The "Venice of Languedoc" straddles a lagoon and the Mediterranean, with canals cutting through the heart of town. Its business is fishing, but in summertime tourists swell the 45,000 population. That's also when you might see the centuries-old sport of marine jousting, where combatants battle from boats. But mostly, Sète is a place to explore at a leisurely pace, soaking up the sun and scenery of southern France.
What We Love
The Covered Market: Open until 1 pm, Les Halles brims with luscious cheeses, produce, and fresh seafood. Sample tielle, the local pie with a spicy tomato-octopus filling, or oysters just pulled from nearby beds.
Browsing: Wander the small shops and galleries along the canals and Rue Gambetta.
Pointe Courte: Ask for directions to this out-of-time little peninsula that juts into the lagoon. Stroll among the minuscule, old fishermen's cottages, where nets are laid out to dry and well-fed cats snooze in the sun.
Best Known For
Canals: Walk along the boat-lined waterways bisecting the town, or paddle them in a kayak. You may even see fishermen selling their catch.
Belvédère of Mont Saint-Clair: Get a spectacular view of Sète, its lagoon, and the Mediterranean at this lookout, reachable by climbing a steep stairway or taking a taxi to the top. Don't miss the modern murals covering the interior of the tiny Chapel of Notre-Dame-de-la-Salette.
Beaches: On the opposite side of town from the port, a strand of beaches extends from the seaside Corniche road. Park yourself on a restaurant lounge chair or stake out a spot on the golden sand.
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Who It's Best For
Walkers: You can cover most of the sights by foot — and Mont Saint-Clair's steep ascent will work off loads of onboard carbs.
Small-Museum Buffs: There's a maritime museum, the Paul Valéry Museum (fine arts and crafts), and the thoroughly quirky MIAM (International Museum of Modest Arts).
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
You May Have to Shuttle: If your ship docks at the industrial port, you will not be allowed to exit on foot.
Gayle Keck is a San Francisco-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times.