A quick guide to Sète, France

Sète is a small town in Southern France, about halfway between Toulouse and Marseille and a four-hour train ride from Paris. The old fishing port is often referred to as ‘the little Venice of Languedoc’ because of its networks of canals. If you’re in the area, do stop by for a couple of days and enjoy the unfussy small-town atmosphere. Sights in Sète are manageable so it’s an ideal place to wander around and of course indulge in fresh seafood.

Stay

In the heart of Sète at Le Grand Hotel. Splurge and get a guest room with one of the balconies overlooking the canal. We had a lovely spacious room with a small foyer and entrance, which is amazing for a light sleeper who easily gets disturbed by noise from a hotel hallway.

Tip: skip breakfast at the hotel and head out for a croissant and a cup of coffee in town.

Le Grand Hotel, 17 Quai Maréchal de Lattre de Tassigny, 34200 Sète, hotel website
Book room at Le Grand Hotel, Sète

Eat

Fish lovers paradise

Lunch on fish – and plenty of it. This is the place to indulge in fresh oysters from the beds of Étang de Thau. But make sure to avoid the touristy restaurants along the canal. There are several Bib Gourmands in Sète including Michelin awarded La Coquerie. Make sure to comply with the dining times of Southern France which means lunch generally between 12 and 14-14.30 and dinner generally between 19 and 21.30 (don’t show up right before closing time). 

Indulge in macarons from Francois Pralus. Hands down the best macarons we’ve ever tasted – and we have had quite a few over the years. We stumbled across the store in Séte and were blown away by their macarons. Especially their pistachio macarons are to die for. We were even more delighted to find out that they have more stores throughout France.  

Francois Pralus, 10 rue Paul Valéry, 34200 Sète, website

See

Water jousting 

Do visit Sète in August during the Saint Louis Festival when the city holds the annual water jousting tournament. The renowned Sète tradition dates back to 1666 and is a huge part of the Languedoc traditional culture. The sport is like horse jousting, but played on long wooden boats in the canal. There are two teams, one blue for the bachelors and one red team for the married men which originates from traditional times when a bachelor would challenged a married man. The boats row toward each other with jousters standing at the end of the boat trying to knock the opponent in the water while musicians play medieval tunes to help the oarsmen pull in unison. 

​The thousands of cheering spectators and festive atmosphere is quite an experience to witness. 

Mont Saint-Clair 

From the city centre either walk or take the public bus to Mont Saint-Clair and enjoy panoramic views of the city and its ports.

Sète by boat

One of the best ways to see ‘the little Venice’ of Languedoc is by boat. There are several guided boat tours that offers tours of the canals and marina – definitely go for one of the tours that takes you out to the oyster beds. That said, we also highly recommend renting your own boat and sailing out along the beaches. Pack a picnic, sail, swim and enjoy.

Sandy beaches

Rent a bike in town and head towards one of Sète’s many beaches. With over 12 kilometers of sandy, white beaches, Plage du Lazarat, Plage de la Corniche are closets to the city centre.