Located just three hours away from Barcelona by train, Sète remains almost hidden whereas it's one of the cities that you can discover this summer. Its privileged location, its streets full of life, or the excellent local gastronomy, with lots of seafood, that fishermen bring to the port every afternoon make this small city one that you must visit this summer.
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Sète is not a city that will charm you at first sight, and the inhabitants themselves define it as chaotic and disorderly. But, as you walk down its streets, discover its channels or try some of its most characteristic dishes in one of the restaurants next to the local port, you'll come to think that if it wasn't like that, it wouldn't have that unique and special charm.
The statue in honour of the jousters and a Tielle Sétoise, the local dish par excellence
As soon as we arrive at Gare de Sète, we can already cross one of the many channels that cross the city, joining the Mediterranean with the Étang de Thau, an internal lagoon of 75 km2 that has become the main oyster and mussel breeding area in the region.
The local gastronomy is one of the main features of Sète. Throughout the city, and especially in the port area, we can find a good number of restaurants. These will allow us to enjoy, for a modest price, typical local dishes such as oysters, mussels marinières (accompanied with the essential French fries), or Rouille de Seiche à la Sétoise—a delicious sepia stew that is usually accompanied by boiled white rice.
But of course, if we want to try Sète's most famous dish, we can't leave the city without trying the Tielle Sétoise—a pie stuffed with octopus that can be eaten cold or hot, and that comes from a time when the city was occupied by the Italians.
The incredible views of Sète—the Mediterranean sea and the Étang de Thau from the top of Mont Saint-Clair
That banquet will help us gather strength to carry out a plan that is perfect if we want to fall even more in love with Sète: reaching the top of Mont Saint-Clair. With a height of 183 meters above sea level, it is the highest point in the city, and it allows us to enjoy unique views of Sète itself, as well as of the Mediterranean Sea and of the Étang de Thau. We can climb to the top by bus or on foot, thanks to stairs that meander through the mountain and allow us to enjoy a unique experience, despite being tired, with a landscape that uncovers itself as we go up the more than 300 steps that lead to this place—which was once the refuge of the famous pirate Barbarossa.
The Royal Channel, which every year is the scenario for the nautical jousts of the Saint Louis Festivities
Coming back to the city, after having walked for a while to enjoy the views from the top of Mont Saint-Clair, we have two "motorized" options to visit some of the most interesting places in Sète. For starters, there is the famous tourist train, which will allow us to travel, in about 40 minutes, through the city center, the port, or the breakwater of Saint Louis—its route begins just below the Tourist Office.
But of course, if we prefer, we can choose one of the sea excursions to discover Sète from what is its most characteristic place—the canals that run through the city. We can travel through the Étang de Thau to observe the oyster farms; the Point Courte district, one of the most typical and picturesque in the city; or visit the places where Sète's most famous festival takes place, which attracts thousands of visitors every year. We mean, of course, the Saint Louis Festivites, which is celebrated around August the 25th and which revolves around the jousts that take place in the Royal Channel all week long since 1666.
Sète's port and the Lighthouse of Saint Louis are two of the places that you must visit when you're in the city
If we are beach lovers, there are more than 12 kilometers of shore in Sète. Thanks to its particular distribution, with the port in the heart of the city, and its characteristic "Lido" (the portion of land that separates the Étang de Thau from the Mediterranean Sea), we can find unique beaches of fine sand, which are also accessible by bicycle thanks to the lane that comes from the city.
We cannot leave Sète without visiting the famous Théâtre de la Mer, an ancient fortress turned into a theatre which, during the high season, is the scenario of several shows; or the Saint Louis Lighthouse, located at the end of the quay of the same name, which will provide you with a unique view of the city, with Mont Saint-Clair in the background.
rn home by train, enjoying the views of the Étang de Thau, we think about the incredible discovery that this small coastal town of southern France has been, with a unique identity that comes from its cuisine, the warmth of its inhabitants, and its spectacular scenery. Now, it's your turn: book your tickets to Sète now, travel on the high-speed trains of Renfe-SNCF in Cooperation, and discover this hidden treasure of the Mediterranean.