This time I'm keeping it limited to "around Montpellier" - although the zone referred to is so varied that it isn't really limited. There's something for everyone. So much so that I'm forced to do this part in more than one ....otherwise I couldn't do it all justice! So - here is part 1 of part 3 - if you follow me........!
Montpellier is the Regional Capital of Languedoc-Roussillon, and as such contains literally something for everyone. Impossible to note everything, so I'm covering the more unknown or personal aspects.
|Tramway at the "Place Comédie"|
One of the reasons is obviously the weather - the sun shines almost every day of the year - at some stage.....! The beaches are just a short ride and are some of the most beautiful beaches one could imagine, well taken care of, and have everything from family to "gay" - passing by the nudist - open to everyone.... Recently, thanks to the liberal ideas of a man called Georges Freche,
|Image via Wikipedia|
Or - in the other directions it will take you straight into the countryside and to most of the surrounding towns and villages - flying past all the queued up cars - in comfort!
The absolute beauty is particularly that you can normally park your car in one of the Tramway points - free of charge, if you buy a Tramway ticket, then go around the City in comfort. Frankly - if I lived there, as a Pensioner, I'd spend all day, every day in the Tramway.......Warm in winter, cool in Summer - lower costs for heating or cooling at home! Watch the world roll past and take photos!
In Montpellier itself the central point is probably "La Comédie" - magnificent central, wide spaced area, surrounded by Cafés and Restaurants (not only fast food ones either) where the typical occupation is sitting - watching the world go past.
To appreciate the vivality of Montpellier, you have to know that the City is one of the largest Student places in Europe, which makes life "younger" but keeping it very varied with many things for ALL ages. Architecture and History throughout time is represented, this is the City of Ancient Medical Universities - this is the place that people like Nostradamus studied, lived and worked in... ..(here is a link to his predictions for 2012 - so hurry up and visit the area...!)
The most interesting for me personally are the little "rouelles" in the old city. You just never know what you're going to find. There are student bars, ancient shops, instrument makers, you name - it's there!
..One of my favourite recollections is wandering around Montpellier old city, looking at the various markets, both open air and in the various Halls, and finally realising it was almost Midday....lunch called..So - We did what we always did in a new place, we asked either a Postman or a Policeman where to eat - cheaply and originally! In this case we were escorted by the "Agent de Police" to a most innocent looking passage, and escorted right to a table inside what was probably Nostradamus' local in the 16th century or so....!...There - we were served with a 6 course meal, everything totally fresh - no frozen stuff or tinned stuff - from fresh oysters to a kind of "Zabaglione/Sabayon" as dessert. My favourite was the fresh tuna fish quiche.....and together with a few bottles of wine, we came out for two people (and a couple of Apéritives for our Policeman friend, a couple for us, and coffees with Digestifs) with our wallet lighter by just around about 250 French Francs - which at the time was around 25 british pounds sterling! Yes it is a few years ago, but to give you an idea, at the time a Hamburger on the Place Comédie cost around about 20 Francs....with no wine!
The place was run by a very old couple of ladies, possibly Nostradamus' Aunties, so I doubt whether it is still the same nowadays. I'll have to go back some day and check!
The point I'm making is that there are innumerable places like that in those old streets, and it's good fun trying to find them!
Nowadays, we would just jump back into the tramway and fall asleep in the cool and quiet surroundings..... at the time we had to try to siesta in our camping car - in suffocating heat!
Still, we survived to go visiting the town and villages surrounding the Regional Capital of Montpellier......