The beautiful fishing port of Sète - Al Fresco Holidays
Despite being the largest Mediterranean fishing port in France, the quaint city of Sète loses nothing of its historical feel. Wandering through the tiny cobbled back streets or alongside the calm, boat lined canals, one might think you had gone back in time.
A short, picturesque bus journey from Les Méditerranées takes you past Sète’s sandy beaches and trendy beach bars through to the centre ville. Disembark at the train station (Gare SNCF) and follow the canals to the well-equipped tourist office, which offers tours (on foot or water). Alternatively, for a couple of well spent euros, purchase the town map and make your own way.
Elderly sailors lounge in deck chairs along the side of the Vieux Port (Old Port). Smoking and talking in incomprehensible French, their weathered faces bring the old port to life. At Midday it may seem desolate but it is still very much a working fishing port. Hand drawn signs advertise the first catch of the day, seagulls swarm around the fishing boats as they enter the harbour and in the distance large out of place Cruise liners can be seen at rest.
For those passionate about Art, Sète is the home to many different art forms. In July ‘La Theater de la Mer’ is the host to a weeklong Jazz festival. For those with an alternative eye, the graffiti decorated ‘Musee International des Arts Modestes’ is filled with experimental art exhibitions. Sète is the birth place to two especially famous poets Paul Valery and Georges Brassens, who are both celebrated artistically throughout the city.
Beyond a doubt, the panoramic view from the top of Mount Saint Claire is worth the steep climb to the top. There sits the tiny church of Notre Dame, which is a picture opportunity in itself. From the viewing plateau, gaze out over the deep blue waters of the Mediterranean and Vieux Port or retrace your footsteps through the winding streets and water ways of the ‘centre ville’. On the other side sits the Bassin de Thau. Spot the dark areas where the oysters and mussels are farmed or watch the tiny specks of the fishing and tourist boats, sail across its vast expanse.
Sea food lovers will be spoilt for choice, with every restaurant lining the streets offering fresh fish, oysters and mussels, caught that morning. After 7pm the streets throb with hungry tourists, being serenaded by street musicians as they make the difficult decision of where to dine. For those with a sweet tooth, the charming pâtisserie ‘La Biscuiterie’ offers a mouth-watering selection of madelines and macaroons. Presented in beautiful boxes, they make the perfect gift for loved ones at home, if they make it that far.
If you are lucky enough to visit Sète in July and August, the water jousting is a nautical spectacle like no other. Once, a battle between married and batchelor crews, it went on to become a competition between rival towns and finally now an event for which Sète is famous.
With all this to offer and more, you might expect Sète to be thick with tourists. However, unlike many other town and city attractions. Sète remains a relaxed and tranquil day out, for all the family to enjoy.