When moving abroad, people often ask me how I made friends. It’s a valid question, as making friends during adulthood is already hard enough. Add in a new culture and language, and you’ve got your work cut out for yourself. I made most of my friends through my faith community, but I’ve also made friends through connecting with other expats. It often goes like this: you make one friend, hang out with their friends, grow your circle and repeat. I’m extremely grateful to have met my American friend Kelly. I au paired during my time in France, and she was one of the little girl’s former au pairs. After her au pair stint, she moved to a small town in France and we’ve become good friends. But since we don’t live in the same city, we have to get creative. We like to find new towns to explore in between us, and that’s how we landed on Béziers and Sète. From where to eat and what to do, here’s how to spend a day in Béziers and Sète.
About Béziers and Sète
So you’ve probably never heard of these two towns unless you’ve traveled a bit in France. They’re not the biggest cities, but Kelly and I love to discover all the corners of France. Both of these towns have train stations, which make them easily accessible. Plus, they’re located in southern France with Sète straddling the Mediterranean and the Étang de Thau. Fun fact: Béziers is one of the oldest towns in France with history dating back to 600 B.C.
After our day trip to Montpellier several months prior, we wanted to explore some new towns. During our girls’ weekend, we spent the first day in Béziers, slept in an Airbnb in Béziers and left for Sète the next morning. In retrospect, we could’ve done both in the same day and probably should’ve started with Sète in the morning and then Béziers late afternoon and evening.
Here’s why: even in the middle of June, on a Saturday, the town of Béziers was unbelievably calm during the day. We mentioned something to the lady at the ice cream shop about how quiet it was. She enlightened us: everyone goes to the beach during the day in nearby towns and comes back in the evening. She was right. Once the sun starting going down, more life oozed into Béziers.
Start your day in Sète
My best advice is to start your day in Sète and head to the beach. Combining these two towns works wonderfully since they’re so close yet still offer different experiences. Once you’ve enjoyed your late morning and early afternoon at the beach, you can meander in downtown Sète.
Soak up the sun at La Ola
Lying out on a beach chair all day? Sign me up! This was the perfect way to spend the day. We discovered La Ola, a beach restaurant where you can rent beach chairs for a half or full day. It’s most delightful since the waiters come right to your chair where you can order fruity cocktails, apéro and meals. Kelly and I spent the better part of the afternoon just lying in the sun, having girl talk and enjoying the sea. I’ve been to beach restaurants like this in St. Tropez, which cost an arm and a leg. But we were both surprised that we walked paying less than 50 euros per person for a beach chair rental, drink, meal and dessert. Honestly, this find was my favorite part of the weekend.
Walk around downtown Sète
Most of the town of Sète revolves around the beach, but it also has a small downtown. You can stroll the port and wander into its shops to find a postcard. During the weekend we visited, they were having a boat jousting tournament (les joutes nautiques) on the port. Basically, there are two boats and the jousters try to “fight” each other off so that they fall into the port. It is quite the sight to see! You can take a look at the town’s tourism website to see if they will have any boat jousting tournaments during your visit.
Take the train from Sète to Béziers
The town of Sète is a great place to relax at the beach and meander about its downtown. But perhaps you’re looking for a bit more to explore. Lucky for you, the town of Béziers is only a 25-minute train ride away with multiple daily departures.
Head up to Cathédrale Saint-Nazaire
When in Béziers, you must head up to see the views inside and from the Cathédrale Saint-Nazaire, which dates back to the 1200s. Be sure to take a peek in its beautiful courtyard with its arched stone. And enjoy getting all those steps in!
Dine at Pica Pica
Oh my, oh my! We had the most splendid evening eating tapas at the Michelin-recognized restaurant Pica Pica. From their panisses to patatas bravas, charcuterie to hummus, it was scrumptious. And finding a place for a gluten-free gal like myself and a vegan pal like Kelly is not easy. The service was delightful, and they were extremely accommodating to our dietary restrictions. This restaurant easily was the highlight of my time in Béziers.
Eat ice cream at Glacier le XIX
Nothing says vacation like ice cream, or should I say gelato? Right next to Pica Pica — Béziers is pretty small! — you can visit Glacier le XIX. Kelly and I both raved about our gelato, the perfect treat for a very hot day.
Have a drink in prison
Wait, what? Béziers turned their former prison into a hotel and bar. We didn’t have the chance to go to Hôtel La Prison, but if you’re looking for a unique thing to do in Béziers, having a glass of wine in a prison with sweeping views of the town is one way to do it!
Out of all my bucket list destinations in France, I wouldn’t have put Sète or Béziers on my list originally. But I’m so glad I discovered these two towns, thanks to a much-needed girls’ weekend. These towns make a great day trip from Montpellier, too. Did I miss something on my list of things to do in Sète and Béziers? Tell me in the comments.