The mercury is rising over here but we have managed a couple of walks and trips out over the last week and of course in true form, I took a bunch of photos to share with you.
Firstly here are some of Montpellier … and yes my first impressions were correct, this is a fabulous city. It’s like a mini Paris, it has all the lovely avenues, cafes spilling out on to the pavements, lots of lovely little artisan shops and it even has it’s own mini Arc de Triomphe!
There appear to be very distinct districts or quarters here and we are staying in the Old Historic Centre which is a maze of little narrow alleyways, through tall buildings, all with long windows with pastel coloured shutters (most of which need a damn good paint … if you don’t mind me saying so!) It’s full of wonderful. little, artisan shops and every now and then the alleyways open up into a square which has cafes and greenery.
The historic centre appears to be the most artistic area and there’s evidence all over that there are some very creative people living here. I just love the way the bollards are now an art form. So much more attractive than concrete!
Where Montpellier differs to most cities I’ve visited, is the fact that no matter what time of day or night (and yes I mean all night) there is music! We are staying next to the ‘Conservatoire de Musique’ so of course we probably have more music than most but it really is quite amazing how many people I’ve see walking around with musical instruments, guitars, saxophones, banjos, accordions, drums and just last night some chap wandering around with a Cello!!
As we sat eating our dinner with our windows open, we were serenaded by ‘the Tango’ on one side and some really cool ‘Reggae’ on the other and in the square there were a couple of guys playing guitars! So this isn’t a quiet city by any means. As we are on a Square, it is filled with students during the night ( Yes, every night!!) who sit chatting, singing, drinking and smoking. They haven’t yet learned how to talk in low voices, the fact that it is 4 o’clock in the morning means nothing to them!! I’m glad to report that the drinking is done in a very polite and French fashion and as yet we’ve not experienced any drunkenness, violence or yobbism! It’s just all very good fun however it isn’t really conducive to a good night’s sleep! Especially as it’s so hot! (I would’ve loved Montpellier in my 20’s!!)
Last week we drove out to Sete and although we really wanted to see more of it, the heat for Charlie the dog, was just too much so we drove up to Mont St Clare and took in the incredible view of the town. It certainly wasn’t a disappointment and we’ve made a note to return when it isn’t so hot.
Another quarter in Montpellier is called Les Arceaux, (the Arches) and what arches!! Named after the aqueduct which runs into the city, inspired by the Pont de Gard (on my wish list!) It has a double layer of arches and extends over 800 metres.
There was more evidence of a incredibly talented artist here … this is a trompe l’oeil and it is one of the best I’ve ever seen.
The next quarter we visited was one called ‘Antigone’. (In Greek legend Antigone was the daughter of Oedipus and Jocasta). This area is the complete opposite to the old quarter. It’s Catalan architect obviously inspired by Old Greece – it is grand, with columns, squares, arches, an Olympic swimming pool and copies of famous statues, Diana the huntress, Zeus, and Venus etc. It leads all the way down to the River Lez which has some unusual types of bridges for crossing from one side to the other.
It’s been very hot over here and it’s made it hard work walking around being the tourists but I’m so glad we’ve made the effort.
There’s still a lot more to discover but we’ll be taking our time as it’s actually getting hotter and hotter, it was 34 degrees before 10 am this morning and reports that it was over 50 degrees on the beach … think we’ll be giving that a miss then!!