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Saint-Louise – Sète’s historic Lighthouse

This lighthouse proudly stands at the end of Le Môle Saint-Louis, Sète’s pier.
The jetty, 650 metres long, was the first structure to be built when the city was founded in 1666. Walking to the pier, you can still spot portraits of seafarers, painted by the German artist Klaus Dauven during the Escale à Sète in 2018. Eventually, these portraits will fade away and, interestingly, they are something like reverse graffiti. More clearly, instead of spray painting the portraits on the wall, the artist etched out murals on dirt-encrusted surfaces using a pressure washer.
The jetty has a walkway by the sea that stretches as far as the Saint-Louis lighthouse at its far end, and It’s also where the marina is located with its 300 mooring rings.

Besides the reversed graffiti, there was other art to discover: arriving at the lighthouse, there is a French poem engraved at the bottom, to the right of the entrance. The two lines are an extract from the poem “Naissance de Vénus” by Sète born poet Paul Valéry. It’s rouglhly translated as “Her quick eye is a mingling of perilous lightning. Water’s laughter, and the fickle dancing of the waves“.

The original Phare Saint-Louis was built around 1680 however, German mines destroyed the lighthouse in 1944, during World War II, and it was reconstructed in 1948. Hence the date above the entrance.
Still today it continues to use its red light to signal the entrance to the channel, and it is now open to the public. It is possible reach the top of the 33.5 metres high lighthouse, to enjoy a magnificent view over Sète and its surroundings from the marina side, including Mont Saint Clair and the old town of Sète in the background, to a view over the bustling commercial port with its cargo ships filled with containers.

Author’s notes: the Phare Saint-Louis is open to the public from February to November. The entrance fee is € 3.50 and free for children under 12 years old.

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