map sete
Map of Sète
Source: Sete Tourist Office

Sète has roots long back in the past to 1000 BCE.  At that time, it was located on an island in a lagoon.  In Roman times, it was a haven for ships.   The island was called Saint Clair, fishing was the main industry and the town became famous for its pickled fish.


During the Middle Ages, the lagoon silted up, so Sète became a port on the marshy mainland.  For a while it was the home of those hunting down privateers for the reward money.   

Up to the 1700s the town was just a fishing village but it was  the creation of the Canal du Midi and King Louis XIV’s support for the project which resulted in the exponential growth of the area. 

The Canal du Midi

The Canal was planned to enter the sea at Sète so the port and town were planned specifically for expansion.  The construction works for the canal and the city took nearly 15 years, with bridges, aqueducts, and basins being built.  The town’s defences were strengthened. 

The Grand Canal in Sète is flanked by attractive pastel coloured houses.

Today the port thrives, being the second fishing port for France on the Mediterranean and an important commercial and trading port.

cottages on the canal
Cottages along the canal banks

fishing nets
The original fishermen's cottages on stilts


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