Montpellier wrapup

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July 5th 2017
Published: July 5th 2017
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Mr. DarcyMr. DarcyMr. Darcy

Our roommate in his favourite position: outside on the deck checking out what was going on. I miss him.... but not the litter box.
How bad is this? Home two weeks and just realized I forgot to post the last blog entry for our trip to France! The only excuse is that we have been pretty busy getting caught up here on Pender.

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The beauty of having 23 days in the same city is that you don’t have to rush around every day. You can take a day or two and just do nothing, or something close to it.

Not that we did much of that, it’s just that some days we were content to take a tram to a park and just walk around. Of course, we managed to find a place to have a cappuccino pretty well every day.

I have blogged about the day trips we took from Montpellier so here are some comments on the local activities.

Pic Saint Loup Wine Tour

Several people recommended this tour. Bertrand picked us (and two others) up in a very nice Mercedes van and whisked off to a small town near Pic Saint Loup, a mountain about 20 km from Montpellier. We stopped to visit a small village first to give us a flavour

What I expected on a wine tour. Lots of vines.
of the region. We visited two wineries (including tasting, yum) before having lunch at his mother’s B&B in a beautiful setting near the mountain. The other travellers were a young woman from India and he father-in-law. We had a great lunch and very interesting conversation.

We enjoyed their company so much that we agreed to meet in a couple of days at an Indian restaurant in Montpellier. When they arrived there were three of them so Joyti introduced us to a young(ish) man with them. Dianne asked if he was Jyoti’s husband. She laughed and said “it would be a bit cheeky to bring along another man since we are with my father-in-law”.


There are lots of museums in France and we had seen many of them. I wasn’t too keen on going to the Musée Fabre as it is well known for its collection of paintings and I had seen quite enough paintings between last year’s Italian adventure and our current trip. But I was pleasantly surprised by this museum. Unlike so many paintings we saw last year which had dark backgrounds and were in dark churches, these painting were bright and pleasing to the
Barrels of funBarrels of funBarrels of fun

The wine cellar tour was very interesting. Generated a great story that I can't add to a family blog.


Although we lived only 10 kilometres from the Mediterranean, we only got there three times during our stay in Montpellier. We took a tram to the end of the line then a bus along the beaches to the one we wanted to visit. Our first visit it was too cool to swim and the last visit almost too hot. But we did enjoy the strolling on the sand. There are about 20 kilometres of beaches in the area. We didn’t get to them all.

The area has many canals and while we were crossing one, Dianne noticed a mussel restaurant so, even though we had a picnic lunch, she decided it was time for mussels. We placed our order and sat back to wait. I am not a big mussel fan. I don’t even like small mussels. The server came and placed the dish between us. It was pretty good. About half-way through eating it, another server brought our order. It turned out the first server had brought the dish to the wrong table. I think I was very lucky as the dish was one covered in stuff and baked in the oven. Much better

There were too many choices in the tasting rooms
than steamed (?) mussels we had ordered. The family at the next table were happy we enjoyed them even if the dish had been meant for them!


We had passed the Opera building many times as we crisscrossed the Place del la Comédie and finally noticed the banner advertising the Puccini opera Gianni Schicchi. Although I was not familiar with this opera, we like Puccini and would really like to see the inside of the building so we booked tickets (in French). In her wisdom, Dianne researched the opera, reading the libretto and watching a version of it on YouTube. Research is a good thing.

It is a one act opera so it seemed like a lot of money for a short time. When the curtain rose, it was a modern setting (sometimes used for Gianni Schicchi a 1918 opera originally set in the 14th century). And, it seemed quite different from the stuff we saw on YouTube. Turned out it was another one act opera The Night of a Neurasthenic by Nino Rota.You knew Nino Rota as the official composer of the films of Fellini and Visconti? I certainly didn’t. According to Wikipedia, his works

The four of us has a great lunch on Bertrand's mother's terrace. Beautiful weather, lovely shade, fabulous food and wine. It doesn't get much better than this. Oh yes, we could have brought our bathing suits and had a swim in her pool!
for the cinema have eclipsed his remarkable work for the stage. But they were a mystery to me.

The second half was typical Puccini. It turned out the aria O Mio Bambino Caro (one of my favourite arias from a CD of famous arias) is from that opera. Who knew? The story is pretty funny and it really helped to have studied up on it before going. Good move, Di. Well worth the money and the opera hall was pretty interesting too.


