Friday, July 28, 2023

Biking to Palavas-les-Flots

Back in Montpellier, the next day we rent bicycles at Ville & Vélo to travel the short 10 km (6.2 miles) to Palavas-les-Flots on the Mediterranean.  The path follows the River Lez with a scenic journey through fields and along the banks of the river.

Along the River Lez

We see flocks of wild flamingos, which always delight us (and all the other tourists) and everyone stops to take pictures.

Flamingos hanging out

Just before Palavas-les-Flots, we turn right along a canal, following a new route (new to us) that leads toward Maguelone Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul de Maguelone) which is located on an isthmus near the Mediterranean.  Built in the 11th century, much of the cathedral main building remains for us to explore.

Along the canal

Passing a digger reinforcing the dike

More flamingos

Houseboats on the canal

Vineyards surrounding the cathedral

Archaeological excavations in the 1960s discovered the foundations of a church destroyed in the 7th century on the site of the cathedral.  The Visgoths took over the Maguelone region in the 5th century, after the fall of the Roma Empire and Christianity spread in the area, with a bishop established on the island in 533.

Approaching the cathedral

Sky above the cathedral

Inside the cathedral

View of the cathedral on the isthmus

From the cathedral, we bicycle a short distance to the Mediterranean and then continue along the beaches toward Palavas-les-Flots

Stopping to admire the beaches

Soon, the beaches start to enter the city and we ride along the boardwalk toward the center of town.

Along the beach toward town

Sky above the beaches

Arriving at the harbor

After all the riding, we're thinking about lunch and find a restaurant on the harbor where we and enjoy mussels and seafood salad and some sharing with the local wildlife.

Mussels, seafood salad

Local interest in our meal

View from our table

After lunch, we bike from the harbor through Palavas-les-Flots toward the River Lez and Montpellier, admiring the views of the fishing boats tied up in the harbor and the scenic beauy of the town.

Ships and harbor in Palavas-les-Flots

On our way out of town, we pass more flocks of flamingos and can't resist a few more pictures.

More flamingos in the wild

What a great bike ride, exploration, and lunch!

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Wandering Some More in Avignon

From the square outside the palace, we follow a side street to another large square outside the Opera House, with entertainment, restaurants, bars, and people relaxing and enjoying themselves.

Outside the palace

Chickens roasting in the passageway

In the square in front of the opera

Returning to the square in front of Palais des Papes, we pass throught the square and continue walking toward the river on our way to Le Pont d'Avignon (Pont Saint-Bénézet), a bridge across the Rhône first build between 1177 and 1185.  The initial bridge was destroyed in 1226, rebuilt in 1234 and abandoned in the mid-17th century as the arches tended to collapse every time the river flooded, making maintanence rather expensive.  However, four arches (of the original 22) remain and we walk out over them.  The Rhône is the most powerful and fastest river in France and is a formidable natural element.

At the entrance to the bridge, several displays memorialize the famous children's song Sur le Pont d'Avignon, describing a dance performed under the bridge dating back to the 15th century.

Returning to the square

Along the city walls to Pont d'Avignon

Pont d'Avignon

Sur le Pont d'Avignon

View up and down the Rhône

Back at the city walls, we get more great views of the bridge and the river.

Walking outside the city walls

Returning through the wall into the city, we continue to wander the streets, generally in the direction of the train station.

Back through the city

Wandering the side streets

And passing out through the city walls to the train staion

We hop on our train and head back to Montpellier, after a terriffic day in Avignon, a town that surprised us with how much we liked it.  We'll have to return!