Mention Mediterranean France and everyone automatically thinks of the Cote d’Azur and Provence. They are beautiful areas to visit but why not venture further west and sample the delights of the quaint fishing villages and the lively cities of the Languedoc.
A visit to Sete is not to be missed. Once a small fishing village on the island of Mont St Clair, it has become the definitive Languedoc fishing port for France on the Mediterranean. This warm and colourful town is known as the Venice of Languedoc with its canals and small bridges. The charm of Sete is in the canals, the sea, the streets and the restaurants. You can walk and discover fishing boats, busy with their catch, or find a restaurant to eat and watch the fishing boats go out to sea. Walk down the Saint Louis Pier and look for yachts vie for space. Here you will see some of the fastest sailboats in the world, as it is here that the French train for the America's Cup.
For families there are 12 kms of sandy beaches that stretch from Sete to Cap d’Agde. As you would expect there is much to do in and around Sete from sailing trips, water sports, micro light flights, tennis, golf, horse riding, museums, theatres and a casino if you fancy your luck at the tables.
One of the highlights of this area are the water jousts that take place in the summer, mainly in August, along the Lanquedoc coastline. However, the main one is held in Sete on the Feast of St Louis on 25 August. They are medieval style jousts with the jousters mounted on board boats. They attract large crowds of supporters and spectators and are great fun to watch. The winner becomes the local celebrity for a year. This form of “combat” dates back to the Middle Ages and is a ritualised battle between married men and youths. Dressed in white with their bare feet braced against the boards of their boats, the jousters face each other with a shield in one hand and a wooden lance in the other. Two large wooden boats are rowed towards each other by eight or ten oarsmen. They pass each other on the left and similar to horses in conventional land jousts. One jouster on each boat stands on a special raised platform at the stern of the boat about three metres above the surface of the water. In addition to the jouster and the rowers, the crew consists of a helmsman and two musicians, one playing a drum and the other an oboe. Also on board are other jousters who will take part in the next joust.
As you would expect, Sete is renowned for its abundance of restaurants offering fresh fish and seafood. Whilst it is a busy town during the day, it is delightful at night with twinkling lights and a superb atmosphere.