The view through the venetian blinds at the Musée Paul Valéry shows several of the most important elements of life in this fascinating town. The poet Paul Valéry was born in Sète and is buried in the sailors’ cemetery in the foreground here. The cemetière marin, which must be one of the most beautiful in France, looks out to the Mediterranean and the fishing boats which pass as they enter and leave the port. This is the biggest Mediterranean fishing port in France. The ferry approaching today, on one of the regular crossings from Tangiers, is another of the pieces of the jigsaw that is Sète, a town with a large Arab population.
I liked the way the reflections of the water seemed to mimic the Arab script on this fishing boat in the port. The film Le Grain et le Mulet (The Secret of the Grain in its English-language version) gives a wonderful and rather sad picture of the life of the people of the town whose family origins are in North Africa.
Some of the smaller fishing boats in the port today.
One of the reasons for our trips to the sea and the holiday atmosphere of this week for us has been our son’s visit and the holiday feel to the day continued with an excellent lunch at La Marine, one of the many restaurants beside the port. We ate a typically Sètois menu:
Gratin of scallops for our first course.
And moules farcies à la sètoise (mussels stuffed with minced pork, ham and herbs and cooked in tomato sauce).
Because we’d just seen an exhibition of work by cubist artist Juan Gris at the Musée Paul Valéry, I seemed to see cubist-style distortions everywhere I looked, including this view of my son’s plate through his wine and water glasses: