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Sète - once an island

The town of Sète (or Sete), which is found in the south of France on the Mediterranean coast, began life as an island and was developed as a colony by the ancient Greeks. Now, however, land has joined to land, and the island has become part of the French mainland. Sète has become established as a colourful and bustling fishing port and popular holiday resort. The boats come in with their catch of tuna, oysters and other delicious fruits of the sea and offload some of these directly to the seafront restaurants around the area, where fresh fish really does mean fresh.

Colour and light

Sète is a town full of light and Mediterranean colour. The cobalt blues of the sea and sky contrast with the colourful boats and fishing nets, and the atmosphere is vibrant and full of joie de vivre. There are miles and miles of superb sandy beaches, and lots of bars, cafés and restaurants to enjoy. Just watching the boats in the harbour is a pastime in itself, and these vary from the fishing fleet to the great yachts which take refuge in the harbour on their way to the America's Cup race.

Salt water lake

Sète lies in a highly unusual location between the salt water lake (or inland sea) of the Bassin de Thau and the Mediterranean Sea. This lake is a haven for wildlife, and it is common to see some fabulous pink flamingoes here as well as many other rare and beautiful species. The bed of the lake is an oyster farm, and unsurprisingly Sète is renowned for its gastronomy in which oysters figure strongly. The town also occupies a position at the end of the Canal du Midi, so anyone who loves to be near water can choose from lake, canal or sea to indulge their passion!

Lively town

Sète is a lively town, large enough to supply all facilities and amenities. Shopping is excellent, and there are a number of historic and interesting cultural sites to explore. The Sailors Cemetery is one such site, and it is sobering to think of the risks endured by some of these men in a life dedicated to harvesting the sea and bringing home its riches. Continuing the theme there is also an open air Theatre of the Sea, and a museum dedicated to Paul Valèry, a renowned poet who hailed from the town, which provides a fascinating look into the past life of Sète. Another museum is dedicated to the other famous poet who is a son of the town, Georges Brassens.

Sports for all?

Sète is superbly placed to offer a real variety of sports and leisure activities, and you are sure to find something to suit your tastes. Choose a leisurely cruise on the canal, a sailing lesson on the sea, a game of golf at nearby Béziers, Montpellier or Agde, or perhaps head a short way inland to the rivers and gorges for canyoning, rafting and kayaking.

Other activities on offer

If sports aren't your bag, there is lots of history to be found locally, with the Cathar trail taking in towns like Carcassonne, Béziers and Narbonne. Nature lovers can visit the marshes of the Camargue just to the east of Sète, and see the beautiful white horses which still roam wild there. Beware the Camarguaise mosquitoes though… they are the most savage in France!

How to get there

There are plenty of airports close to Sète which have direct flights from the UK. These include Montpellier, Carcassonne and Toulouse. Montpellier is served by British Airways, GB Airways and Ryanair; Carcassonne by Ryanair; and Toulouse by British Airways, bmibaby, easyJet, flybe and bmi. Rail travel is also a good option, as you can take the Eurostar from England to Paris, then change to a TGV and travel in comfort to Montpellier or Toulouse.

Property prices and availability in and around Sète

Property by the Mediterranean always comes at a price. Sète is no exception, and you will find that prices here are generally higher than in inland parts of the Hérault. It is still less expensive than Provence and the Riviera, however, so if you do want to own a little piece of the Med. it could be a good place to look.

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Sète AT A GLANCE

WHERE IS Sète?

Sète is located in the central south of France, on the Mediterranean coast. It lies in the south of the Hérault department.

Sète Property Map

IN THE REGION OF LANGUEDOC-ROUSSILLON

Languedoc-Roussillon Guide

Languedoc-Roussillon Property Map

IN THE DEPARTMENT OF HÉRAULT

Hérault Guide

  Hérault Map


Population: 39,579


Access: By air: Fly to Montpellier, Toulouse or Carcassonne with a good choice of airlines including Ryanair and easyJet. By rail: The TGV runs into Toulouse and Montpellier, so train travel is simple with just a change at Paris.


Economy: Sète is a very busy fishing port, and this is the mainstay of the economy. Tourism is also significant.


Interesting fact: Sète is famous for its Joutes Nautiques, or sea jousting tournaments! These are like the mediaeval jousting tournaments except that they are performed from traditional shaped boats rather than from horseback, with the losers taking an early bath!


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