South of France: Best of Sète

Remember how I said I was going to visit the Languedoc Roussillon region of France? The whole thrifty adventure thing? Well, I knew I wanted to go to Montpellier, but not only Montpellier, but also not too far from Montpellier, and I knew I wanted it to be somewhere right on the coast.

And that is how we ended up in Sète.

When we got off the train, we were immediately charmed by Sète’s beautiful canals and started dreaming of an imaginary summer home in the charming town before we even made it to our Airbnb apartment. But at the end of our visit, we decided it wasn’t quite the right place to buy our imaginary summer property. Sète is a lovely town, and we had a great time strolling along the canal and lying on the beach and watching France play Ecuador. But to be honest with you, two days there was enough for me.

Sete boats.jpg

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Here’s an overview of what we loved most in Sète:

The beach

We took the bus to the beach for a euro each. It was 10 in the morning and already hot and humid. It bummed me out that the entire Mediterranean coastline wasn’t all beach – I had kind of envisioned that the beach would be right in front of the town because the town is right on the coast, but I guess beaches don’t work like that.

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Anyway, the beach was lovely – we sunned, we strolled, one of us swam and one of us waded just past the knees (um, that was me. It was cold!) There were a lot of people doing the same thing, but it wasn’t crowded at all. Don’t you hate when you go to the beach at the same time as the rest of the planet, and you have to wedge in between people just to sit down? (Now, we were there on a Thursday in June – if you go on a Saturday in August, I make you no promises!)

After we had thoroughly covered ourselves and everything we own in sand, it was time for a rosé break!

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Sete palm trees.jpg

Later, we walked back to town instead of taking the bus.

Sete Mediterranean fence.jpg
The beautiful view…
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Recognize anyone?
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What about these guys?
Sete Mediterraneansea.jpg
Do you see it?
Sete seagull.jpg
This is a fishing town, and so there are a lot of seagulls who squawk and wait for the catch of the day to come in.

Let’s see. What else did we like in Sète?

The view from Mont Saint Clair

If someone had asked me, “Would you like to walk several kilometers up a steep hill in 83 degree heat?” I would have given that proposition a “hell no” but somehow, that’s what we did on Friday morning in Sète. (Some of you are saying, “A few kilometers?! That’s nothing! I run seven miles uphill in 95 degree heat every day!” Um, great. Good for you.) I’m not what you’d call an athletic enthusiast. I love to walk, but hiking is not one of my hobbies. But after a loooong climb to the top (and after someone dumped a bottle of water on me) we made it, and it was beautiful.

Sete view mont saint clair 1.jpg

Sete Mont saint clair.jpg

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You can also drive up here. Just saying.

The people

You know how the French have a reputation for being less than friendly, a little closed-off? You don’t expect anyone to chat with you at the bus stop or offer to give you directions if you look lost in Paris, do you? I’m not saying the French are rude or unfriendly because that’s not the case, but small talk is simply not a cultural norm the way it is in many parts of the US.

So we were surprised at the sheer friendliness of the Sétois people. An elderly gentleman took the time to give us directions at the bus stop, and another woman who was going our way chatted with us on the bus and made sure we got off at the right stop. Even the cashier in Monoprix (a big grocery store) was friendly. When she found out I was American, she told me all about her trip to the US, how much she loved New York, how she found the American people so open-minded. She wasn’t at all in a hurry to rush us through the checkout line. To put this in perspective, usually grocery store chatter in France is limited to, “Hello. Your total is 24.62. Goodbye,” maybe with a “have a nice day” thrown in there.

Sete lighthouse.jpg

Sete sunset.jpg

Isn’t Sète beautiful? If you want to see more of this lovely town, you can check out my instagram postcard from Sète.

 

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5 thoughts on “South of France: Best of Sète

  1. Hi there! I’m loving your blog ! I’m intrigued though, you said that a couple of days in Sete was enough, and you wouldn’t want to even buy a holiday home there, why is that?

    1. Hello and thank you! I went to Sète a few years ago, so I have to dig back into my memory – it was a really lovely place and we had a great time, but it just wasn’t somewhere that I personally fell in love with. I can absolutely understand why someone would want to live or vacation there, but if I had the choice, I would visit somewhere new first. I didn’t mean to put Sète in a negative light, though, it’s a beautiful town!

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