One of the recurring comments I have heard over the years was that the French, Parisians in particular, were unfriendly and wouldn’t go out of their way to help you if you didn’t speak French. This was certainly not our experience. Everywhere we went we were met with friendly, helpful people who seemed to enjoy our attempts to speak French and find out more about their country and culture.

Back home again

We arrived home on the afternoon ferry. Plenty of time to unpack and sort out a few things before falling into bed to try to offset jet lag. Things were going well until we went up to the main floor
Tram line adventureTram line adventureTram line adventure

On one of our trips to the end of a tram line we wandered around till we found a coffee shop. Not easy to find. It was a man's stop: all men inside and no toilet seat in the washroom!
and turned on the lights. No power! Who has a power outage in the summer? Wait a minute, the lights were on downstairs. A quick check indicated a couple of breakers were flipped. Oh, Oh. One of them was the fridge. Yes, the fridge and upstairs freezer were off. What a mess, particularly in the freezer. Luckily, the power hadn’t been off for too long as the chicken pieces were just thawed, no maggots! Cleaning out the fridge and freezer were not on our "what to do list when we got home". But at least it kept us busy until it was time to hit the hay.

It’s always amazes me how fast you get back into the swing of things. Our volunteer activities have been keeping us busy, not to mention two months’ worth of gardening. But Dianne’s fertile mind is already planning our next holiday even if it might be a while in the future so this is, indeed, ToBeContinued.

Additional photos below
Photos: 24, Displayed: 24


Interesting signInteresting sign
Interesting sign

We saw this sign a couple of times near the beach. Told you what kind of attire was appropriate in the restaurants and shops in the area. International equivalent of our "No shirts, no shoes..."
Beach sceneBeach scene
Beach scene

Compared to our first beach shot from early May. Not many beachcombers then.
Dianne in the MediterraneanDianne in the Mediterranean
Dianne in the Mediterranean

Dianne loved the water. I did go in, too, but not as enthusiastically.
FISE world championshipsFISE world championships
FISE world championships

The river valley was full of these sites for bikes, roller blades and skateboards. A lot of work for a weekend event. Huge crowds.
City artCity art
City art

Another example of creative use of a blank wall.
Château de FlaugerguesChâteau de Flaugergues
Château de Flaugergues

One of the many "follies" or country houses that sprang up around Montpellier in the 1600/1700s. It took the Count 45 years to finish it! It has been in the same family since 1811.
Nice gardensNice gardens
Nice gardens

Pretty restful place. If you stand in the right place you can actually see the taller buildings in Montpellier. Must have been pretty nice to be able to "get away" to a place like this.

We chanced on a little two room museum that was set up like an old pharmacy. Just two rooms. But neat. They also made sure we were aware of the little chapel next door.
The chapel next doorThe chapel next door
The chapel next door

How many people actually find this place? No advertising that we found in our stay. Just happened to see the sign as we were walking down a side street.
Museum adventureMuseum adventure
Museum adventure

This museum (the third part of the mini-museum package) was three rooms on the third (of four) floors of an old building. Hard to find but worth it. These were the stairs leading up to it.
Sample displaySample display
Sample display

They had an unusual mix of display items but I liked this clock. Dianne took some pictures which was not allowed. The attendant covered her ears, mouth and then eyes. What she didn't see...
Musée FabreMusée Fabre
Musée Fabre

As mentioned, I wasn't too thrilled about an art museum. But this place was, in itself, pretty cool. I guess that 61.2 million euro spent on renos in 2007 were worth it!

This painting cracked me up. It was part of the display on the old Grand Tour that aristocrats took in the pre-camera days. This memento included a bunch of sights in Rome that are actually miles apart. But having seen them all, it brought back great memories.
Another great paintingAnother great painting
Another great painting

I must show this one to my dentist. One thing I loved about these paintings is that they are so bright. So many of the Italian paintings we saw were sooooo dark.
Mandatory aqueduct pictureMandatory aqueduct picture
Mandatory aqueduct picture

"Everybody" takes a picture with a aqueduct. We missed to the Pont du Gard near Nîmes so we had to make do with the very adequate aqueduct in Montpellier.
Opera boundOpera bound
Opera bound

Even though we were travelling light, Dianne managed to look pretty good for our night at the opera.

It was hard to take pictures in the opera building itself but this chandelier was pretty spectacular. We tried to imagine what it was like in the pre-electric era. Glad we weren't at Phantom of the Opera.
What more fitting way to end the tripWhat more fitting way to end the trip
What more fitting way to end the trip

On our last day in Lyon, we stopped at our favourite (in Lyon) coffee place and saw this sign. What else can I say?

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