In Sète: Along L'lle de Thau - Three Seasons Around France: Autumn - CycleBlaze

November 3, 2022

In Sète: Along L'lle de Thau

We were promised rain today, and we’re getting it.  The forecast for the day looks mixed though, with dry intervals alternating with periods of light showers and rain.  A bike ride is out but we should hopefully be able to get in some sort of walk.   While we wait for improvements we share our cramped quarters, filling the time with a variety of tasks: finalizing our itinerary for the rest of the tour, making bookings for the next week or so, shopping for restaurants, and so on.

Throughout the morning we keep thinking our time has come but the forecast keeps changing every time we look - both on the lying weather apps and the more accurate one outside our window.  Finally in early afternoon it looks stable enough that we decide to go.  It’s dry when we leave, but we take our raincoats just in case.

We’re only about two blocks from our apartment when we’re stopped by a large, intriguing mural.  I snap its image and then research it later because it’s so unusual.  I learn that it’s a work by Monkey Bird, a pair of artists from Bordeaux.  Their bio from their website interested me enough that I thought I’d keep it around to remind me later: 

Under the name “Monkey Bird” hide Louis Boidron (Blow) and Edouard Egea (Temor). The two artists met during their studies in Bordeaux and since 2012 have signed collective works.  

Everyone has their totem animal. For one it is the monkey, a clever and resourceful animal that represents humor and spirit. For the other it is the bird symbol of freedom, but also of poetry. 

The duo works in single-layer stencil and in black and white, which makes it possible to dig into the volumes and obtain great depth. Black represents both solid and liquid matter, white vaporous light, like the breath of the soul, the whole giving balance and vitality. 

Each fresco asks them for a gigantic cutting work that is close to lace. They create veritable pieces of goldsmithery which, once assembled, give the desired look. 

Their primary goal is not to convey a message, but to impromptu transform an anonymous wall into a community monument. Their source of inspiration comes from all the symbolic representations they can find in cathedrals, in cemeteries or in old manuscripts. Of course, their favorite animals are systematically staged, but there are regular iconographic additions of manufactured objects such as clocks, construction machinery, arches or rosettes as well as a particular typography. 

Monkey Bird's frescoes are both influenced by the past and graffiti as we know it today: an alliance between the idea of classical muralism but integrating the currents of the 21st century. The large frescoes that they produce almost everywhere represent a real challenge for artists who are more accustomed to working on small surfaces – and often on wood.

Anagonie, by Monkey Bird (2017). Anagonie means Anagonie means “mystical elevation of souls”, a word close to Antagonism, Antagonism between Heaven and Earth, between the world of animals and that of humans.
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We’ve planned a loop for ourselves - a seven and a half mile walk that begins along the waterfront on the north side of town, follows it west as it skirts the northern flank of Mont Saint-Louis, and then doubles back across the top of the squat mountain.  Nothing too strenuous, but still this is possibly the longest walk I’ve taken since we returned from England and my knees will be feeling it by the time I finally complete the steep descent back to town.

Let’s get the rocks out before we get too far into this.
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In the fisherman’s quarter.
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I promised Rachael there would be flamingos down here. We don’t even need the zoom camera to appreciate this one.
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Closed for the day.
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Looking across the Thau Lagoon at Baraluc-Les-Bains, one of the string of villages that line the north side of the lake.
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Windy and bleak today.
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Keith AdamsBut not so much as to stop the sailing lessons, apparently. I'm assuming all those identical sails are part of an instructional fleet?
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3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Keith AdamsI thought perhaps so too and called out to ask. I couldn’t hear their response over the wind though.
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3 weeks ago
It doesn’t take too long until I’ve stopped for one too many photos and I’m on my own for the rest of the walk.
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Pole sitters.
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Fishing gear, or a work of art? You decide.
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Not catching much wind.
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Macrame art.
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Securely sealed.
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Some boats.
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We’re walking along a short artificial canal, looking across at a small artificial island: the 28 acre L'lle de Thau, built in 1968. From what I can discern it looks like it might have built to provide living space for lower income residents and/or immigrant refugees. It’s currently undergoing a large scale renovation to improve its livability.
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A look along the artificial canal separating L'lle de Thau from ‘mainland’ Sète.
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Looking west along the Thau Lagoon. In the distance is Pic Saint-Loup, the ancient volcano that is the source for the basalt from which much of Agde is built. Agde itself is just on its far side.
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Enough with the cat photos. Let’s see some chairs!
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At the west end of Île de Thau is Canal des Quilles, a short, narrow canal connecting Thau Lagoon with the sea. This is the western end of our walk. From here we leave the waterfront and climb back over a shoulder of Mont Saint-Louis.
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A boisterous crowd greets us as we leave the waterfront.
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Climbing the flank of Mont Saint-Louis. The northern side of the mountain is covered by a forest park riddled with rough trails and paths. It was a bit hard finding my way up, and I was glad to be here before it got dark.
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Looking down on the east end of Thau Lagoon. The small peninsula on this side was on our walking route. This is just the eastern edge of the lake. Most of it is off the frame to the left, extending for another ten miles.
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Rachael took only a single photo on her walk but she came back with the best shot of the day with this view from the top of Mont Saint-Clair looking along the sandbar to Mont Saint-Loup at the far end of the lake.
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Janice BranhamWow, what a scene
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3 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Janice BranhamFrance is so amazing, so diverse. You might think of coming back someday.
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3 weeks ago
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