If you want to travel in France and you don’t really care where you go, just put your finger on a spot on the map. Then go there.
That’s pretty much how I decided to take my French beach holiday in Sete (pronounced “set”).
A little bit Venice, a little bit Riviera
Sete is a town of approximately 40,000 people who mostly earn their livelihood from the sea. Louis XIV was instrumental in establishing Sete as a prosperous shipping center during his reign. He understood the value of a seaport on the Mediterranean that could bring in the goods and valuables he desired to fill his lavish tastes.
It was not until years later that Italian immigrants helped turn the city into a fishing Mecca. Sete is now France’s biggest fishing port on the Mediterranean and provides the world’s largest tonnage of tuna, sardines, herring, and anchovies. In the inland waters, oyster and mussel farms are abundant and thriving.
Connoisseurs say that oysters from Sete are the best anywhere.
The early name for Sete was Cette (Cettoise) which means “whale”. The name of the city was changed to Sete in 1929. The name was given by sailors who, when passing the undeveloped island, thought it looked like a giant whale
Known as the Venice of France, Sete has 24 bridges that crisscross the city to carry people and vehicles from one send to the other. If you miss the last bridge, you run into the sea wall that separates the town from the Mediterranean.
Beyond the seawall are rocky cliffs where sunbathers stretch out if they choose not to head down the road to the miles of sandy beaches. (Stay tuned for a visit to the beaches.)
Every day markets
Sete is not a tourist place…yet. So the markets and stores are devoted to the general population. Food and other goods purchased in Sete are at least half the price of Uzès or nearby Montpelier.
There is an indoor city market open 6 days a week and a large outdoor market on Wednesdays. Now I’ve been to both, which are pretty different.
The indoor market is a social meeting place. Everyone in town comes to do their food shopping and to meet their friends and neighbors. For the older generations, it’s a place to meet and enjoy a glass of wine, beer, and oysters… in the morning.
Buildings and architecture
The center city of Sete is filled with ornate buildings with carvings and pillars that testify to the city’s early wealth. Many of the downtown apartments were created from majestic homes that bordered the canals.
Is it any wonder I find Sete such an amazing place to go for a French beach holiday?
Categories: Around France, Blog, Chapter 1: The First Visit, Loving Art, Loving Food, Sete
One of the most beautiful places in France…still. What a wonderful flashback. Thank you for sharing these amazing views!…
Thanks for the note, Luiza. I’m guessing you’ve been to Sete, too. What was your favorite part of your visit? There’s just so much to write and photo about!
Yes, my very first trip to France was in Sète/Occitanie. After that trip, i studied and lived for about four years in Paris… Last time i saw Sète was maybe 8 years ago…i remember seeing an Agnès Varda installation at the Centre Régional d´Art Contemporain (CRAC), my old friends´gallery, quai Rhin/Danube, the beach which i miss a lot… Many greets from Berlin to you! 🙂 And a wonderful time if you are in Sète these days!…
I haven’t visited the art gallery, but you’ve reminded me to do so. I’m on the way to Sete tomorrow. Mostly I’m excited about the food, however a beach day is set up for Sunday. Thanks for your notes, Luiza. Enjoy Berlin. Hoping to get there someday, too!
I love Sete…have not had enough time there. Here is a link to my old blog, scroll to end and see dinner at Chez Francois…great resto. http://maryjamesenprovence.blogspot.fr/search/label/Sete
Thanks for the link, Mary-James. Love your photos! I’m heading to Sete this weekend so I’ll definitely look up Chez Francois. Are you still in France?
Yes, Les Arcs s/Argens is home base. Let me know if you are ever this way….
I’ve never been in that area. I’ll be sure to look it up. Same to you in Uzes. Would love to meet.
Are you from Charlotte…..I am Greensboro…..have lots of Charlotte people coming this way in September. Send me your email….exchanges like this probably aren’t meant for a blog!!
Yes, I grew up in Charlotte, Mary-James, and I’d love to hear from you. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Great description of Sete. The pictures are just great and should have had more about the Jousting or St. Louis Fete.
Yes, St. Louis Festival is coming up, too. Here’s another post with more.https://bfblogger.com/2017/04/02/7-reasons-to-visit-sete-this-year/
Reblogged this on Barefoot Blogger and commented:
On a cold, wintry day it’s good to remember the hot, summer days in Sete, France.
Sent you an email but am wondering if you received it or our exchanges are still being intercepted!? You must be off to Spain soon?
I’m postponing my trip to Barcelona. Heading back to Uzes! Thanks for your fab comments on Airbnb!
If only I could smell through my IPad! Although, I think I did get a virtual whiff of fish! Have fun!
You’d be surprised. The markets are spotless. Not smelly at all… Except for food cooking. Happy 4th’
Wow! Now I really wish I had joined you. Gorgeous and, my G-d, the wonderful food has me salivating. Are you still gonnabe lithe when you return? ;)) Lan
Happy 4th! I’m trying to stay away from the boulangeries at least. Lots if seafood’
Debby: How are you getting around? Are you still on the borrowed car? And what does your shower look like? And where are you sleeping? The pictures are AWESOME! Thank you for taking me on vacation!
I’m so far behind with the blog I wanted to give a view of Sete first. Will fill you in more next time. Thanks for the suggestions for details. Glad you’re with me!