Well, we’ve just got over the Easter weekend here in the South of France. Is it different to Easter in the UK? A little maybe, the first thing that is definitely amiss over here, are Hot Cross Buns! Having worked for Marks & Spencer in the past, Hot Cross Buns were something that I was never short of at this time of year, in fact with staff discounts and BOGOFs (buy one get one free) I used to purchase loads at knock down prices, eat plenty, freeze packets and even manage to leave a couple of packets on my neighbours doorsteps!
Easter Saturday, we went into Montpellier centre and walked around the streets and did a little bit of shopping. It was a glorious day, the sun was shining and it was lovely and warm, buskers are back on the street and no matter where you are there is music wafting on the air. It was really lovely, it reminded me of our arrival in Montpellier.
Saturday night, we celebrated Persian New Year but I shall leave all the details of that out as it really isn’t French is it??
Easter Sunday, and we were woken by the bells, oh yes they do like their bells here! Fortunately it wasn’t too early and so didn’t ruin a good night’s sleep or the lie in! We had a busy weekend so please come along for the ride!
We weny to Sete which is just along the coast. Sete is a major port that has a network of canals and is known as the Venice of Languedoc Rousillon, it has bridges here and there and boats everywhere! Sete is the birthplace of French singer/songwriter George Brassens and also of French poet and philosopher Paul Valery. Oh and it is also home to the Tielle, which is a slightly spicy, squid pastry which is totally delicious. This weekend Sete has been celebrating it’s 350 years as a port and so there were all sorts of attractions. Lots of tall ships, military ships, pirate ships along with little sailing boats, dows, and wee, fishing vessels.
It was packed along the canal sides, there were demonstrations of rescues at sea, survival and first aid lessons, there was a plethora of traders, selling the typical blue and white stripy t-shirts and jumpers, the beautiful, waterproof souwesters, artisans smoking herring, wine producers, tinned fish and olives, activities for kiddies and of course music, shanty fisherman tunes.
It was a sight for sore eyes. I really enjoyed the afternoon, strolling along and stopping every now and then to take in some sight, sound or smell.
We’d built up an appetite so popped back to the car, only to bump into some friends of ours from Paris who we hadn’t seen for over 10 years! I can’t even begin to tell you what a wonderful feeling it was to see them.What a surprise!! They had just arrived and were visiting their daughter and family, they had come to Sete for the festivities, what are the chances of bumping into someone like that, it was obviously meant to be! They had eager grandchildren and we had rumbling tummies, so telephone numbers were exchanged, goodbyes said, tight hugs given and promises to keep in touch.
We we set off along the coast to a town called Bouzigues, which is on the Etang de Thau (a saltwater lagoon). This is where the oyster beds are, it’s an amazing sight, mile after mile of square frames on wooden stilts, this is the home of French Oysters, it’s said that all oysters in France start off here in Bouzigues!
This quaint, fishing village runs along side the lagoon, we chose a little, restaurant and ordered oysters – Surprise surprise! Now you either love ’em or hate ’em, personally, I’m not fussed either way! To me, I’m afraid they just taste like a mouthful of sea water so I ordered King prawns and one of our friends ordered sea urchins ( I tasted one but I’ll put my hands up, I really didn’t like it one bit!) However, as we sat eating seafood, sipping chilled white wine, gazing out at the sea there was an authenticity to the whole experience.
You would think that would have been enough to do over the Easter weekend but no, on Easter Monday we made our way to the Pont de Gard. What a wonderful day, the weather although a little overcast, was warm and the wind had dropped so we were up for a walk.
OK a little bit of history, the Pont de Gard is in the Gard region of France, it’s tallest Roman Bridge in the world, it’s 360m long and 50m high over three levels. It was built approximately 2000 years ago and surprisingly only took about 5 years to construct. It is rather impressive.
There were a couple of other tourists on the bridge who insisted on pointing out the carving of not one but two penis’s!!! All very odd, I took the photo and so you too can see it! I’m not sure what it signifies, it wasn’t mentioned in the guide pamphlet!!!
The river seemed fairly low the day we were there but people do swim and canoe in the river!
As it was a Bank holiday there was much to see and do here also, the French really know how to entertain, I think the thing I always notice is the amount of music you hear in France, it’s pretty much everywhere and the Pont de Gard was no different.
There were activities for children and adults alike, donkey rides, organic market, old fashioned games, picnic areas, and a signed walk which we decided would be a perfect way to walk off the burgers that we’d purchased and devoured!
All in all, it was a very enjoyable day out and I was chuffed to bits, the Pont de Gard, has been on my bucket list for a couple of years now … tick!
On our way home we drove to Uzes, (lucky me, as this too has been on my list for a while). We stopped long enough to have a coffee, sitting on the main square in the town absorbing the atmosphere, it was truly lovely and so typically French. There was a potters market on while we visited and some of the items really made you want to reach for your purse, just as well I don’t have a proper home yet!
The square was lovely, with a fountain in the centre and beautiful buildings all around set above arches at street level. The stone is such a soft colour here and all of the shutters were painted in soft pastel colours, cream, greys, sage greens and powder blues. The trees as yet have just buds on them, but I can already imagine me sitting there in the summer being grateful for the cool shade the trees in leaf must provide. A definite big tick for Uzes and definitely a place to return to.
And so there you have it, a very busy Easter weekend, it was so enjoyable. I feel all warm and fuzzy inside and am still pinching myself on a daily basis just to make sure that I’m not dreaming all of this!!!
I hope you enjoyed sharing our weekend, I shall keep you up to date with our little day trips and other happenings here in the Languedoc Roussillon area of France, until then take care.