..Since a lot of you are still up to the ears in snow, if not snow then freezing the proverbial brass ones, I thought a little article concerning other times of the year may interest you, you know - the time of year when you all start travelling, and complaining that it's too hot......
The area down here in the South is full of surprises, for everybody...if you can't find something to do then you're a hopeless case, even for the infamous "wine-o-clock-addicts".
It's my aim to give you a few ideas over the weeks coming up to Easter ( the period when particularly British tourists suddenly find themselves in the area, start reddening in brand new swimsuits and slinky little "beach-dresses" and suffer nights of misery in their accomodation wriggling from sunburn) of some of the other things you can find here in the area of "mr le marquis", apart from the endlessly long sunny, sandy beaches ...!
Let's start off with the second largest "fishing" port in France - Sete in the Region of "Herault".
SETE, once upon a time spelt "Cette" goes back a long time in history, but the modern day city has remained true to its reputation as the "Venice of Languedoc" full of canals, full of fish, full of history...and full of tourists! Over the past two centuries, the port has developed rapidly, and is now a main departure point for the ferries to North Africa. It was developed mainly in recent history, by Italian families renowned for their fishing prowess, and what is left of the professional fishing force is still firmly in the hands of the Italian descendants.
For many years the centre of the Meditteranean Tuna fishing industry, there is still some going on but quotas are slowly killing the profession off.
Day trips for pleasure or for fishing are still available, and on dry ground, Sete is known for its gastronomical prowess, and for various other historical facts, notably as the departure point in the 40's of the good ship "EXODUS" for the promised land, made famous by the film of the same name. A plaque on one of the quaysides marks the spot.
Sete is steeped in history from Roman and early Christian church periods, and it is a vibrating modern city with everything a Tourist could need, even to the point of having one of the most beautiful "Seaman's Cemeteries" imaginable.
It is in this cemetry that the songwriter - so beloved by the French - "Georges Brassens" poet and songwriter is buried, amongst many others. The view from the hill is quite magnificent and well worth the strenous walk. Nowadays the Tourist industry is a large employment factor, and the beaches close by are full with all colours of skin, in all shades...and full of soft, clean sand.....The tourist programme is full and rich, and is very popular with the French natives as well, always a good sign for "value for money" one of the attractions being the sport of "Joutes" - a sort of nautical "knights of the round table" competition... interesting, but which I personally find very long, a competition of higher class going on all day, and that in baking heat! Of course, the locals have figured that out, and all the seats in the shaded areas of the canalside Cafés are long taken before the Tourist ever gets anywhere near them! This is the "Grand Canal" at Sete
If you take the time and decide to avoid burning on the beaches, a wander around the town is particularly rewarding...the Market Halls with the "old charm French style hygienic installations" are supportable by the view of the enormous amounts of local produce just being almost given away.
If you go to the "inland" direction, you'll almost fall into more water....this time the "Bassin de Thau" full of mussel and oyster banks. These are still there although suffering in their own style from the state of economies and the planet. The "parcs" you see in the background are the strings holding the growing mussels and oysters.
Just a mile or so from Sete, you can find the town of "Frontignan" famous for its "Muscat de Frontignan" a very sweet dessert wine, relatively unique, and installed on a large part of the "internal sandy " area just behind the beaches, there are some of the most delicious and ideal for summer light in colour Rosé wines, not expensive, grown on the sandy soil, and therefore called "Vin de Sables" - they can be treasonable - for one thinks that from the colour and taste they cannot be strong in alcohol.......! One of the most well known, particularly in Britain is "Listel", and visits can be made to all of these places.
This is just a short start to a series of articles concerning itself with the area I live in, and I would like to suggest to you a few "different" ways of seeing it over the next few weeks....I have lived in all of the places I speak of, so maybe I can give you a little tip here or there to see different things.......
I hope you enjoy them.....
iwmpop (mrlemarquis) - Vauvert, France - Février/Mars 2011
weather at Vauvert, France
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