Montpellier July 16th

Trip Start Jun 24, 2008
Trip End Aug 28, 2008

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Greoux-les-Bain to Montpellier July 16
We decided to have breakfast in town, sat down at some table in the sun, turned out they didn't do breakfast, only coffee, but that was not a problem, we were just told we could get bread from the bakery on the other side of the road. Bought 4 lovely croissants for only 3 Euros.
We headed of  on the D82 towards Manosque a rather industrialise town, but id did have some nice tree lined streets. The countryside, looked very fertile with lots of different cereals growing. Rolling countryside, harvest had started and there were hay bales in many of the fields. We took the D907, and D100 (N100) through Cereste and Apt towards Roussillion. Apt was quite pretty, with lots of flower baskets, and little bridges over the river with even more flowers. The had used most of the river bed for parking. There were some light cloud today but temperatures still in the high 20th.
The drive took us through some pine forest which reminded me of Sweden, but instead of Granit rocks there were lovely glimpses of the red clay the area is famous for.
Peter and I had been to Roussillion about15 years ago, and while the town itself probably hadn't changed, the amount of people certainly had. Last time we parked on the main square.  There was still parking there, but it was full, the had made a new pay parking area a little up the hill. Where there was also a viewing area and information on the high quality occra they get from the area. We were going to walk along the red cliffs as we did last time but now they want money for it. So we opted for a walk through town. Good choice, it's beautiful with the lovely buildings in many shades of red. Saw quite a few groups of painters around the place.
From Roussillion we headed along the D2 to Gordes and other old favourite of ours. More grapes growing here, and the roads were lined with the local stone walls, everything were build of theses stones. The winding road up to Gordes with the castle at the summit was just as beautiful as we remembered. Jan-Erik even managed to stop in one place so we could quickly take a couple of photos. We thought the car behind us would be upset, but he took the opportunity to do the same.
This time there was a pay park at the bottom of town, no more parking at the square. We tried to find the place at the square where we had eaten lunch last time, but didn't find it till after we had eaten, that was actually O.K because a meal similar to what I remembered was now 44.00 Euros. We did find a lovely little reasonably priced place, where the boys had ribs and Gerda and I ravioli in a gorgonzola sauce.
We drove towards Tarascon on the D2, quite a few apple orchards and lots of grapes, we bypassed Avignon and Arles heading for the Camarque, where we wanted to see the flamingos and white horses. We had been told not to take the main roads but the smaller roads through Camarque, getting on to the small roads were a bit of a problem and we got lost a couple of times. Our 'lady' had some ideas and we had some other ones most of them wrong.
Well we finally found the roads we were after. Peter and I had been to Camarque before and knew what to expect, lots of flat boring grass land. Gerda and Jan-Erik had expected something more exciting. The Camarque is vast and barren, they get salt from there. We did eventually see a few flamingos, and soon, lots of them, not very close up as they stayed well out in the very shallow lake, but at least we saw them, and some white horses too, not wild, but at least horses the area is famous for.
I do love the way you keep seeing old castles and churches in the distance as you drive through France. After Aguis Morte the grape growing really increased, it was a bit like Blenheim without the hills in the distance. Grapes everywhere. They grow them a lot shorter that we do, and most without any support. The leaves look big and lush. We also saw a few sunflower fields, but the flowers were past their best bloom. The flowering season only lasts a couple of weeks.
We stopped at one of the vineyards and bought a few bottles. They sold lots of other things too. If you bought your own container you could buy wine for 1.50 Euro per liter.
Next stop Montpellier, where we planned to overnight. Peter and I were there 5 years ago and really liked the town. As we drove into town looking for the information, we saw the hotel we stayed at last time, which had been nice and reasonable. Most streets in Montpellier are one way, so we had to do a large circle before we got back to it. They could fit us in 73.00 Euros per room and 8 Euros for secure parking. They still had us on the computer, told me were last there 30 May 2003.
After a quick tidy up we walked towards the centre of town through the very wide walking area. Which we had so much liked last time, lots of people walking, little restaurants, fountains and flanked by nice apartments. At the end of the mall we walked through a shopping mall and out onto Place Comedia. A lovely large square surrounded by beautiful old buildings. The modern rail runs through it. We spent some time admiring it all and then headed down one of the side streets looking for dinner, we bypassed the place we ate last time ( a mistake) and settled on a nice looking Italian place. Gerda's Prawn salad wasn't very good, and my duck was very tough. Jan-Erik's 3 cheese pizza was good as was Peter's beef kebabs.
We watched some of the street performers up on the square after dinner and then caught the rail home.
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