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Barefooting in Sete, France

A summer weekend in Sete is more than a bar scene. It’s a multi-cultural extravaganza.

In fact, there are so many activities during a summer weekend in Sete that it’s hard to decide what to do first. Regardless of what you choose, you can’t go wrong. It will be different from anything this Southern girl has ever seen. Just a walk around town is an experience.

A walk to the “central park” presented a chance to see a ride for kids I wish was in every town. Children LOVE getting the exercise racing each other on their make-believe ponies.



Park “ponies” for kids in Sete

Summer weekend in Sete

The city is a major seaport for France, so Sete takes advantage of every aspect of being an international coastal town, from seafood markets to private beaches.

Oysters are so abundant in Sete that the townspeople enjoy the salty, tender mollusks at all times of the day. These pictures were the “small” version. On weekend mornings, Sete’s people gather in the city market (Halles), enjoying oysters and beer. Shellfish of all types are ready to eat on the spot or bag up to take away. If you’ve never tried sea snails, you must. But then, you’d better like chewy things because they remind you of a tasty pencil eraser.


Nighttime in Sete is a thrill to the senses. The views, music, and atmosphere are exciting to see, feel, and enjoy.

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Daytime in Sete is beach time.

summer weekend in Sete
Beach Club in Sete


If you’re going to Sete in the summer and want to go to a private club on the beach, MAKE A RESERVATION. We didn’t and ended up with one beach chair and one umbrella.
As much as I love the French, there are a few things I just don’t get. The biggest thing is why business people don’t understand “turning over” tables, etc. For example, we went to a beach club without a reservation. We arrived at 11 o’clock in the morning, and almost all the chairs were empty. Nevertheless, we left because all the seats were reserved. Even when we said we were only staying until 3pm and we’d be willing to move chairs if people with the reservation arrived, we were denied our request.

We left and went down the beach to another “club.” The friendly hostess found us one umbrella and one chair, even though others on her beach were empty. The four of us sat on the chair and on the sand. The first establishment lost 40 euros in business, plus our lunch trade. The second club could have seated us all, then taken in another 30 euros for chairs and umbrellas that were still empty when we left.

Go figure.

summer weekend in Sete

Summer weekend in Sete

Joutes Nautiques in Sete

Water jousting, or “joutes nautique,” has been a summer sport and spectacle in Sete since 1666 the seaport was formally opened. I thought I had missed the season since the most prominent events are held earlier in August. Sea jousting is held throughout sea towns on the Mediterranean, though Sete is world-famous for its teams and tournaments.

To my surprise and delight, we ran into an event one afternoon where two teams from Sete were up against each other. 


summer weekend in Sete


You would never know that the hometown team would win either way by the enthusiasm of the crews on the jousting boats. They were both elegant and fierce.

Each boat is filled with a team of ten oarsmen, one jouster and a “spare,” a helmsman, and two musicians. The “spare” is on board for the next joust.

summer weekend in Sete


One jouster on each boat stands on a raised platform, called a “la tintaine” at the stern of the boat. The jouster stands about 10 feet (three meters) above the water’s surface.

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Be prepared to fall in love with France, all over again!


summer weekend in Sete


After a polite “pass by,” the jousters and crew are ready for the duel.


summer weekend in Sete


It would seem the red team stacked the deck … so to speak.

summer weekend in Sete


Even so, the blue team was victorious.

summer weekend in Sete


summer weekend in Sete


Afterward, it’s all about teamwork and getting out of the boat quickly to have a smoke and celebrate.

summer weekend in Sete

Is it any wonder I love Sete?


Thanks, Nancy, for being the “hostess with the mostest.” To readers who want to visit Sete, look up Nancy’s destination tour company, Absolutely Southern France. She has fantastic tours of Sete and the area.

Also, thanks to Christina Rabaste for welcoming me back to your studio and home to view your art. I’m looking for spaces to put them all in! Love!


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Sete, France on a weekend


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