When my grandpa’s friends asked me to come and spend sometime in their place in south France, I couldn’t believe I would eventually really go. Here I am in sunny charming Montpellier. Is this dream? How can I be so lucky?
I didn’t do a lot of planning before leaving my home behind. In the early morning one hour time left I still had things to do and back. The feeling of traveling never come across my brains. Traveling is the only way I truly feel like living. The feeling of freedom and unknown paths is my home. So here I am and this is the first part of my travel diary.
Day 1: Lost in train stations
Finland is amazing country to live in but there is one big flaw. The airport isn’t located anywhere near my city.
So in the early Sunday morning I woke up at three am after sleeping only four hours. My mum then drove me to bus station in the city next to us. (I’m sorry mum you had to do that so early).
After two and half long hours in bus I was ready to embarrass myself at airport. Like usually I went in wrong line and then the security check machine beeped for me. I’m starting to think I’m made of iron… How can it give the alarm for me every freaking time??
The whole airplane was packed and when choosing my place I took the last window seat. It was quite funny that at my six people row everyone were lonely travelers.
The guy next to me read book about growing puppy and beside him sat Japanese guy who had a lot of snacks with him. We didn’t really talk but they smiled nicely to me and the Japanese boy said goodbye when we departed.
The flight was normal and everything was good. Well if we don’t mention the horrible weather… It was snowing a whole night before and it didn’t end even when it was time to fly. I was scared to death.
The conditions in France were totally different. Sun was shining and I had to abandon my leather jacket. For locals the feather seemed cold but for me it reminded Finnish summer.
Montpellier charmed me starting from the first seconds. There was beautiful old buildings, graffiti and sunset.
The older madams (let’s call them S and L) who had invited me welcomed me with hugs and smiles. Together we continued the trip to their apartment. We used tram and let me say I have never seen that kind of public transport. The trams were all colorful and different. So cool!
Day 2: Fascinating older Montpellier
The first morning rose cloudy but still almost 20*C warmer than Finland. S and L were still sleeping and I had time to admire the scenery outside of my window. Not much to see but still different than I have got used to. Heck there was palm trees in this city! Those would never survive in Finland.
After a while all three of us ate french breakfast. There was so much food I was sure eating later on that day would be impossible (I was totally wrong).
Quickly after that I was dragged to the tram and towards to the mystical old streets of Montpellier. The first thing I learned was how everything is closed at Mondays. That however didn’t matter because we just walked around and even found small restaurant open.
The second thing I learned from my lovely companions was only order well done steak (rather not even that). Apparently french people like their meat red and bloody or it’s not tasty. I’m of course just joking… (or am I?) Well just remember kids never order medium steak in french. Of course if you like your food a little bit raw don’t listen to my advice.
After eating and wandering around more I had to admit being tired. So we headed back to home. And I just need to add that I get amazed easily but I totally fell in love with the local tram network. Firstly who doesn’t like the bright colorful trams??! And secondly only 6 euros for 5 persons to use all the trams and buses 24 hours! In Finland I pay 5 euros to go one trip…
Day 3: Road trip time!
I only had four days with my amazing hosts -and their car- so we decided to do day trip. After we left the sunny Montpellier behind us I quickly come to the realization this day wasn’t going to be some kind of short visit. No, the lovely madams had planned full day road trip around the Mediterranean coast. We left home when sun was rising and got back after dark.
Our first stop was Mèze 40km to west from Montpellier. The city seemed more like ghost down this time of the year. According to my all knowing guides all of the too many restaurants filled up in summer time. I liked it more when I couldn’t see any people. Like peace had taken over this little town.What I did see a lot in this town was seafood. Farther away you could see the frames where locals farm oysters.
After the calming city we continued our travel towards Sète. However without reading the map our trip went trough several other smaller cities. If you ever have car, time and just happen to be in south France good entertainment would be just driving from city to city. Everyone of them has something different to offer and oh my goodness how beautiful the small roads inside towns can be.
So finally we arrived at Sète and drove around to see what it was like. Canals covering the city layout made using car kind of hard. However I have always liked water and bridges so Sète made good first impression on me.
As first thing we tried to find place to eat and there was a lot of options even if it’s not the tourist season. As not french speaking persons we didn’t get so kind service and the waiter “forgot” us often. But the meal and dessert overrun all my expectations.
The most amazing thing I recommend to do in this small city is visit the Paul Valéry Museum and cemetery next to it. You have to walk up the mountain but visiting there is worth it. The museum has really succeeded in the presentation of the art works. It was delight to my eyes.
Our last thing to do before leaving Sète behind us was visit in the viewpoint in the highest point of the mountain. Looking from the sky this city seemed even more idyllic and full of adventures. In addition to the view there was small chapel with lovely atmosphere.
Our next destination was Palavas and it’s endless beach. The drive there showed me the coast and small towns. And of course something I didn’t expect! Flamingos! Flamingos living in wild. Pink cute and gorgeous flamingos. It was my first tie seeing them and that literally made my day perfect. I would have drove to the Palavas just to see those amazing birds. Unfortunately I didn’t get pic of them. 😦
Finally in Palavas the sun has already setting down. That didn’t prevent me hunting seashells between the sand and stones. I love pretty things… We spend sometime there just enjoying the last warms of day and looking the sea. Then I thought it would be time to go back home but the madams S and L still had one place for us to go.
L drove in the darkening evening and I got to admire even more of the France’s coast. In fading sunlight everything seemed so different. After a not so long drive we found ourselves in this odd futuristic city. La Grande Motte’s buildings rise towards sky in different architectural forms.
My attention quickly turned from structures to the clouds. Sun has already set but it’s last remaining lights reflected from clouds. S and L took me to walk around the harbor and promenade. If I would decide my every evening should end like that. Like I said I love pretty and beautiful things. I love everything that takes my breath away.
After the darkness had taken over we returned to car and started the travel back home. That night I fell asleep smiling.
You can read the part 2 from HERE