Sete is an attractive maritime town in Southern France. Being a seaside and port town, this Mediterranean city is proud of its strongly cultural identity, cuisine, practices and even dialect. In fact, it is this very town that is home to famous artists like Paul Valéry and Jean Vilar. A truly fascinating town on the French Mediterranean coast, it’s not only a serious working port, it is also a town which tourists need to explore to appreciate. Sete encircles a lone hill called the Mont St-Clair. Apart from this, the town is surrounded by water bodies; the sea in front, the Thau lagoon at the back of it and between the sea and the lagoon, a network of lagoons.
If Sete sounds exciting already, then read on to find out 10 interesting things you can engage in when visiting the town.
1. Espace Georges Brassens
As Sete is a town known to be home to many famous artists, monuments in their honor have been constructed to speak volumes of their lives and work. One such artist is poet Georges Brassens and his museum, Espace Georges Brassens is one place visitors should visit when in Sete.
It is a highly interactive museum with the use of high technology picture and sound techniques. Upon admission, visitors are handed stereophonic headphones, through which they will be guided through the museum by the voice of Georges Brassens. Visitors will then get insight into the life and work of this famous poet that the town of Sete celebrates. As visitors reach the end of the tour, they will enter a video room which will feature a series of rare films and recitals by the poet.
Espace Georges Brassens
Address: 67, Bd Camille Blanc 34 200 Sete, France
Opening Hours: Winter: 10 am to 12 pm and 2 pm to 6 pm (Closed on Mondays), Summer (June to September): 10 am to 6 pm
Website: Espace Georges Brassens
2. International Museum of Modest Art
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
If you think you are one who cannot handle more than 1 museum, be assured that missing out on this gem of a museum is not worth it. This International Museum of Modest Art is a museum like none other. This is one place where imagination plays a huge role. Visitors here will be amazed at how the most ordinary items are transformed into creative entities one would never have imagined. Only the wildest of imaginations would be able to create such work of art.
Opened on 10th November 2000, the museum is home to hordes of collections like Bonux brand gifts, lucky dips, barbie dolls and other trinkets. Anything that is junk is up-cycled and converted into modern art. A fascinating place to see how people have made use of their imagination, it will enthrall both the young and the old.
International Museum of Modest Art
Address: 23 Quai Maréchal de Lattre de Tassigny, 34200 Sete, France
Opening Hours: 9:30 am - 7 pm
Website: International Museum of Modest Art
3. Lighthouse of Mole Saint-Louis
The lighthouse of Mole Saint-Louis is a structure built back in 1680 and can be found standing tall at the end of the Saint Louis jetty. What makes this lighthouse even more significant is that the jetty on which the lighthouse stands was the first ever structure built in the city when it was founded in 1666. It is still a functioning lighthouse which continues today to use a red light to signal the entrance of the channel. It is now open to the general public and they can climb the lighthouse to enjoy a panoramic view of the working port, harbor and the old town. The lighthouse is very well preserved and unpretentious.
Lighthouse of Mole Saint-Louis
Address: Mole Saint Louis, 34200 Sete, France
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4. Pay tribute to poet Paul Valery
Take a journey through famous poet Paul Valery’s life along with his diverse collection of works. At Musee Paul Valery, there is a collection of more than 700 paintings and drawings for enthusiasts to see and appreciate. Since Sete was Paul Valery’s birthplace, the city has had a great influence in his work. As such, if you are interested in retracing Sete’s history, this museum is definitely worth a visit.
Musee Paul Valery
Address: 148, Rue François Desnoyer, 34200 Sete, France
Website: Musee Paul Valery
5. Ascend Mont St-Clair
If you are looking for a spot to have a stunning view of the city of Sete, then the first place to experience this would be atop the 183 m (600 feet) tall Mont St-Clair. The peak of Mont St-Clair is known to be the highest point in Sete. The hike up there is definitely not for the faint-hearted. Nonetheless, the ascend is worth the time and effort; it takes approximately an hour by foot.
