I’m on my own!!! The Hubster has gone to see a friend and so I’m going to bore the pants off you! Sorry but I have a backlog of photos that I want to share!
You’ll have got the feeling, by now, that we are really enjoying Montpellier. It is such a vibrant city, although it gives the impression that it is several villages that have come together. The quarters can change from street to street, one moment you are in a rather middle class area and yet take a side road and you can end up in a rundown area with a bustling North African market. You can step from the old historic centre and just one street away is an avenue lined with plane trees and Hausmannian Apartments. It’s really quite diverse.
As you walk around there always seems to be something to catch your eye, like this beautiful statue of unicorns, one of which has a beer bottle on it’s horn!! How on earth did they get up there?
Strolling along on Sunday morning I came across this group of students, moving house!! It was so hot, I think they just gave up and took a seat in the middle of the road! I took the photo and explained that it would be going on my blog … we chatted for about half an hour about all sorts, it was a good morning!
We are finding, thanks to knowing a couple of people here, that we are being introduced to a little bit of culture!
Just this week we were invited to a concert, the musicians, a harpist and a violinist, were giving a small concert at a local “Luthier’s” (stringed instrument maker) workshop. We cycled through the old town to get to the quarter which is called Beaux Art. This is the artistic side of Montpellier, artists, musicians, artisans and craftsmen tend to be here, it has a very bohemian feel to it. We arrived at the workshop and there was a small queue of spectators ready to enter the building. The organiser informed us that there was an electricity cut in the area and therefore there was no lighting or air con! Next out came a trestle table laden with bottles of water, wine, fruit juices and nibbles to quench a very hot and sticky gathering. We all stood around chatting, total strangers coming up and asking where we were from, what did we think of their city and making us feel very welcome indeed.
The next announcement was that the musicians declared they were quite happy to perform in the street! One of the neighbours kindly came down and opened up his garage to provide some extra width to the narrow street. The road was blocked off with a couple of traffic cones, chairs were brought out into the middle of the street, the harp was wheeled out and music stands at the ready. What an atmosphere! Neighbours hung over their balconies and leaned out of their windows, dog walkers stopped in their tracks as they took their evening stroll, children played in the street, grandmothers brought little children to enjoy the music. The occasional moped usually zooming at break neck speed, slowed to a splutter as they drove past the spectacle. The music was incredible and all the more special given the atmosphere.
Eventually, normality resumed, the streetlights came on and so everyone picked up their chairs, the harp and the trestle table and went indoors. Another delight, the workshop was wonderful, full of the artisan’s tools, violins lined up in glass cabinets with the names of the owners on little swinging tickets waiting for collection, wood blanks ready to been turned and honed into beautiful walnut-coloured, brand-new, shiny violins, cellos propped up against the walls, it was. just fascinating. The lights dimmed and the concert resumed, I was surprised that I knew most of the pieces, it was beautiful, and on closing my eyes I was almost moved to tears. I very nearly had a Pretty Woman “Pirates of Penzance” experience! (If you’ve seen the film – you’ll know what I mean!)
We left the concert full of calm and serenity and cycled back to the flat, the bar opposite (an Irish bar!!) was open, tables full of people chatting and drinking, what appeared to be really cool drinks and enjoying the now cooler evening (30 degrees at 11pm!!) We dropped off the bikes, collected Charlie and ordered some long cool beers, Charlie was given a bowl of water, the owner (English!!) popped over and we sat and chatted till the early hours. Strangely, his aunt lived in a town we lived in for many years in the north of England!!
Last night was different, we were in the flat when we heard musical instruments being tuned (not altogether unusual here!) trumpets, trombones, tubas and the banging of drums. This time I was glad I had my camera and tripod to hand and didn’t have to rely on a mobile! What a bunch of characters! Colourful, eccentric and extremely talented guys playing the most amazing mix of jazz/salsa/blues. A feast for the eyes and the ears!
These guys had so much energy as they danced, stomped and jigged around, you must believe me that it is absolutely boiling down here (even the locals are saying it’s not normally so hot for such a long period!) How they managed to produce the music they did for nearly two hours is simply unbelievable! I don’t think I would’ve lasted 10 minutes!
I did warn you that this was going to be a long post, it’s just that we’ve seen and done so many things that I want to share with you. And I haven’t even told you about our “Mojito Evening” where we dined at a long table (17 guests) in a garden complete with swimming pool, candle lights and great banter (and mosquitos!). We cycled back at least 5km through the city at 1 in the morning, somewhat weary and maybe just a little tiddly! Or the evening when we took Charlie to the beach and had a picnic next to the waves, under the stars and stopped for Italian ice cream on the way home!!