I bet most of you have never even heard of Sète, even though it is the 152nd biggest city in France.
Actually, it is a major Mediterranean port of Morocco France and is the biggest French fishing port in the Mediterranean, mostly for tuna, sardines and mackerel. It was hard to settle on the spelling of the city, which has also been Cette in past centuries, similar to Ceuta in Morocco Spain. I saw a number of tombs in the marine cemetery which referred to Cette rather than Sète.
I decided to spend a night near the port, because I needed to see the sea before heading inland. It didn't take me long to settle into the hotel, and then I was out on the streets.
Close to my hotel was the passenger port. Sète is the main French port to Morocco.
There was an imminent departure, with lots of Moroccan families waiting to board.
Many Moroccans bring as much back to Morocco as possible, even though it means hours of bribing the customs officials upon arrival. It's kind of easy to see which vehicles are carrying more than the needs of a family for a one month holiday in the ancestral country (I say 'ancestral country' because all of the children are French and quite a few of them are horrified by the boredom of these summer holidays.).
Frankly, some of the port shops and snack bars look like we have already arrived in Morocco.
I love Sete. We stayed at the Grand Hotel and liked it a lot.
I think your 5th photo down was taken not far from our hotel. We walked past there to the wonderful Halles, where I was introduced to the concept of selling bulk wine from large vats into your own bottle, where the fish monger chops steaks to order from huge tuna, and where they sell Italian grapes that taste so much like grapes.
Walking along the Quai on a balmy Friday evening you pass one outdoor restaurant after another, full of chatting people and the smell of seafood.
I drove up to the maritime cemetery on the cliffs, but it wasn't as good as I hoped it would be. The tombs were quite ordinary, because it is actually just the main cemetery of the city, simply set in a rocky seaside location. There were not many tombs that appeared to be specifically for sailors or fishermen.
I went back to my budget Etap Hotel to wash off some sweat before going out again in the evening. Next door to the hotel were huge tanks of olive oil, probably being imported rather than exported, although the region produces quite a bit of olive oil itself.
Quite right Kerouac - Never heard of Se`te but I'm very glad you have introduced it to me! Looks very interesting - One thing I noticed from your restaurant photos is that the meal prices displayed are on a par with some in Paris. I wonder if the quality of the food would be better though?? Really looking forward to more !
The Etap was fine but it's not in the center of action -- however, only about 3 or 4 blocks from the main downtown area, so not a problem. It had its own big, free parking lot, which is rare in a city but it was also obviously built to be super convenient for people from the North African ferries. I did notice that the city was absolutely full of British people (many alcohol enhanced conversations overheard at every café and restaurant).
I live in Sète and love it here! I run a destination management company that sources and recommends hotels, restaurants, tours and activities in the south of France. We offer a unique "gourmet walking tour" of Sète. Contact us out the next time you are in the area!
I can hardly wait to walk up the road past all the yachts and restaurants...trying to decide on the best for my buck! I know I only have one day but I am going to do the most I can. Maybe take a taxi to the cemetery where Brassens is buried..just for the hell of it, or kick back and make friends with some yachties..
You will love the port and all of those luminous signs for the restaurants. I hope to return before long, but the problem is that there are so many places where I hope to return, not only in France but around the world.
If it's a warm evening, I recommend the boat trip through the harbour. If the weather is not good, maybe not.