Sunday, 30 November 2008

La Chapelle et le petit coin

From the summit of Mont Saint-Clair you could see much of my previous description in the background; - such as the St. Louis lighthouse on the breakwater, Le Canal-Royal, Bateaux de Pêche Industrielle, Une partie des quais du Port de Commerce.

But for now, - we are visiting the Chapelle de Notre Dame de la Salette, and some other "petit coin" !

Next:- It's Time for Dinner on the Quai du Général Durand.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Sète : at sunset : au coucher du soleil

From Palavas-les-Flots, and with much excitement Marie lead us further south to Sète.
We were truly on a mission - and things were flying !
Well, the silver car was flying and so was I.

At Frontignan we crossed the canal which traverses the coastal lakes; one could say, "a waterway within a waterway".

Sète, which was called Cette until 1927, is the eastern starting point of the Canal du Midi (1681), to Toulouse and Bordeaux, and the end point of the Canal du Rhône.
The town is built on and around Mont St Clair and is situated on the south-east side of the Étang de Thau, an enclosed salt water lake brimming with oyster and mussel fields.
The Étang de Thau is the largest of a string of lakes that stretch along the Languedoc-Roussillon coast from the Rhône River to the foothills of the Pyrenees, bordering Spain and is the second largest lake in France.

Gliding along la Route de Balaruc we approached the canal one last time and crossed the tilting bridge leading to the old city with is gorgeous canals and the towering Mont St Clair in the background.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Partout, des hommes français portent des maillots de bain bleu foncé

Palavas changed it's name in 1928 after it was "floated" as the the main town in its local commune (in 1850).

Perhaps, a little play-on-words and perhaps dead true.
That's history for you.

Thus, as the crow flies, (or the fly crows), Palavas-les-Flots est une station balnéaire située à environ 6 km à vol d'oiseau au sud du centre de Montpellier, au bord du golfe du Lion et de la mer Méditerranée.

France is so varied and beautiful, yet everywhere one looks, men wear navy swimming trunks, or so it seems from my photos. Can't say I noticed at the time !

Très bientôt vous aurez faim. Pensez juste aux POISSONS !

Thursday, 27 November 2008

La Société Nationale de Sauvetage en Mer

At the port township of Palavas-les-Flots, the girls sought ice-creams and I sought a job.

La Société Nationale de Sauvetage en Mer (SNSM) looked like a good place to start and all I had to do was re-sit my boat driver's licence, learn technical French fluently and remember the sun was in the southern hemisphere !!

Perhaps a bit more salt water was called for.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Il n'y avait aucune puanteur ici, - au contraire

Last year and at about this same time, Marie took some friends who were visiting Montpellier, on a bicycle tour around the beautiful coastal lagoons where we were currently exploring.

"We went to Palavas les Flots." Marie explained on her blog, "Palavas derives its name from "pue la vase" (stinks of silt). Of course, it does not stink any longer!"

Well, as far as I could smell, the whole of France was pretty damn splendid and I was yet to be bothered by a smell or two.

We would save that for the fish wharves at Sète a little later in the day.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

L'intérieur de la Cathédrale

Here are some interior photos of the Cathédrale of Maguelone.

Unfortunately the roof was not open to the public on the day we visited, unlike the day Marie and her friends had been there.

On her post of Monday 24 Sept 2007, she said, "I participated in a "feminist" meeting (Citoyennes Maintenant) at the Cathédrale de Maguelonne, along the sea (and to tell the truth, close to a nude beach!). We were allowed on the roof of the cathedral. The view was fabulous."

We were having a ball in the South of France and we just felt so privileged to be escorted autour de la place by Marie.

Without further ado, our next stop was the port of Palavas-les-Flots and then Sète and Mont Saint-Clair.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Je le sais très très bien ! Suite

While the interior of the Cathédrale, tomorrow, was easier to photograph, the exterior was limited as the surrounding trees were so close.

But don't think this is near the end of the day, - the game had only just started.

There are bigger fishes to catch. The South of France really has something for everyone and you're quite likely to see 'everyone', right here.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Je le sais très très bien !

With one resolve satisfied, mais avec les cheveux encore humides, it was now time to investigate la Cathédrale and to re-live the experiences that Marie had enjoyed there, so many months ago.

Here, in the middle ages, it was "Occitan" that was spoken, (ou langue d’oc ), so you can see where the name of la région Languedoc-Roussillon has come from. Just read the sign above. Perhaps Marie will translate it for us; it's not really too difficult.

