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Sète 22 May 2016


1169 : 1091

Early to bed, early up and out of our fisherman's shanty by 9am. Clouds and wind today, a good day for relocating we hope. Over the hill from Collioure and out onto the broad plain, grapevines as far as we can see. I miss the first turn off for the A9: no loss. We continue at a good speed on the D900 around Perpignan and across the plain toward Narbonne.


1170 : 1086

I'm busy not being run over by speeding French drivers -- they love to bunch up and tailgate, but I can usually get in a hole between clumps. Rochelle is trying to get a decent photo of the snow on top of the Pyrénées, and at last, on an overpass, succeeds. We miss another access to the A9 and I'm still happy. The main thoroughfares skirt towns and are well marked, with few accesses and fewer crossings, so we zip along at 110 km/h (about 68mph.) Noteworthy: NO big cars. Even the SUVs are little big cars!

1171 : 1082

Outside Narbonne the traffic clumps up, another access to the A9 presents itself, and I climb on board. It's three lanes each way, travelling at 130 km/h, about 80mph, a little faster than either I or our little Yaris is comfortable going. There's a wicked crosswind, but nobody seems to mind. I have the sense that a lot of the traffic around me is determined to reach Paris before dark. Note the windspinners barely visible on the horizon.

<p>Northeast of Narbonne on the A9</p>

Northeast of Narbonne on the A9

1172 : 1072

We cross the Canal du Midi just past Beziers, climb off the A9 and pay our 8€40 fare, and then secondary roads lead us to Séte, which is actually an island. We can tell this is a maritime city: canals and boats everywhere, huge shipbuilding gantries on the waterfront, a super-liner being fitted out, enormous fishing trawlers. It's amazing there are any fish left in the Med!)

From the time we drive past the sign that delimits the town, we see no parking places. Zero. None. Obviously, one inherits a parking place. We navigated our way to the center of the city, found the street where our secure parking is by dead reckoning and sharp vision by Rochelle. (I was still trying not to run over, or be run over.) In a car, Sunday Séte is a driver's nightmare.

We are finally in the right place at the right time. A tiny car leaves, and I somehow manage to squeeze our bigger little car into his spot. Phew! As expected, a two hour drive and 108 miles ...and then (surprise!) 45 minutes to find a parking place.

1173 : 1070

After rejecting several restaurants as inauthentic or unappetizing, we find by chance what our host later identifies as Séte's best. They have a table for us. When we sit down, Rochelle is a little frazzled by the traffic.

They serve us fish soup, a nice little salad, and then, the pièce de resistance, a gorgeous sole, head and tail on. Our server ritualistically debones and serves us. Oh, my. (Rochelle settles down.)

We are surrounded by "our demographic," only they are all Sétois and speak French. Most of them are having spectacular platters of shellfish. Later I indulge in a mousse au chocolat. The gentleman next to me gets a dessert with a little umbrella: two boules of lemon gelato and a jigger of limoncello.

1174 : 1061

We connect with our "superhost" Patrick, who shows us our garage and then helps us to our apartment right on the Canal Royale. He proudly shows us the balcony and says, "Just like the picture, hien?" From where Rochelle stands, the view toward the Med looks like this:

 

 

Patrick is courtly, gentle, eager to understand and please. He works for the city administration, lives nearby. We are the third US guests he has had this month. He leaves us with keys to the front door, the inner door, the mailbox, the inner garage, and a remote for the outer garage door.

We settle in, are happy to have a bathroom on (almost) the same floor as the bedroom. Rochelle does a laundry while I post these words. 

 

We are based here for five nights, then on to the main event, the Canal du Midi.

<p>Rochelle on our balcony</p>

Rochelle on our balcony

1175 : 1022

Right next door to us – next balcony – there's a Turkish restaurant named Ephese. It was raining, so we were glad for the very short walk, and went in for dinner. A family run place, with the family eating at the table beside us. Delicious moussaka, and, at Rochelle's request, baklava with pistachio ice cream for dessert. Delicious. At the end of the meal, the sun dropped under the clouds and illuminated the buildings across the canal ...and made a lovely rainbow.

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