Day 1,561 of Traveling the World | Montpellier, France | May 12, 2022

A funny thing happened on the way to relaxing in Montpellier. We spent four hours on a train from Genoa, changing trains in Marseille, and decided we would check in upon arrival (scheduled for 1:03) and have a leisurely lunch, since we had left early and only had coffee. It sounded so simple, way back then – yesterday morning. Our six-minute walk from the train station was, uh, a bit longer, as there is a fence across the street we needed to turn on. Instead, they made us walk UP 25 steps with all of our luggage, only to walk DOWN all those steps on the other side. We arrived at our hotel tired from traveling, eager to dump our stuff, get into the city, and eat something. The hotel had emailed us the day before, asking what time we would arrive at the hotel. How nice! Except that, upon entering and chatting with Simon, the owner, he said we did NOT have a reservation! We showed him our “guaranteed room,” and he said no, it wasn’t in his system. We said that this had happened to us 10 years ago or so, in Krakow. Our reservation went into a subdirectory that they never looked at, and they had no rooms available, so they called the nicest hotel in the city, got us a room for exactly the same price, and called a taxi to take us there! Simon looked at us, startled, and said that every hotel was sold out in this area of the city. He didn’t have much hope for finding us a room, and called several hotels in the area, with no luck.

Finally, he came back to us with a solution. His parents have a guest apartment two blocks from the hotel, and they were fine with us using it…he just needed to call a service to get it cleaned and freshened. If we could wait until 4:00 pm or so? Well, we really didn’t have a choice. He suggested a place where we could have lunch and hang out a while, and we had a fantastic lunch. Our apartment has a full kitchen, dining area, living room, two bedrooms, bathroom, and a washer/dryer. The Wi-Fi is fast! It is super-quiet, as only Simon’s parents live on our floor, next door. We went to the grocery store up the street and had fresh homemade omelets with veggies and salmon for breakfast! It was quite wonderful. So, a good moral to our story to remember – things work out for the better. We didn’t get what we wanted and planned while we were on the train, but we have some added advantages now, and actually got something better.

On to this beautiful city! It was fairly busy. Looking for a room for us, Simon remarked that it was especially busy for early May. People were out enjoying the warmth and sunshine. Our suspicion is that most places will be very busy this summer, as everyone is so happy that everything is open again after more than two years of staying home and being ultra-cautious. The city has many labyrinthian streets teeming with shops and cafes. The Botanical Gardens were quite busy, as well. It is free admission, but the glorious thing was, no car or tram sounds could be heard, even though it is located on a busy boulevard. It was pure bliss.

Montpellier has its own, older, Arc de Triomphe, along with beautiful public parks and plazas. We are still weaning ourselves from Italian phrases and trying to remember “please,” “hello,” and “thank you” in French, instead. Everyone has been very nice, trying to speak to us in English. We should be in Germany about the time we are used to using our meager French. After that we will be in Britain and we will probably be stuttering through several languages for a while before we get any English out. But we all understand each other, eventually.

Tomorrow, we pick up a car for a while, so we no longer will have to conform to train and bus schedules, early in the morning, wearing masks for hours. It will be very freeing!

Montpellier’s own Arc de Triomphe, dating to 1691. In contrast, the more famous one in Paris dates to 1836, which means Montpellier’s is 145 years older.
This beautiful, columned building is the Court of Appeal, adjacent to the Arc de Triomphe.
A triple hit! The Court of Appeal on the left, with the Arc de Triomphe on the right. Sandwiched in between is Montpellier Cathedral.
The Aqueduc Saint Clement, completed in 1765 to bring water to the city. Check out all those arches! It is dizzying.
We thought this was such a pretty scene! This is in the Jardin des Plantes, the Botanical Gardens. The rusting structure provides a focal point for the lake, the lily pads, and all the pretty flowers, trees, and vegetation.
In the Botanical Gardens is a forest of bamboo! It reminded us of the Bamboo Forest we visited in Kyoto, Japan.
This starburst-looking green plant was too cute!
The Promenade du Peyrou, a beautiful, peaceful park just across from the Arc de Triomphe. People were sitting on the benches and walls, having lunch, drinking coffee, and just chatting and enjoying the cool air atop the hill. We did the same!
Chateau d’eau du Peyrou, a pretty structure in the Promenade. We climbed the stairs you see, and that is where we got the photo of the aqueduct, which runs out from this building.
The famous carousel on the Place de La Comedie. Every business here had “Comedie” in their name, since it evokes F – U – N!!!
The Place de la Comedie. Walking through Montpellier, we saw several buildings with black domes, just like this one.
Sidewalk sale! – just like when we were growing up! Every shop had merchandise outside on tables. For a Thursday, the crowds made it quite busy.
On this pretty and warm day, the crowds were out, enjoying the shady trees and open-air restaurants like these. It looks very French, no?
This is all trompe d’oeil – the building is painted to resemble balconies and windows, but they just ain’t there, folks.
This is the Rue de Maguelone, where our apartment is located. The trams run all over all the streets, and have priority. Of course, on every pedestrian walkway, there are cars, trucks, trams, scooters, motorcycles, and bicycles riding up behind you and then honking loudly! They startled us quite a few times.
France, birthplace of Macron! Well, yes, that’s true, as he is the President of France, but we think we meant macarons, shown here!
Princess Tam Tam? Sounds like a Disney movie heroine.
We liked how happy this boy looked, way up high in a window overlooking the Place de la Comedie!
“Panse d’Agneau” – Sheep belly. We saw this from down the hall and somehow thought it was a doll hanging from a hook. We then found out the name of the store was Tripes de Food – tripe to eat. It looks somewhat like a chamois cloth for washing your car.
Now, wait. This isn’t right, is it? Protecting your nose from Covid while contaminating your lungs with cigarette smoke and leaving a Covid opening hole over your mouth? It all seems so counterproductive and…wrong!