Built in 1666 for commerce, Sète prospered through the wine trade with Algeria and Italy. Today it is France's principal Mediterannean fishing port, Sète has the advantage to have kept her auctions and fishing boats in the canal which runs through the town centre. It is along the border of this canal that you will find many restaurants where you can sample the wide range of fish and shellfish that are landed here. Sète is mentioned in song, again by one of her famous sons, Georges Brassens, and has captured the hearts of, and in turn been captured on canvas by, many painters, amongst whom we list : Pierre François, Robert Combas, Hervé and Richard Di Rosa, F.Desnoyer.
This thriving fishing and
commercial port, home of the poet Paul Valery, owes its existence to the Midi Canal. The original
choice of a seaward terminus for the canal became embroiled in politics, but in 1666 Louis XIV and
Colbert announced that a new port would be built at the eastern end of the Etang de Thau, under
Mont St.Claire with the help of tax incentives, the port grew quickly and is now the fifth largest
A pleasant city devoted to the sea, Sète is known for its colourful summer festival during which the main event is jousting, with boats replacing horses. The most rewarding way to spend time here is to drive along the seaside corniche by the Sailors’ Cemetery; which has been immortalised by Paul Valery and is adjacent to a museum with displays of the poet’s memorabilia, and up Mont St.Clair for the spectacular view. This should be followed by sampling the Setoise specialty which is, not surprisingly, fish soup.
Below : The “Canal Royale”.