We spent a wonderful hour enjoying this lovely old Romanesque church - in the Southern-France warmth, that Marie and her fellow Montpelliérains had given us.

Maybe you can see from these photos and of course, from those to come, how France, bewitches and enchants the Aussie mind ?

Perhaps this will never be erased.

Je le sais très, très bien !

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Oceans and Cathedrals : and Perfection

With eager thoughts of finally arriving on the Mediterranean shores of our beloved France, we were thrilled to see Marie arrive at the Kyriad Hotel early next morning.

So much planning had preceded our meeting and I had been worried that she may not have returned from the USA in time for our visit.

Marie had a twinkle in her eye which could only mean mischief.

We set out for the coast and the wonderful Monument historique, la Cathédrale Saint-Pierre at Maguelone.
I had been looking forward to this day for months after Marie's wonderful photos from its roof, on Montpellier Daily Photo.

Approaching our destination and winding through the coastal lakes beside the shoreline we came to the long and sunny beach at Palavas-les-Flots.

It was here that I first understood the twinkle in the eyes of a French girl !

Friday, 21 November 2008

Le nouveau Montpellier

L'esplanade de l'Europe (quartier Antigone) on the side of the River Lez is a huge amphitheatre of greenery constructed at the end of 70's.
It was a joy to walk in to the place and feel the same axes found in Paris and Versailles. One is instantly oriented.

The atmosphere was soothing and spacious, with lawns and paving set out carefully and harmoniously, leading down to the Avenue du Pirée and the Lez.

The modern architecture surrounding this verdant esplanade, was grandiose and sparkling and the numerous excellent restaurants and bars were tempting to any one whether tourist or local.

An early night was called for, after the drive from Millau.
Tomorrow we would be meeting Marie and who knew what mischief would lie ahead !

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Marie, Moses and Montpellier (et Démosthène)

Marie's Montpellier had long held a distinct fascination for me with it's old city, it's 20th century architecture, expansive public spaces and of course it's Alstom Citadis trams. The joy of photo-blogging was soon to become the joy of meeting.

The river Lez from its headwaters to Antigone, and then to the sea had become a familiar, old friend through the lovely photos that Marie had so often shown us.

We had seen photos of the powerful and compact eleventh century Romanesque cathedral of Saint-Pierre de Maguelone and the beach and sand dunes extending a dozen kilometres from Palavas-les-Flots to Frontignan-Plage.

Arriving in Montpellier was akin to visiting an old friend after a prolonged absence.

One phone call to announce our arrival, a short walk to the Médiathèque Émile Zola, a quick chat to Michelangelo's Moses (Moïse, Moyses, משה, Moché) and our old friend Démosthène, the Greek Statesman and Orator, - and we were hungry.
Après une très longue attente, nous sommes arrivés, finalement à Montpellier!

Wednesday, 19 November 2008


Pendant les quatorze derniers jours, mon Internet Service Provider a détruit mon connexion d'Internet.
Il a été finalement restauré.

Je voudrais que vous sachiez que je vous offre tout, mes excuses plus sincères pour vous ignorer et pour être incapable de laisser des messages sur tous vos blogs.
Je prie que vous me pardonnerez et que vous m'aimerez un peu plus chaque jour.
Je suis désolé que vous croyiez que je vous avais tous abandonnés.
Vous êtes tous mes magnifiques amis et mon coeur est penaud.
Demain, je continuerai à vous montrer le plaisir que la France m'a donné.
Nous visiterons Montpellier et verrons la ville merveilleuse de Marie, et sa mer méditerranéenne douce et calmante.

Aujourd'hui, je vous montre Moïse qui se repose hors du côté la belle Médiathèque Centrale Emile Zola sur le boulevard de l'Aéroport International, à la quartier Antigone, Montpellier.

Je sais bien que c'est l'un des lieux préférés de Marie.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Usine de traitement des eaux usées de Millau

Wherever one travels in the world, an attraction that goes unnoticed is the local sewage treatment works.

With such a fragile environment to protect, the placid and clean River Tarn in Millau would not be fit for recreational and agricultural purposes without this white house nestled in the lovely river valley.

However, as of 2004, in the U.S, 850 billion gallons of raw sewage have been dumped into waterways every year. (Wiki Sara).

With the White House there, about to see a new changing of the guard, these French 'bassins utilisés dans la usine de traitement des eaux usées', hold a slightly greater fascination for me and have produced a better result in creating harmony and joy among those who depend on it.

La Maison Blanche de Millau may soon employ l'homme avec les cheveux blancs ?