Around France

By the Sea, By the Beautiful Sete, France


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.

Seal for Sete a French beach holiday siteIt 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 farm are abundant and thriving.

Connoisseurs say that oysters from Sete are the best anywhere.
Sete, a French beach holiday siteThe 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.)

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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 Uzes, 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 quite 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.

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Buildings and architecture

The center city of Sete is filled with ornate buildings with carvings and pillars that testify to the early wealth of the city. Many of the downtown apartments were created from majestic homes that bordered the canals.

Is it any wonder that I find Sete such an amazing place to go for a French beach holiday?

21 replies »

      • 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!…
        Luiza

        • 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!

  1. Great description of Sete. The pictures are just great and should have had more about the Jousting or St. Louis Fete.

  2. Hi Debby.

    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?

    A

    • You’d be surprised. The markets are spotless. Not smelly at all… Except for food cooking. Happy 4th’

  3. 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

  4. 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!

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