Sète, pronounced set, is a densely populated seaside community with 42,000 inhabitants living on 25 kilometres squared on a peninsula. In comparison Narbonne has a population of 52,000 on 127 kilometers squared.
The views from atop of Mont St. Claire are drop dead gorgeous with the blue Mediterranean water dipping over the horizon, white sandy-beach shorelines that run twelve kilometers towards Marseillan Plage, the water path that leads to the sea of Bassin de Thau, and lastly several channels that link the Etang de Thau to the Mediterranean Sea. You can stare at this view for hours, there is so much to see from the look out.
The Bassin de Thau is an enclosed saltwater lake used for oyster and mussel farming. Speckled with square dark patches, farmers grow their fruit of the sea in the ideal warm waters of the Eurafrican Mediterranean.
Canal boats rest just before the salt-water pond to take tourists up and down the Canal du Midi toward the Atlantic Ocean. Along the pier are a number of privately owned yachts, sailboats, right down to the smallest local fisherman’s row boat. Makes for pretty picture opportunities.
Sète is also a large seaport filled with enormous fishing vessels, import export freight crafts, and cruise ships. There are smaller private docks throughout Sète for mooring.
Sète is expensive to buy real estate. Compared to Capestang where you can buy a four bedroom home for around 250,000€ the same money in Sete buys you a small two bedroom apartment with a view. Some say the view is worth living here, and many people live in Sete and work in Montpellier, Agde or one of the many communities just outside the beautiful sea port.
One thing I did notice about Sète while visiting at the end of December, is the streets were full of tourists, making this a year round travel destination. French love to travel throughout their own country, and with little villages and communities like Sète, it is no wonder why.
In the summer they have beaches, markets, their famous jousting competition and festivals. Known as the Venice of Southern France, the waterways are magnificent and draws people here from all over the world to experience the culture and art. The fish auction is also here, and many fine French dining establishments come here to buy the best seafood in France.
Many artists come to southern France to experience the light. It is something that people throughout the ages talk about from famous painters to poets and is indescribable.
We first visited the panaramic views of Mont St. Clair and tried to make out the different waterways. Then we stopped in at a local cemetery nestled on the hillside for some pretty shots of the tombstones peeking at the waters below. Alfonz and I love old cemeteries and visit them with the kids all the time. Some of the family plots date back to the 1600.
The sky was bright blue in the crisp winter sun. Daniel and Angelina ran ahead reading the graves, looking at the photos of people long gone. Daniel likes to find soldiers, and asks questions about war. Angelina found a flower on the path and placed in on a grave without any flowers. Strolling through row after row of old graves, soon we tired and decided to search for refreshments and an afternoon snack.
We drove to the town centre, and quickly realised that there was no parking anywhere and back tracked towards the pier to park and walk down the hill to the middle square.The kids grabbed their scooters from the van and we made our way to a local hangout for drinks and bought some sandwiches from an organic bakery on the main road.
Walking a big lap to see the canal, a few side streets and ships up close; we returned to the sun warmed van parked on the pier to make our drive home. The sun slipping over the horizon and set a deep red. Fiery skies greeted the road, and the warm glow before dark held until we reached home.
HISTORY BREAK: Sète was created in 1660 when Paul Rocket built the Canal du Midi and looked for a suitable outlet to the Mediterranean Sea to export Languedoc goods.
Sète is simply stunning. Visit their Tourist Office for bus and boat tours. Next time we plan an early departure from Capestang to spend the whole day exploring Sète and take advantage of the long strip of walking/cycling paths along the beach.