Montpelier walking trips

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April 11th 2019
Published: April 11th 2019
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Tourist's Best FriendTourist's Best FriendTourist's Best Friend

It's amazing how many times you run into these automated toilettes in France. It's also very relieving. Wish there were more of them in Canada.
Montpellier is well situated for taking day trips to nearby (and sometimes not so nearby) towns. But, we have discovered there are lots of neat places to walk in Montpellier. The trips described in this blog entry were taken on random days over the period we were there. The pictures are grouped by location rather than chronologically as sometimes the destinations overlapped.

Tram station to tram station

The tram that runs by our apartment heads south towards the Mediterranean but splits before it gets there into Lattes Centre and Perols. You can walk from either to the sea or take a local bus. We decided to be daring and walk from Lattes to Palavas-Les-Flots, the resort town right on the beach, along the beach and back up to Perols. It’s only 12 or 13 kilometres and the weather was beautiful.

The tram whisked us off to Lattes and we headed to the Tourist Office. Closed on Mondays. Great day to have left our maps at home as we expected to pick them up at the tourism office. Oh well, the river is west of us so we will just go west until we find it. But the roads
Le LezLe LezLe Lez

This is what the river looks like on its way to the Mediterranean. Pretty controlled waterway.
curve in funny ways so it was hard to gauge whether we were going the right way. We found a huge public swimming pool and went inside to find a shady spot so I could read on my iPad. We found the swimming pool and its relationship to the bridge we wanted and the river itself. Off we went. We finally got to the bridge and decided we didn’t really want to cross it as we would be on the “wrong” side of the river with no way of knowing where we could cross back. There was a walking path on the “right” side of the river so south we went towards the Mediterranean.

The only problem we had now was the gale force wind blowing, fortunately, from behind us. I had my trusty Tilley hat (the sun was shining brightly in a beautiful blue sky) but I couldn’t wear it for fear of it blowing away. About 10 minutes into the stroll down the river we passed the other side of the swimming pool we had visited. Had we turned right instead of left when we exited the pool we would have run into the walking path.
Old BridgeOld BridgeOld Bridge

As you get nearer the sea, there are a lot of canals going back and forth. This old bridge looks to be still in use.
Such is the life of the explorer.

The trail was long but level. We passed all kinds of interesting sights including a lock that boaters could use to get around a fairly high weir, a stand-up paddle boarder going the other way, and a bunch of horse paddocks complete with horses. As we approached Palavas-Les-Flots we encountered something I had never seen: a three level parking garage for boats. Not sure how they get the boats to the top level. It would have been nice if they could have arranged to move one as we walked by.

We had been to Palavas-Les-Flots on our first trip to Montpellier so we contented ourselves with strolling along the beach and reminding ourselves of all the sights we had seen previously. The walk along the beach was nasty because of the blowing sand. Luckily I had my wraparound sunglasses which kept almost all the sand out of my contact lens.

It was an interesting walk and I am glad we did it. But I wouldn’t be in a hurry to do it again!

Walk to Port Arianne

While we were having our baguette, cheese and Rosé on the

There are many étangs (ponds or lagoons) between Montpellier and the sea. Some are 30 sq km. Many are filled with these beautiful birds.
deck one afternoon, we were reminiscing about the walk described above. We realized that Port Arianne was near the Lattes Centre (where we had got off the tram) and wasn’t really that far away. Taking the tram to it was a bit unnecessary (as long as you weren’t planning to walk 14 kilometres AFTER you got there). So we packed our backpacks and headed off, again walking down the river. Some interesting sights like the graffiti on the train bridge supports. Not your garden variety junk but some actual art. And we even started to recognize the train bridges from having passed over them on various trains.

The area called Port Arianne on the map we had was intriguing. It turned out to be just metres away from the bridge we didn’t cross on the previous walk. It is an upscale apartment (condo?) complex surrounding an artificial lake and channel to the river Lez that comes out of Montpellier (the one we had been walking along). Beautiful spot but it must be the summer place of many because there were hardly any people about.

We managed to walk down the other side of the river and take some
Boat garageBoat garageBoat garage

Love to have seen how they get the boats into the upper level.
pictures of the lock we had seen on our previous walk. Unfortunately, nobody was boating today so we couldn’t see the lock in action. People can go from Port Arianne down Le Lez right into the Mediterranean after they go through this lock to avoid about an 8 foot drop over a weir.

We must be getting used to this walking business as the trip home was a breeze, the round trip being only about 10 kilometres.

Palavas-Les-Flots by accident

Having been to the beach town of Palavas-Les-Flots twice this trip we decided to take the tram as far as it went and then take the bus that goes east instead of west from the tram station. We had another town in mind: it had towers, fortifications walls, and maybe even a cathedral. I was excited. But not smart enough to check the bus schedules. The bus we wanted didn’t go from this stop; it went from the tram that takes us to IKEA. We could either go back and start again or stay here and go to the new town another day.

So, we took the east bus as far as we could and planned

As we got closer to the Mediterranean the number of canals filled with small boats increased.
to walk back through the town in places we hadn’t been. In effect, we had ended up back in Palavas-Les-Flots by accident. We had to walk through the garden near the church (again!) because, as Dianne says, she loves that garden. We strolled up and down the beach in an area we hadn’t been before (much different from our earlier beach walks) enjoying the sun and the lack of wind that had plagued our earlier trips. We did manage a cappuccino (of course) along the river.

