Chapter 4: Life in France Part Two

Barefooting in Sete, France

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Sete, France on a weekend in the summer is more than a bar scene. It’s a multi-cultural extravaganza.

In fact, there are so many activities going on in Sete it’s hard to decide what to do first. Regardless of what you choose, you can’t go wrong. It’s going to be different from anything this Southern girl has ever seen.

Just a walk around town is an experience.

 

Canals of Sete

The city of Sete lines the canals in the “Venice of France”

 

 

Boats parked in town are almost as numerous as cars.

Boats parked in town are almost as numerous as cars.

 

 

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This was my third visit to Sete. Once on my initial visit to Uzes and surrounding areas; next on a rainy but fun trip with the “Golden Girls”; now this time to  see new friends and hang out with the Bad Girls Groove Band of London. Each time there’s been something different to see and do.

 

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A walk to the “central park” presented a chance to see a ride for kids I wish was in every town.

 

 

 

 

Children LOVE getting the exercise racing each other on their make-believe ponies.

Park "ponies" for kids in Sete

Park “ponies” for kids in Sete

 

Children actually LOVE getting the exercise racing each other on their make-believe ponies

 

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The city is a major seaport for France so Sete takes advantage of every aspect of being an international coastal town, from seafood markets to private beaches.

Oysters are so abundant in Sete, people of the town enjoy the salty, tender mollusks all times of day. These pictures were the “small” version since I was late getting to the market that day.

Sete Oysters

Sete Oysters

Yes, on weekend mornings the Setoise are enjoying oysters with a beer or wine. So get up early or you won’t get the biggest and best. They go fast.

 

 

Shell fish of all types are ready for eating on the spot, or to bag up to take away. If you’ve never tried sea snails, you must. But then, you’d better like chewy things, because they will remind you of a tasty pencil eraser.

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Steamed shrimp and sea snails

 

 

 

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Nighttime in Sete is a thrill to the senses.

The views, the music, the whole atmosphere is as exciting as to see as it is to feel and to enjoy.

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Handsome French men in   sidewalk cafes

Handsome French men in sidewalk cafes

 

Daytime is Sete is beach time and unique water sports.

Beach club in Sete

Beach club in Sete

 

If you’re going to Sete in the summer and you want to go to a private club on the beach, MAKE A RESERVATION. We didn’t and ended up with one beach chair and one umbrella.
As much as I love the French, there are a few things I just don’t get. The biggest thing is why business people don’t understand the concept of “turning over” tables, etc. For example. we went to a beach club without a reservation. We arrived at 11 o’clock in the morning and almost all the chairs were empty. Nevertheless, we were turned away because all seats were reserved. Even when we said we were only staying until 3pm and we’d be willing to move seats if people with the reservation arrived, we were denied our request.

We left and went down the beach to another “club”. There the nice hostess found us one umbrella and one chair, even though others on her beach were empty. The four of us took turns sitting on the chair and on the sand. I figure the first establishment lost 40 euros business, plus our lunch trade. The second club could have seated us all, then taken in another 30 euros for chairs and umbrellas that were still empty when we left.

Go figure.

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If you have any idea what these buckets full of sticks are, please let me know. Since I’d had enough trouble negotiating a place to sit, I didn’t want to ask the proprietor about these strange-looking things that were all around.

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Joutes nautiques in Sete

Water jousting, or “joutes nautique” has been a summer sport and spectacle in Sete since 1666 when the seaport was formally opened. I thought I had missed the season since the biggest events are held earlier in August. Sea jousting is held throughout sea towns on the Mediterranean, though Sete is world famous for its teams and tournaments.

To my surprise and delight, we literally ran into an event one afternoon where two teams from Sete were up against each other. 

 

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You would never know that the home town team would win either way by the enthusiasm the crews on the jousting boats performed. They were both elegant and fierce.

Each boat is filled with a team of ten oarsmen, one jouster and a “spare”, a helmsman and two musicians.  The “spare” is onboard for the next joust.

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One jouster on each boat stands on a raised platform, called a “la tintaine” at the stern of the boat. He stands about 10 feet (three metres) above the surface of the water.

 

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After a polite “pass by” the jousters and crew are ready for the duel.

 

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It would seem the red team stacked the deck … so to speak.

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Even so, the blue team was victorious.

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Afterwards, it’s all about teamwork and getting quickly out of the boat to have a smoke and to celebrate.

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Is it any wonder I love Sete?

 

Thanks, Nancy for being the “hostess with the mostest.” To readers who want to visit Sete, be sure to look up Nancy’s apartment on AIRBNB. She has amazing tours of Sete and the area, too. IMG_3737

 

 

Also, thanks Christina Rabaste for welcoming me back to your studio and home to view your art. I’m looking for spaces to put them all! Love!

 

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Check out these earlier posts for more information about Sete, Nancy’s tours and Christina’s art.

By the Sea, By the Beautiful Sete

Sete: Abbeys and Vineyards

Sete: Eat, Pray (to eat), Love (to eat)

Final Days in Sete: Parties, Artist Friends and Days at the Beach

“The Golden Girls” Loving France: Day 7-8 Sete, Beziers and Bouziques

The Bad Girls in Sete

For more about water jousting, here’s the Men’s Journal’s view.

 

 

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