Visit to Sete
Sete is a town with a population of just over 40,000 and situated in the Languedoc-Rouillson region in the South of France between Montpellier and Narbonne. It is an ancient town dating back to the Bronze age although I found very few monuments and churches to illustrate this. It is a busy fishing centre with canals which criss cross the town with rather picturesque bridges and waterfront houses and small shops. There is the Paul Valery Museum – the artist who was born here – which holds rare pieces of work and a couple of other museums in the town.
Travelling along the deserted D912 an incredible, long stretch of road with the beach falling into the Mediterranean Sea to the right and the Bassin de Thau – a natural salt water lake separated from the Mediterranean by a long narrow sand bar – to the left ( with the railway running parallel ), the town of Sete ever moving closer, it was impossible not to stop.
So, onto the beach, and crunching over millions and millions of different sized and shaped shells I dipped my toes in the Med.
The groyns – made from black basalt rocks ( remnants from the volcano at Cap d’Agde ) are carefully placed at regular intervals to protect this unusual coastline, beach fishermen fishing, ( the seagulls were diving in to try and catch them with skillful accuracy too ) and people enjoying the afternoon sunshine just like us.
Heading along this long stretch of road, with the beach and the Med to our right the road leads to The Quills – a new and currently empty resort by the sea – awaiting the arrival of the summer rush.
Passing over the bridge to the Canal underground car park – a good move for a hot sunny day – we descended under the canal; to be greeted with piped birdsong! Yes, I started to look for the birds too!
A gentle amble along the Quai Resistance and Quai General Durand takes you past myriads of restaurants along the quayside. Plenty of oysters and fresh fish on the menu along here.
For a real view of Sete its worth while climbing to the top of Mont Saint-Clair.
Walking from the hotel de Ville to the very highest part of Sete – Mont Saint-Clair is not for the faint hearted but worth while! ( You can of course cheat and take a car ).
It takes about 1 hour on foot to the top – taking photos of heady views as you pass sudden windows and glimpses over walls on the way up; and don’t forget to take a look behind you!
The climb is quite steep, and eventually the walker is greeted with steps which take a further 10 minutes to climb.
It is certainly worth the effort but it would be very hot to take this route in July and August. The reward? Well take a look!
The first glimpse of the top is of a white cross (Saint-Clair Cross) and a mobile telephone mast. Earthly, and heavenly communications perhaps!
The views are stunning. There are telescopes, a safe balcony with a new, neatly designed wooden rail for standing and taking photos, and plenty of seating in the round, to take in the stunning panorama of Sete.
The views of The old harbour, the Nouveau Baissin, Canal Lateral, Centre Ville, Le Quai and of course the precise and orderly oyster beds in the Etang De Thau.
Also at the top is Notre-Dame-de-la-Salette chapel, a delightful 14th Century white chapel, with pretty stained glass windows and also inside there is unusual artwork painted on the walls.
Walk down the same route ( or catch the Number 5 bus ) and stop off at the cafe by the Hotel de Ville in the square for a Perrier or ( something stronger ) – you deserve it!