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Sète 24 May 2016

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A Day in Sète

Overnight, the four enormous fishing boats across the Canal left us, and we miss them. They're all named Jean Marie-Christian numbers 3, 4, 6, and 7, each a little bigger than the last. (Where's #5? I imagine that's a story.)

While Rochelle makes tea, I walk two blocks to retrieve croissants. So far I have seen at least eight bakeries here in the center of the town. As one walks in one is greeted, always, with a chirpy "Bonjour!" and "Au revoir!" when one leaves. The quality of the croissants is uniformly excellent, flaky, fresh, tasty, although there are differences from bakery to bakery, often to do with the amount of butter. Of course there are at least a dozen other appropriate choices at the boulangerie. Sometimes I submit to the temptation of a pain au chocolat, called a chocolatine here in Sète.

I'm back before the water boils. Croissants and tea, a little bit of work, and then out for our adventure of the day.

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Today, we attempted Mont St Clair, the "mountain" in the center of Sète. There's a cross and a chapel, and so for the devout it's a pilgrimage site. We walk up the roadway, a twisty narrow speedy road with little or no accommodation for pedestrians. Along the way, we see the stations of the cross. ... here's #9 now. We buy a bottle of water and sit on the tall steps and admire the view. Afterwards we light a candle in the dark little chapel.

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<p>To the east, Sète

To the east, Sète's commercial harbor and breakwater, its lateral canal, and the industrial side of the town.


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<p>To the north, the Étang...

To the north, the Étang du Thau, one of several lagoons along this sandy stretch of coast. Well lubricated by the ocean, this one produces mussels; the rectangular mussel beds are visible at the far left.

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When we're done with the view, it's down 375 step and a series of twisty steep streets back to town and our day's errands: we need an eraser (une gomme) and gloves for working our boat (des gants). Both transactions are cordial and amuse all parties.





And then it's time for the day's most serious endeavor: lunch. We find a little hidden restaurant row away from the tourist circulation. The menu looks interesting. We sit down and are immediately brought a little amuse bouche, olives, crusts, and spicy yogurt and parsley dip (below, 0) while we deliberate. Rochelle decides on the salade with roquefort and nuts (1) while I ask for the salade with duck breast (2). Abundant salads, perfectly dressed; we probably would have been fine with them alone. But no, here comes les Plats: Rochelle has an immense deep-fried Camembert oozing yummyness and sliced local ham (3) while I have the mussels in a lovely garlic persillade and frites maison (4), both of which come with little salads. Initially I had thought to have dessert as well, but I have to finish Rochelle's, and I beg off.

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<p>The chef comes out, toque blanc...

The chef comes out, toque blanc sparkling, and in lovely English asks if we have had enough, or should he prepare two more plats for us? He's joking, of course. We effuse about how good our lunch was, and how generous. He glows and retreats to his kitchen.

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