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Published: April 7th 2019
Fairly accurate name for a bus stop.
The Castries adventure began on a lazy Sunday afternoon. We were entering the last week of our five week stay with Mr. Darcy and wanted to make sure we had seen all we wanted to see of the region. Our tools were a glass of Rosé, a baguette, some cheeses and the tourist map of Montpellier.
What caught our eye wasn’t the town of Castries just outside the metropolitan area; it was the Tourist Information symbol beside the town’s name. If it has a tourist office, there must be something to see, right? Further examination led us to the quote “carrying water a distance of 6,822 metres to the Gardens of the Châteaux, it is considered to be the largest hydraulic system in France”. Having just seen the 55 kilometre aqueduct including the Pont du Gard, this was hard to believe. Oh, it did say “largest private system” and it includes a Château. We hadn’t seen one of those for days. We had a destination.
Monday we decided to try our luck. The trusty Internet told to take tram line 2 to the Notre-Dame de Sablassou stop (for some reason we just love the sound of that name) and
Built in the 1500s, burned in the 1600s, restored, badly damaged in 1789 during the French Revolution, restored in 1828, again in 1935 and is closed again for more renovations. The Circle of Life.
then the 27 or 31 bus. We think. The Google translate for some reason wouldn’t translate this page. The number 2 tram line doesn’t go by our place but it is close enough to walk to the nearest stop. However, our tram just happened to come at that moment and it crosses the number 2 line so we jumped on, rode a couple of stops and jumped off. Wow, here comes a number two tram. What a break! As the doors closed, Dianne asked if I was sure we were going in the right direction. Oops. We got off at the next stop and on to the one going the right way.
This little diversion meant we wouldn’t catch the #31 at 10:00. Oh well, there is always the #27 at 10:30. When it showed up we went to get on and the woman driver said something to me in rapid French. Pardon? I think the one word I recognized was “reservation”. For a city bus? But we weren’t getting on, that was for sure. The #31 showed up half an hour later and the driver was much more helpful even if he didn’t speak any English. We were
Dianne likes taking pictures of old doors.
able to figure out that #31 and #27 were reservation only buses. The reservations were free but you had to make them by phone. We didn’t have a cell phone so…. He would take us without one but we were concerned we might not get back so returned to town.
The next step was to go into the TAM office and get a reservation for Wednesday. The office is conveniently located to our place but there was a huge crowd. We took a number, 212, but noticed they were dealing with number 180. Hmmmmm. An hour and fifteen minutes later we got a clerk who didn’t speak enough English to understand our predicament. Her boss did and got us set up with an account and made a reservation for us. With the account we could make further reservations. Great service.
When we got home, I decided to check that I could actually see our reservation online. I could, but it was for the wrong date! Luckily the online account allowed me to change the reservation to the right date. Wednesday we set out with new confidence and, yes, we got on the line 2 tram going the right
She also loves flowers. I don't think these stairs are used for the purpose they were built.
We got off the tram and onto the bus in fine form. The only question now was where to get off the bus. There were three stops that were likely: Centre, Aqueduc and Castries. Since we wanted to see the aqueduct, we had booked the reservation to the Aqueduc stop. Bingo. We wandered around the bus stop, found the Château (which was closed for renovations) and the gardens (also closed).
But they couldn’t close the aqueduct which was right there, large as life. The internet showed a walking trail that was about 14 kilometres long. That seemed a bit excessive so we just followed the aqueduct itself. We thought it was towering over us at the bus stop but it got even higher as we went along. It soon started to get lower and lower until it eventually ended up going underground. It was neat to see all aspects of the aqueduct, including the capstones in place and, in some places, the channel where the water would have run. Turns out it was designed by Pierre Paul Riquet, the same chap that was behind the Canal du Midi. A busy guy.
We had an idea where
The château from afar
Looks better than it does up close. No wonder they are doing renovations.
the trails went so followed one that took a winding path back through some forested areas and ended up back in town. Time to find a cappuccino. The first patisserie we came to only made espressos so we continued on our search. What we hadn’t counted on was the fact that Castries was a really small town. The coffee place we found was the only place we could find. Hmmmm. We decided to live with espressos and headed back. Oops. Closed for lunch! Since they had outside tables in the shade, we hunkered down to wait. We had lots of time because we had booked a later afternoon bus back as we really didn’t know how much there would be to see in Castries. The espressos were fine and the goodies, good. We decided to hang out until bus time.
We got to the bus stop 15 minutes early as we didn’t want to miss it. The bus showed up almost right away, picked us up and headed out. We wondered what would have happened had we showed up just at the right time. This showed the sense of the reservation system. Because he knew he had two passengers
Part of the olive processing business
This was a old site of the olive business. After WWII they wanted to tear this down but due to the outcry, it was partially restored.
to pick up, he didn’t have to worry about his time table. When he got to the next timing point, he waited and didn’t leave until the scheduled time.
The bus brought us back to Notre-Dame de Sablassou (we still like that name) and the tram took us back to the train station near our house. The patisserie on our way home provided a baguette for our baguette, cheese and Rosé aperitif (have you noticed a pattern here?) on the deck, the end of another great adventure. Now What?
It is hard to believe but our time in Montpellier is coming to an end and it is time to start thinking about Paris. But first, some comments about our casual walkabouts in the Montpellier. This is ToBeContinued after all.
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