As you now from the last article, you can now get cheaply, comfortably and easily from Montpellier to the beaches close by using the magnificent tramway.
A place I lived in for some years is called Perols, and it is on the inland lake called an "Etang" - in this case the "Etang de Perols". This is linked immediately to the sea, just a thin band of land seperating the two. To get to the small village of Perols itself, you have to leave the main fast highways and go up into the village, and to the Etang. Perols has lost itself a little by being "bypassed" by the Autoroute and the speed routes Montpellier to the beaches. The village itself is visited very rarely nowadays, the place being known mainly for its Commercial Centers on the outskirts, which actually make Perols one of the richest little communities in the area. It is a typical village for the area, and the centre really is not large. You can go yachting, canoing - fishing and even water ski-ing on the etang, although petrol driven outboards are limited if not simply forbidden. Around the etang is a large nature park, and it will take a whole day to walk or bicycle around the whole thing. The main attractions are the Flamingoes, and various other forms of bird life. These wild birds are, fortunately for them, inedible or I doubt if they would exist any more! They are quite magnificent in plumage and elegance and it is always a beautiful sight to see a colony of them taking off or sweeping in to land. It is true that in high season they sometimes hide themselves in the more inaccessible areas of the Natural park, the Camargue, which is not far from here. In fact this zone is known as "Petite Camargue" and joins onto the main Camargue a few miles further away.
Eels are fished professionally in the waters of the Etang, and they are reared to be sent as stock for other European areas, so - don't try to buy some - they are exclusively for export, and one rarely - if ever - sees them on sale.
From Perols, we carry on over the bridge on the main road taking us into the tourist and working town of Carnon, actually a part of the area named "Mauguio-Carnon" since it is dependant on the nearby community of "Mauguio" for its administration. a typical for the area tourist seaside town, mixed with working people like fishermen although mainly now known as a coastal tourist holidaymaking resort. The number of holiday appartment blocks here is enormous, but they are relatively well integrated into the surroundings, and have a whole range of Restaurants, bars, supermarkets and so on.
Carnon also boasts pleasure boat storage facilities for thousands of the things! If they all went out onto the water at the same time, there would be no space anywhere!
"Mauguio-Carnon" is known for one other major thing....the "International Airport".....Not a large place, but it does have quite a busy life, most airlines being represented. Car hire companies are also present of course, but the airport itself has few attractions as elsewhere like shopping galleries and cafes or restaurants. There are a couple, but the standard is open to question!
This area, incidentally, is back into "Tauromachie" country, with Bullfighting arenas in each however so small village, and the Arenas are regularly used for various events.
A little drive further down the coast can be interesting, just 3-4 miles to the town of Palavas.....rather less touristic, although still heavily invaded in the summer periods, Palavas has its own charms, totally different from Carnon. It's worth a visit, and it is the typical target for the French living in Montpellier and the area to get out over the weekends. This does have a slight tendency to keep the restaurant prices reasonable, similar to those of Montpellier itself.
Our next aim is the town of Mauguio, a town traditionally inhabited by more than 90% Spanish. They came basically before, but particularly during and after the Spanish Civil War, and installed themselves in this town. Everything is Spanish, like a lot of other places in the whole area. This does have certain advantages, the Spanish love fish, and don't want to know about bad or not nice fish, so fish bought in the Supermarkets at Mauguio tends to be fresher, have a much larger variety, and to be somewhat cheaper than elsewhere!
Mauguio (the inhabitants incidentally are known as "Malgoriens" or "Malgoriennes") also has an attraction very popular every SUNDAY....the open air market ..it really is large, and cheap, and it is centrally placed. Only problem is getting somewhere to park!
Normally, on the "Place de la Mairie" -in the centre as well, there is the "Marche aux Fleurs" flowers and plants - Both markets are open generally every Sunday.
Mauguio also has it's Arenas, larger than many, and the annual "Feria" is popular, although not of the size of those in Beziers or Nimes.
So....there we are.....we've covered a large area, all very different, from wild parks, scenery and beasts to other wild beasts - the tourists.....Next time around, we'll be leaving the Herault, and passing over to Department of the Gard - where mr le marquis "resides"....hope you'll come along for the ride.........