Do not forget to take pictures on your way up as there are superb photo opportunities at every stage of the climb. Once you have reached the top of the mountain, make use of the telescopes available to get a close look at the city around you. Also, if you have weary feet, there is ample seating from where you can take in the panoramic view of the city.
Opening days: Open all days
Website: Mont Saint Clair
6. Soak in the atmosphere at Theatre de la Mer-Jean Villar
When in Sete, what better thing is there to do than to enjoy a concert at Theatre de la Mer-Jean Villar. The open-air theatre is dedicated to Jean-Villar, a famous French actor and theatre director. Originally an old fort, several music festivals now take place in this beautiful, atmospheric theatre. The best time to catch a concert in this theatre is during the summer when several music programs are lined up. The setting is simply stunning as it overlooks the calm Mediterranean water.
Theatre de la Mer-Jean Villar
Address: Promenade Maréchal Leclerc, 34200 Sete, France
Website: Theatre de la Mer-Jean Villar
7. Water jousting in Canal Royal
The water jousting festival in Sete is perhaps one of the most unusual sports in the world. This festival dates back to the 12th-century and has continued to date as one of the fervently followed cultural practice in Languedoc. Held in Canal Royal, water jousting involves two huge rowing boats and a raised ladder positioned at one end. Atop the ladder are 4 jousters dressed in white while on the boats 10 rowers try to propel their boats towards each other. When the boats are close to each other, the jousters try to dislodge the other team’s jousters from their platform and push them into the water. The winner is the team that manages to push all the jousters from the other team into the water.
This festival usually takes place in the Canal Royal from April to September.
Water jousting in Canal Royal
Website: Canal Royal
8. Hit the beaches
If you are done with the cultural experiences in Sete, then head down to the beautiful beaches to unwind and rest. Sete is lined with fine, sandy beaches which will provide you with a soothing beach experience. You can sun bathe, play beach games with your friends or just frolic around in the water. The beach strip is well-equipped with beach bars and high quality restaurants.
The 2 beaches that are close to the centre of Sete are Lazaret and Corniche. If you go further along the strip, you will get to Villeroy where you will find many beach bars, and the strip ends at Marseillan-Plage. After that, head to any restaurant to enjoy fresh seafood to complete the beach escapade.
Website: Sete Beaches - Lazaret & Corniche
9. Set out on a boat
Another activity that one can do is to get on a boat tour to explore the city and beyond through the waterway. Embark on a boat trip that sails along the coast from the harbor at Sete and see nearby islands which are rich in marine life. An unusual excursion that can be embarked on is Sete, towards Etang de Thau. This would be a glass-bottomed boat where you will get the chance to see the seabed, which is home for mussels and oysters.
Otherwise, disembark in Etang de Thau and explore the harbor town of Marseillan and the villages in Balaruc-le-Vieux and Meze. Alternatively, you can go boating in Canal Royal and watch the boats travel under low arches of the bridges.
Boat trips from Sete
Operating Times: All year round
Website: Sete boat trips
10. Gastronomy at its best
Photo is only for illustrative purposes
The unassuming port of Sete offers one a sensuous taste of the French Mediterranean. Fresh seafood is a given in this town given its coastal location. Bearing a touch of the Italian influence, fish and shellfish are in abundance in the city. A favorite hangout is by the canal side, to get the full view of the picturesque canals.
Sete specialties include the stuffed squid and mussels, monkfish bourride and other shellfish coming from the famous Etang de Thau lagoon. Others include ‘tielles’ which are mini pies stuffed with octopus. Enjoy the local dishes made of local produce and get going on a gastronomic getaway.
Restaurants in Sete
Website: Restaurants in Sete
Planning a trip to Sete?
Looking for the perfect break in France? Then you are at the right place. Sete has a variety of to-do things that will keep you mesmerized. For an unfiltered, unpretentious experience of the French Mediterranean, you have to add Sete into your itinerary.
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