Tuesday, August 30, 2022

An Afternoon at the Montpellier Zoo

After a day of bicycling to the beach for great sights and a fabulous lunch, the next day we head to the northern part of Montpellier and visit the zoo.  The Montpellier Zoo is the largest park in Montpellier and holds over 1,350 animals in 52 enclosures, many of them the largest in Europe.

We are welcomed to the zoo by bright birds in a cage at the entrance.

Welcome to our zoo

We enter and wander.

Residents at the zoo

The paths wind through the zoo with large enclosures arranged around the 80 hectare (184 acre) site.  Scattered among the enclosures are metal and wood statues of animals, some actually in the zoo, some not.


Soon we return to the entrance and say goodbye to the colorful birds that greeted us.  It's been a great way to spend an afternoon and see the animals relaxing in the warm Mediterranean weather.

Thank you for visiting

Friday, August 26, 2022

Back in Montpellier, Biking to the Beach (Again)

We're back in Montpellier for the last few days of our trip and ride bicycles to the Mediterranean again.  Arriving at the beach, we ride along the sea by the towns of Palavas-les-Flots and Carnon, about 30 minutes from Montpellier by bicycle.

Along the sea

Riding though Carnon, we find a windsurfing and sailing school active in the harbor.

Windsurfing and sailing

Outside the harbor, the beach extends to Palavas to the west and to La Grande Motte to the east.

Beach in all directions

Along the beach, people are sitting, enjoying lunch, and watching the sea and the water sports.  We pedal over to Palavas-les-Flots and find our own restaurant on the sea, L'Albatros, for lunch:  fish of the day (we vaguely remember it might be John Dory) and a Japanese salad which turns out to be assorted sashimi.

Lunch at l'Albatros

Biking back through Palavas, we ride along the harbor and, in the center of town, turn inland on the bike path to Montpellier along the canals and the river Lez.

Palavas harbor

We pass one of our favorite sights:  the pink flamingos (flamants roses) hanging out in the lagoons above Palavas.

Flamants roses

What a great bike ride and a great way to spend the day.

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

La Vrai Bouillabaisse de Marseille

It's Marseille and we must have bouillabaisse!  We search through the recommendations and make a reservation at Chez Fonfon in the nearby small fishing village of Vallon des Auffes, where we had walked earlier in the day.  Chez Fonfon has been serving local seafood and bouillabaisse since 1952.

Fishing and eating in Vallon des Auffes

Chez Fonfon

We start with a small amuse bouche, while our waiter shows us the fish that will be in our bouillabaisse.  The fish may vary by day, "whatever happens to wander into the net" that morning.  A typical assortment might be monkfish, scorpion fish, John Dory, and conger eel.

Starter to tease us

Our fish

View from our table

Bouillabaisse was originally a stew made by Marseille fishermen from the rockfish which they were unable to sell to restaurants or markets.  Today's bouillabaisse is five kinds of fish served with a broth and a rouille (a mayonnaise made of olive oil, garlic, saffron, and cayenne pepper) and grilled slices of bread.

Our fish served

With the broth

And the rouille and bread

The fish and bread with rouille are soaked in the hot sauce, which is continuously refilled, and eaten until one can eat no more!

Dining in process

After our bouillabaisse, we walk back along the coast and through the old port, watching the sun set on the water, the port, and the city.  What a great end to a great day and an incredible meal!

Sunset over the Mediterranean and the old port

And, a stop in the old port for one last drink of the evening, treating ourselves once more today.

Final stop today