Aug. 23rd – At last, this day Amber and I would reunite with some of our old university friends in the quiet little vacation town of Sète, and get a small break from nonstop travel. We left early, because I had the keys to the apartment, but Avignon (and Montpellier) is pretty direct to get to Sète. If the town was all sleepy and relaxing, that would have made it the perfect place to be, as when my sister visited. August is the holiday month in Europe however (and most Europeans get plenty of holiday time, e.g. I get 30 days in Germany), so it was pretty bustling, for such the “little Venice of the south of France”. This was my fourth visit to Sète, so I could compare it between the off-peak (March) and peak (August) tourist seasons.
We also had arrived for the last day of the Fête de la Saint-Louis à Sète, so we missed the biggest water jousting tournaments, but saw the fireworks over the canal and Mediterranean Sea. Temporary stadium seating was generally on Quai Général Durand. Even after the official festival however, there would still be water joust demonstrations throughout the month. It was something different.
The weather had been pretty much perfect this entire time, and Sète proved to be no exception. We visited the beach or pool just about everyday — I particularly was interested in working on my tan and catching up on Kindle reading. Since I would be staying here for a handful of days, it was also a chance for me to cook a meal or two. There is an Auchan, Carrefour, Monoprix, and we could stock up on baguettes, yogurt, cheese, cured meats… the essentials of French cuisine.
Another day, we rented bikes for 4 hours (although only Will and I went as far as we could in two hours, almost Agde). Unfortunately Will suffered a small mishap on the return journey. I decided not to include that photo. It was fun besides that bit.
Sète was a good base from which to explore other towns. Unfortunately we only made it to the medieval town of Carcassonne, which I will save for the next post. I would have liked to visit the nudist colony of Cap D’Agde, Montpellier, Barcelona, Parc Naturel Régional de Camargue, etc. I had been to Barcelona and Montpellier before though, so Amber continued on to Barcelona alone to fly back to NY, while I was destined next for Dublin with a different set of friends — the last leg of my EuroTrip.
best lunch: Les Halles De Sète (Rue de Strasbourg, 34200 Sète). Sète has one of the biggest working fishing fleets in France, so for the freshest shellfish catch of the day, you go to the Central Market.
best dinner: Chez Paul (15 Rue André Portes, 34200 Sète). We were starving and had been turned away twice from other places already for not having reservations. We were served here, finally, but seated and with a bottle of wine, we were not going to complain.
best bar: Le Bistrot du Marché (1 Rue Alsace Lorraine, 34200 Sète). WiFi!
A couple panoramas, one from the highest hilltop in Sète (drive carefully), the other shot from the main strip (Quai Général Durand) of downtown Sète:
P.S. To compare, here are photos from Easter 2016, which happened to overlap with the Escale à Sète (22-28 Mar. 2016):
and August 2015, after I attended the ICCB 2015 in Montpellier:
and finally Easter 2015, the first visit:
And a couple panoramas: