Friday, August 6, 2010
Day twelve - Montpellier and Sete
Montpellier is the regional capital as well as being a university town with the western world's oldest medical schoool. So we thought it worth a visit and got up extra early so as to get there at a reasonable hour.It's not actually that far from Herepian to Montpellier; but we lost half an hour taking the wrong route out of town, got stuck in another little traffic jam in Bedarieux, and of the course the traffic coming into Montpellier itself was slow. So it was 11 am before we were enjoying a desperately overdue coffee on a leafy square just inside the old city. It is a beautiful city and we must go back but on this particular day we weren't inspired to stay for long.
We are still trying to explore the Lj anguedoc seaside and decided to head a just a little south of Montpellier to visit a series of beaches along a narrow stretch of land separated from the mainland by beautiful lagoons or "etangs." There was not as much of the tackier seaside features we had seen elsewhere and we did find some sections that we could imagine staying in but overall it was much too busy for our tastes. We continued south to the fishing port of Sete and spent some time wandering up and down the dock areas watching some very large trawlers returning to port. This is the kind of place were you could sit at a dockside restaurant looking across to the boat that had perhaps delivered your dinner that same day! But it was a little early for that and so we headed off. Sete is a fascinating place, especially if you enjoy watching working boats coming and going. But it was also very busy and we were happy to move on.
El's navigation skills were once again 'formidable' in getting us across country to Pezenas, a lovely place we had visited before and a perfect place to stop for dinner. We wandered around the old town until we found the same little bistro we had lunched in before and were happy to eat there again. El had gazpacho and I had a huge salad. Despite all the temptations we are getting our eating habits back on track.
We zoomed home on more of France's beautifully engineered and maintained roads. At first a fading purple twilight silhouetted the distant hills. Darkness descended and we saw only the ghostly forms of the plane trees that line the roads in many places, picked out by our headlights as we sped along.