In And About Sète

Trip Start Nov 14, 2011
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Trip End Feb 28, 2013


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Flag of France  , Languedoc-Roussillon,
Saturday, June 16, 2012

Mary's Impressions:
Having spent about a week in Sète getting settled into our new home, it was time to explore more of the area beyond the walks into town Jeff and I have already taken. Jeff, Margaret and I got into the car and we headed off to check out the beaches of Sète.  On a map the beach coastline is long and extends itself beyond the city limits of Sète.  Within Sète, there are three beaches within driving distance of centre ville – Plage de la Corniche, Plage de la Fontaine and Plage du Lido.  The beaches are nicely organized with a walkway and bicycle path that runs all along the beach.  The beach view is blocked from the roadway and the parking spots by tall shrubbery thus allowing beach goers some reprieve from the noise and congestion of traffic and the trains that follow this strip of land.  At the beach there were few people out sunning as the weather at the time was cool.  There were though lots of people taking advantage of bike rentals or walking along the walkway taking in the sea breezes.  We noticed that there were some very attractive restaurants offering beach chaise lounges and a place where you can grab some drinks under the shade of huge umbrellas.  This is definitely one of the stops I will be making when the weather warms up as I'm not much of a sun person and I am constantly looking for places to hang out in the shade.

From Sète we followed the coast to check out some of the other beaches close by.  Our next stops were the towns of Marseillan and Le Cap D’Agde.  The beach at Marseillan was another nice sandy beach, lots of restaurants located down the main street leading to the beach.  Le Cap D’Agde had a big marina but the town itself was a bit too built up with condo complexes leading up to the water.  Being in Sète with a nice beach coastline, it’s unlikely we’ll make it these other beaches but it was good to see the types of towns located within a 10 minute drive.

Back in Sète, we went to visit the town’s museums.  Espace Georges Brassens (dedicated to the life of Georges Brassens – one of the town’s famous artists) was a surprise in terms of my enjoyment of the visit to this museum.  When I was living in France, it was the first time I heard some of the folk songs by Georges Brassens.  I didn’t really care for them at the time but going through the museum and hearing them again, I could see where the inspiration for these songs came from growing up in a seaside town such as Sète.  As I listened to the songs, I grew to really like these folksy and simple melodies.  We walked from room to room listening to our audio guides relate the story of Georges Brassens.   There was a young French guy who was following along with his friend taking in each exhibit while singing along (quite well) the songs of Georges Brassens (obviously a fan).  Other museums we visited were Musée International des Arts Modestes (Kitsch art – some of the exhibits truly bizarre) and Musée Paul Valéry (There’s an exhibit on Chabaud and the work he completed during 1900- 1914.  His life and inspiration for his paintings had many similarities to the life and inspiration that Toulouse-Lautrec had when both artists were living in Paris – the brothels, circus, fascination of the lives of prostitutes and their clients, etc.  I enjoyed learning more about Chabaud and his art).

Sète is very well known for its water jousting competitions.  Popular since the 1600s, the boats are propelled by ten oarsmen, mostly fishermen, with an experienced boat captain at the helm.  At the bow of the boats, an oboist and a drummer who play the traditional jousting tune just as the two jousters encounter each other for combat (with a lance and shield).  The object of the game is to dunk your opponent into the water.  A band was playing in the stands to encourage the competitors and fans alike to take part in the competitive spirit of the event.  Winners of the events have their names engraved on a shield that is kept in the Musée Paul Valéry’s Jousting room.  We got to see the Juniors and Seniors battle it out (see photos below).  It was fascinating to see men going at it while trying to poke and push each other into the water – one of the jousters did get hurt when the lance hit his lower part of his body (ouch!!).  The competitions take part throughout the summer, we’ll be sure to come out and see more of the battles yet to come.
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