“It’s a shared adventure every time”: in Sète, the growing success of atypical visits by minibus

“It’s a shared adventure every time”: in Sète, the growing success of atypical visits by minibus

Arnaud and Yves, respectively manager of Sète grand tour and Buscapade Midi Libre – Thomas Ancona-Léger

Visits to Sète and its hinterland by minibus are on the rise. Meeting with Arnaud and Yves, two guides with different methods but who share the same love for their region.

There are plenty of ways to visit Sète. And then there is Arnaud. The man, who prides himself on his prospectus of being a "true Sétois", has been introducing tourists to the unique island for 13 years now. And in 13 years, with his company Sète Grand Tour, "he has not received  only one negative comment" he likes to recall. A true ambassador of his city, Arnaud is not a diplomat. "I don’not hesitate to say when someone upsets me. J& rsquo;likes it when it's rough: that's also the South, the mischief, the banter." And it seems to please, each year he estimates that he takes at least 1,200 people into his minibus. "There are even some who return even though they have already visited, every week I have to refuse at least twenty people."

"The experience of a lifetime"

As you might have guessed, what makes Arnaud and his tour of Sète so charming is its authenticity. A veneration for his city which allows him to say in complete frankness: "Louis XIV I don't care, if people want to find out about that , they just have to go on the internet." For this "centrevillois", what matters most is to succeed in capturing something of the soul from Sète. This spirit so singular that he promises to discover throughout the 2 h  that his visit lasts.

But can we still talk about a visit as what Arnaud proposes is more of an experience ? It’elsewhere "the experience of a lifetime in Sète" which he uses to liven up his tourist outings. But even the word tourist poses a problem for this former dental technician who became a guide somewhat late in life: "I don’I don’ like to consider visitors as simple tourists, it’ ;rsquo;is a common adventure that we experience every time". His audience ? Mainly spa guests from Balaruc-les-Bains who want to discover Sète differently. And he assures’: some have become his friends, send him messages  postcards and even invite him to the restaurant after the visit.

Love for the region

If he also finds most of his clientele among the spa guests of Balaruc-les-Bains, Yves who takes care of Buscapade is different. And in form and in substance. "With Arnaud we complement each other well", he declares. Like him, he offers minibus tours from Sète, but extends throughout the Thau basin and into the Hérault hinterland. Active since 2013, this former salesman for radio RFM s’launched into the adventure of tourist visits out of love for his region. "I think it's superb and as I love people, I wanted to share it with them ".

Russian paths

For Yves, it is important that visitors are interested in culture and heritage. "If they come just to go shopping, they can take the bus“, he says. The man who was also a shepherd near Bédarieux knows the region like the back of his hand and doesn't hesitate to take his minibus off the beaten track. His motto: don't ask for directions, you might not get lost, sums up his state of mind well. “I take the small roads, the back roads, I can sometimes not come across a single car for 30 minutes.

Over time and through his meetings with local people, Yves has been able to glean many anecdotes that he regales his visitors with. He has also been able to organize unusual tours that, despite appearances, are as well-organized as clockwork. “I can predict to the minute where I will be in my journey“, he says.

Whether it is Arnaud's spontaneity and humor or Yves' experience and curiosity, these atypical visits to Sète and its region seem to be popular. As proof: both guides are fully booked for the coming weeks.

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