The highlight of taking the road less travelled was encountering the Musee Albert Dubout. It is looks like a small castle (built in the mid 1700s) out on an island in one of the lagoons. As we were walking out the causeway two women were walking away from the museum. One of them said something in rapid fire French that included something about there not being washrooms. Odd comment. When we got to the museum there was a hand written note saying the Museum was closed, the person in charge was at the train museum we had just passed. Hmmmmm. Oh well. We started back and a woman was rearranging some barricades at
Old ChurchOld ChurchOld Church

At the base of the modern tower with the revolving restaurant lies a beautiful old church.
the end of the causeway. Dianne told her the museum was closed. “C’est moi” she replied. “Ferme” repeated Dianne. “C’est moi!” repeated the woman and we realized she was the person in charge. Probably had to go to the train museum to use the washroom!

Albert Dubout was an artist, illustrator and cartoonist from the 1920s to the 1970s. The current displays are of many of his works. Some of them are a bit rude, some extremely funny, and all are enjoyable. It was a very satisfactory visit. It made the “accidental” trip worthwhile.

The gal from the Dubout museum let us into “Le Musée du Petit-Train” as part of our entrance fee to the Albert Dubout museum. We weren’t too sure what to expect but there were no small trains. Just one life size old train that used to shuttle between Palavas-Les-Flots and Montepllier and 6,000 (the curator told us) model cars, trucks, fire engines etc. that his father had collected over 60 years. They were incredible and slightly mind numbing.

After all this excitement, we found a different bus to take us to a tram we had never taken and we were home in no
Church gardensChurch gardensChurch gardens

Lovely little park where we had our lunch last time we were here. Very restful and shady place in the heat although it wasn't too hot this time.
time at all. Just another fun day trip in Montpellier.

End of Phase One

We had at last reached the end of our cat sitting escapade in Montpellier. We bid goodbye to Mr. Darcy (and Sheila and Kevin) and caught the train to Paris. How can we top the fun we have had so far? ToBeContinued!

Additional photos below
Photos: 26, Displayed: 26


Where are all the bathers?Where are all the bathers?
Where are all the bathers?

This is how we knew it wasn't summer tourist season yet.

The garbage cans were almost submerged in drifting sands. Even the roads on the other side of the houses right on the beach had sand drifts.
Selfie by the seaSelfie by the sea
Selfie by the sea

Where the river Lez meets the Mediterranean are two we stopped for a selfie. Do we look a little windblown? It was incredible.
Controlled riversControlled rivers
Controlled rivers

The channel for the river is pretty controlled in places.
Train bridgeTrain bridge
Train bridge

Murals are often found near overpasses. We passed over this bridge a couple of times on our travels.
Port AriannePort Arianne
Port Arianne

Half of the Port Arianne lagoon. The island on the left has some spaces for dogs. People who live in these new "high rise" apartments need a place to walk their canine friends.
Port Arianne meets the LezPort Arianne meets the Lez
Port Arianne meets the Lez

There is a huge lock gate opening from the Lez in the foreground into the lagoon and canals of the Port. From the calm waters of the lagoon boaters can motor down to the Mediterranean.
But first they have to go through the lock.But first they have to go through the lock.
But first they have to go through the lock.

You can't just motor out to the sea any old time. You must go through this lock with somewhat restricted off season hours.
The reason whyThe reason why
The reason why

There is a weir a couple of kilometres upriver from the sea; a bit of a surprise if you went over it. Traffic going upriver at least get a sign pointing to the lock.
The other way.The other way.
The other way.

I mentioned in the text that the beach was quite different looking the "other way".
Can't escape from the librariesCan't escape from the libraries
Can't escape from the libraries

Even though Dianne missed a couple of library board meetings, we did get to a few libraries. This one actually had a book in English that I hadn't read.
Our "accidental"  visitOur "accidental"  visit
Our "accidental" visit

On our last visit to Palavas-Les-Flots we took the road less traveled. It isn't just a holiday resort. There are lots of working boats here too.
Musée Albert DuboutMusée Albert Dubout
Musée Albert Dubout

The museum was in this castle-like structure quite off the beaten path. Apparently it was originally built to defend the area. Great venue for an art display.
Sample artSample art
Sample art

Albert Dubout loved to lampoon the tourists that shuttled between Montpellier and Palavas-Les-Flots. Some of his work is so detailed you could spend an hour looking at a picture and not get all the little "jokes".
Le Petit-Train museumLe Petit-Train museum
Le Petit-Train museum

The chap in charge (son of the collector) insisted on taking our picture in front of the old train (and several other things). He was justifiably proud of his collection.
Part of the museum's collectionPart of the museum's collection
Part of the museum's collection

Incredible number of vehicles displayed. Amazing details.
Just aonther lovely park.Just aonther lovely park.
Just aonther lovely park.

On our way to the bus to take us home we walked though another lovely park. Amazing how many green spaces they have in France.
Lagoon visitorsLagoon visitors
Lagoon visitors

Just off the island with the Museum is an old boat with some fisherman drying their equipment.

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