Sète Water Jousting Festival

Sete jousting

Boats, lances, adversaries sending each other into the water – I had never heard of water jousting until Marc and I visited Sète earlier this year. With our one-euro train tickets (not a typo!), we headed to Sète again last week to see the annual jousting festival, also known as la Fête de la Saint Louis.

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Water jousting in France started in the 18th century and is now part of the traditions in the Languedoc region. It’s hard to believe that it’s a recognized sport in France! Water jousting is pretty much like jousting on a horse, except the players are on boats and the loser can get very wet.

To signal the beginning of the match, the oboist and the drummer on the boat play a traditional jousting tune while the two boats advance. The players stand perched on the boat platforms, holding shields to protect their chests. If you look closely, you can see that the players closest to the jousters often protect their heads against falling jousters.

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We watched some junior and mid-junior matches. I noticed that the junior kids were more prone to falling in the water. It was super cute to watch the younger kids but I didn’t expect them to be so competitive! One kid angrily threw his lance into the water and put his hands on his hips after losing; another kid even cried.

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The atmosphere was lively and the competition was interesting to see; I just wish we got to see the adult leagues as well. Instead of the motor generated boats, the adult boats are powered by oarsmen. I would imagine that grown-ups getting thrown overboard would be more amusing too! 🙂

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Eating Raw Razor Clams

A visit to Sète is never complete without seafood! Aside from delicious oysters, we tried some raw couteaux (razor clams) for the first time. They are the rectangle shaped in the picture below. I’ve also included a video to show you just how alive they were! 😉

Seafood Sete

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Thanks for reading et à la prochaine!



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