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Sticks, water & tradition!

You may have heard of “jousting”……… men in full armour carrying a heavy lance hurtling towards each other as fast as their sturdy mounts will carry them. The winner being whoever managed to stay in the saddle the longest!

Sete, France an old Phoenician town intersected with canals (not quite Venice) has a very interesting sport! “Canal Jousting”  Replace the armour with fetching outfits of white pants, white shirt with blue and white striped shirt underneath, add white socks a white shield and a metal tipped jousting pole. The steed is a 10 oared boat, complete with steersmen, drummer, oboe player and the “knight” perched precariously on the very tip of the insectile elevated stern or “Jousting platform”.

The knight’s take position, raise their shield and lance and they are on……. 20 men rowing at full speed…… drummers, oboe players and the shore based brass band are off!!!!! Who is going to get knocked from their high perch? The Bleu knight or the Rouge, or maybe both!

This has been a summer event since the 1660’s, it incorporates chivalry, camaraderie & competition in all ages….. we missed the infant event, witnessed what appeared to be the under twenties event, which is to be followed by the “Big Boys” on Sunday!

The main events take place on the “Cadre royal quai de la resistance” or the Royal Canal…. You cannot miss it, as it has grandstands in place. These are free of charge, arrive early for the best seats or alternatively dine at one of the neighbouring restaurants as they have great ringside seating!

To me these young men are to be commended for their dedication and chivalry. Some charges are aborted (unlike in days of yore) safety is paramount…… In a sport that involves being hit hard, by a metal tipped pole, losing your footing and bouncing off your own platform or your enemies before hitting what must be cold water!

As the action commenced the stands filled rapidly, all eager to share in the successes? We were applauding the valiant efforts of the knights who maintained their footing. It was the demise of one or both knights who got the most applause though………. especially when it was one of those “ouch” moments. More than one bandaged finger and bruised arm was sported by these chivalrous young gentleman, not a gentle sport……. shield, pole, opponent and two platforms between them and hopefully a soft, if wet landing.

What a fun day! Thanks to a tip from our hosts…… the most fun times we have seem to be from following up from tips from those in the know!

Sete is also a great place for fresh mussels! Fresh, plump and tasty for less than back home! Jousting is a summer sport, check the schedule in advance and combine jousting, wine and mussels……. Life’s good!



About the author: Michael was born under a wanderin’ star. He is an Engineer who became an explorer, a photography enthusiast, and hack traveller writer with the propensity to be snarky. Retired at the age of 44, he and his wife Yvonne travel and house sit around the globe on a full time basis grazing on awesome food along the way. Michael’s mission is to inform, inspire and empower people who are interested in travelling extensively in their retirement.

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