless possibilities – you can ride flat, waves, onshore, offshore, crosshore, whichever you like. The food is good, wind is present most of the time and it's one of those places where you won't find the so called "show-offs" whose abilities are not quite as big as their egos.
The easiest way to get to Leucate is by car. You will need the car constantly to move from one spot to another. Bus communication is almost non-existent and the spots are too far away from each other to walk. It's possible to fly to one of the cities nearby and then rent a car, but using your own is just cheaper. There’s also a train station very close to La Franqui, so flying and then taking a train is also an option.
There are many campsites around (a good one is in Leucate Plage), where you can stay either in a tent or in a camphouse (a big, trailer-like thingy, very modern and comfortable inside). You can also rent an apartment, for example in La Franqui (where they organize a PKRA event every year). Another cool option is your own camper – lots of places to park for free, many people do that! It's good to remember that many campsites close around 20-26 September, so if you want to visit Leucate at the end of the season, it's better to go straight to Leucate Plage where some of the campsites are still open. And the thing that surprised me and my friends the most - some campsites are closed during the night and you can’t get in, which means you need to plan your journey so that you arrive during the day, otherwise you'll have to spend the night in the car, waiting for the campsite to open the next morning!
As far as the wind is concerned, there are two types of wind there. Tramontane, an NW thermal wind from the mountains, very often gusty (BIG, 10-12knt gusts!) and pretty strong (around 27-37knt or more) and Marin, an SE wind from the sea which usually blows stronger in spring (super nice then!) and in summer is very light (you either stay at home or use a really big kite).A good thing to remember is that if Marin is not strong enough in the northern part of Leucate, it’s good to drive south to Canet, as the wind there will probably be a few knots stronger due to a local thermal wind blowing together with Marin.
There are many kitespots around, you just have to remember to check the forecast first and then decide where to go accordingly. My personal favourites include:
La Palme – shallow lake in the north, one of the favourite places of all the kitesurfers around ;) You can ride there with both Tramontane (it will be onshore) and Marin (offshore, but the lake is small and shallow so it’s not dangerous! Actually, it’s super nice and the wind is very even!).
Teleski – there is deep water and the exit from the small bay is a bit difficult, but a nice spot nevertheless. Lots of locals showing off (in a good way)! More windsurfers than kiters. Careful where you step – there are some sea urchins scattered on the bottom. A good place when Tramontane is blowing. And one more thing - there’s a cable park over there to kill time on windless days!
La Franqui – a kitespot on the sea with nice waves. A very wide beach, but you have to park your car quite far and carry all the equipment with you. They host a PKRA event every year.
Canet – a kitespot in the south, about 25-30km from Leucate Plage. Perfect place for waves when Marin is blowing!!! There’s a local thermal wind which makes the Marin stronger (careful! it’s not visible on the forecast). This spot doesn't work with Tramontane.
The first time I went to Leucate, it was not yet especially popular among people abroad. It was a few years ago and so the beaches were not crowded, but now, as it gets more and more popular, probably there might be a bit of traffic on the water in high season (July-August). You can easily kite in Leucate from April until the end of September (or sometimes in October too!), so if you want to experience more of the 'local vibe', you might want to consider going there in the low season.