Sete, France

The port town of Sete hugs the tiny Mont St. Clair, and is caught between the Mediterranean and the Bassin de Thau, a salt lake directly behind it. It is crisscrossed by numerous canals which link the lake to the sea, and connected by 12 bridges. Along the quay, renovated buildings provide a multitude of architectural details from the 18th and 19th centuries. The life of the town is found in its squares: Place Leon Blum, with its fountain and Wednesday morning flower market; Place Aristide, with its old fashioned bandstand; and Place de la Republique, with its huge retaining walls and vaulted loggias. Sete retains its historic purpose as a fishing boat haven for North African trade; the old harbor dates from the time of Louis XIV.