Paradiso – Best Tielles in Sète

Sète and Tielles – An Introduction

In order to understand Sète and the local specialty tielles, it is necessary to understand a little about how the town came into existence and some subsequent events which have shaped this seaside town that we often stop in on our journeys around France.

The emergence of Sète is closely related to the extraordinary events surrounding the building of the Canal du Midi which was planned and executed by one man, namely Pierre-Paul Riquet in the 17th Century.

Riquet was a wealthy man with a passion to link the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea so that sea traffic coming from England and northern Europe would not have to travel via the Iberian Peninsula which was quite dangerous at the time.

He therefore designed the canal to be built between the Garonne river which flowed from Toulouse to Bordeaux where it reached the Atlantic Ocean leaving the remainder of the journey to require a canal. He therefore needed to build the canal from Toulouse to the Mediterranean through the cities of Castelnaudry, Carcassonne and Narbonne and then on to the Etang du Thau, a seawater lake on the Mediterranean Coast.

He designed every last detail of how it could be built including many valley that needed to be crossed and the elevations overcome through designing and building many locks on the route. He did approach King Louis XIV for funding and he was quite interested in the project and did provide some funding, but most ended up being from Riquet’s personal wealth supplemented by some of the owners of land it travelled through. Many of the landowners could see the benefit of having a canal to transport goods throughout southern France.

King Louis could see the advantages of servicing the sea traffic that would eventuate as a result of the canal being built so encouraged the founding of Sete at the top of the Etang du Thau, where they also designed a set of canals that could access the ocean.

Fast forward to the middle of the 19th Century when there were hard times in Italy especially in the villages of Gaeta and Cetara on the Amalfi Coast, many of the people in these villages emigrated to Sète looking for a better life and found a plentiful supply of octopus and squid which allowed them to make a dish that reminded them of home – this was the start of the dish which is now known as tielle!

Initially it was a food for the poor that was restricted to Italian immigrants who occupied an area higher up the hill than the well-off traders who lived closer to the sea.

Paradiso and Tielles – The best in Sète

As we have described above, the town of Sète sits on the edge of a saltwater lake with access to the Mediterranean. Fishing boats come and go constantly here bringing fresh fish, octopus and squid from the nearby depths.

And there is one place which rises above the others selling excellent tielles and good pizza. The name of this treasured establishment is Paradiso.

In our time in Sete on our most recent trip we bought tielle at Paradiso every day. They are just sooo good! We have also included this venue in our story about where to eat in France outside Paris here.

Additional information

Street: Paradiso

Street: 11 Quai de la Résistance

Town/Suburb: Sète, 34200

Phone number: +33 4 67 74 26 48

Opening hours: Daily from 8am

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