Is there a better place to see live music than this?

Théâtre de la Mer is possibly the finest venue for live music. Many places offer better acoustics, others a greater feeling of intimacy, but few can match Théâtre de la Mer in Sète for spectacle. As those of you with GCSE French might have figured out already, it’s a theatre by the sea. But that sells it short.

Opened in 1960 the theatre is converted from a military fort perched atop a rocky outcrop right by the sea. The conversion created a steep bank of seating overlooking a stage, beyond which lies the Mediterranean. As a band plays beneath you your eyes drift past the stage first to the lights shone out to sea, then the passing fishing boats, and finally the full sweeping view of the Mediterranean stretching out to the horizon.

CC Image courtesy of Sophie on Flickr

The beauty of the setting makes it especially well suited to a certain sort of ethereal, bliss-tinged music and the scheduling plays on this. Each year Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Festival arrives in town bringing artists perfectly suited to Théâtre de la Mer like Cinematic Orchestra and James Blake. There is also an annual jazz festival and numerous one-off concerts. If you even have a vague interest in an artist we recommend going. The venue will make up for any musical shortcomings.

A potential stumbling block for the Montpellier-based music lover is getting home. Gigs will often start around 21:00. The last train is often before 23:00. And the venue is 30 minutes from the train station. If there’s something coming up you fancy and you lack wheels yourself, it’s probably best to start ingratiating yourself with a car-owning friend. They’ll thank you for it when they see the view.

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