Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Mommy in Montpellier -- The Final Leg

Mardi, 19 novembre.

On Monday morning, after a fabulous weekend in Lyon, we headed back to the sunshine and warmth of the South of France. As you can see, I was a little tuckered out on the train back!

Mommy loves public transportation. Me? Not quite so convinced.

Still, after a few days spent exploring in the Alps, it was nice to be back in the land of constant sunshine. We did a little bit of walking around before checking into our third and final apartment of the trip.

The view from our third and final apartment. Wow!
After dropping our bags off, we decided to make one last little trip. After all, thanks to all of our train travelling, Mommy had already seen the Alps, the hillsides in the east, and the countryside in South (or, as we like to call it, Texas). But there was still a major geographical area missing -- the ocean. So we hopped on a quick local train to Sète, a port town on the Mediterrean Sea that's only a couple of kilometres away from Montpellier. It's a huge resort town during the summer, but -- as we quickly discovered -- is beautiful to visit year-round!

There's nothing crazier than walking around with a coat on in November ... and seeing palm trees!

The city, which I imagine is absolutely packed with tourists and vacationers during the summer months, was practically abandoned. It was sort of nice to walk through the streets and get a chance to really see everything. I loved some of the city's beautiful old buildings! 

Mommy couldn't get enough of the wrought iron balconies. But seriously, how cool are they?!

So you're probably going to hate me for this, but I figured now would be a good time to let you know that Sète has a pretty interesting nickname. Because of its canals, it's known as the "Venice of Languedoc." Yep. Another one. First Luxembourg, then Bruges, then Annecy ... and now this. (What can I say? I guess I just really like canals.) The canals, however, really were beautiful. We couldn't believe the number of boats -- and this was the off-season!

In search of lunch, we stumbled across what has got to be the cutest cookie shop of all time: La Biscuiterie. (Remember, in French un biscuit is a cookie!) Maybe it was the adorable window display. Or the rows upon rows of differently-flavored Madeleines. Maybe it was the wall full of cookies and caramels. Or maybe -- honestly -- it was just the amazing color scheme.

Either way, I fell head over heels in love with this adorable little shop! Although I couldn't bring myself to drop the serious cash needed to purchase a box of cookies or cakes, I did invest in a little metal tin that matched the adorable colors of the store. If I come back to Sète with friends sometime this semester, I'll be sure to return and show them this adorable place!

As we ate lunch in a nearby square, I decided to feed the pigeons crumbs of our sandwiches. It wasn't the brightest idea I've ever had and led to a special segment of this blog post that I'd like to call "When Pigeons Attack." Just kidding -- nobody was hurt in Sète! But it was pretty hilarious to watch them follow us.

After lunch, we decided we would try to find the ocean! It couldn't be far, we reasoned, and we were right. Here's the view from the Vieux Port.

The road we were walking around had a pretty steep hll, so we stopped for a breather at a bench whose location I found convenient ... but a little strange. Then we sat down and looked out at the view and suddenly, I understand exactly why somebody'd had the bright idea to install a rest stop. I mean, there are worse spots to sit, right?


The view from further up the hill was even better, as we made it to a rocky outcrop that overlooked the water. That's the Mediterannean, as far as the eye can see! After several days of clouds and rains, the perfectly clear view was so lovely that I couldn't help but take a million pictures.

I got a kick out of telling Mommy that if she squinted hard enough, she could see Africa! (Not true. Although I do think there are some points in Spain from which you can see the coast of Morocco, which is mega cool.)


We kept saying how easy it would be to stay in Sète  all day and just stare at the water. (If only it weren't so cold out now, I'd totally take a book and go spend an afternoon in that same spot!) All too soon, it was time to head home. But not before we stopped for a little ice cream!

Once back in Montpellier, we weren't feeling much like going out. Instead, we stopped at the store, where we stocked up on some essentials -- soup, bread, cheese, and wine. It made for quite the delicious dinner!

Tuesday, Mommy's last full day in France, was a little bit more laid back. In fact, it was the only day that I didn't force that poor woman on either a plane or train! Instead of jetting around, we spent some time relaxing in Montpellier ... looking at books in Gilbert Joseph, stocking up on French specialities to bring back in Carrefour, and -- of course -- eating lunch. And I'm not going to lie, for somebody accustomed to heating up soup and splitting sandwiches, it was pretty nice eating lunch from a place that actually gives you a check at the end of the meal! 

That night, we went over to my host family's house for dinner. We communicated in an interesting mix of French and English and I had a lot of fun! Mommy even got to see my bedroom. 

As for dinner itself, my host mom served pot au feu -- a traditional French stew that looks suspiciously like a recipe that a certain grandmother of mine has been making for decades. ("Bloxam stew," anyone?) But dinner was delicious and there were only a few minor hiccups. (Like when my host mom said, while serving the meal, "Hmm ... it looks like the meat could have cooked a little longer. Maybe two or three more hours." Wait, what?!) We even had little cakes for dessert ... yum!

The next morning, we woke up and had one final delicious breakfast of vienoisseries before it was time for Mommy to head to the airport and for me to head back to real life (read: class). She had a beautiful sunrise sendoff!

It was tough to say goodbye and I really wish that she'd been able to stay for longer. Still, just under a week was the perfect amount of time for us to explore some beautiful parts of France that we'd never before seen. With the exception of Montpellier itself, everything we saw was new to me too! And I loved every little minute of it (with the exception of the minutes during which I was oh so very cold -- those were terrible). I truly enjoyed exploring Lyon, thought Perouges was a beautiful trip back in time, and definitely count Annecy as among the most beautiful places I've ever seen.

And I loved doing all of that with my mom! We've done a little adventuring, just the two of us, but this was definitely our biggest trip together yet. (Well, with the exception of a couple flights to and from Korea back in the day, I guess.) I realized that there are some benefits to travelling with a real live adult as opposed to another cash-strapped college student -- although we didn't ever drop a ton of money on a fancy four-course dinner, it was nice to eat a couple of real sit-down meals in real sit-down restaurants.

Want to see a look back at our whole trip? Check out this interactive map. You can click on most of the different sites we visited to see pictures and learn more! But as always, if you have any questions about something we saw or did or ate, feel free to comment below this (or any) post.


  1. Aw, I'm teary again, just like that last moment before I left you. I'm sorry I didn't realize you were as cold as your were. You are such a trooper, never complaining! Bless you heart!

  2. Oh, and that meal we had at the outdoor cafe was so yummy! After talking to Daddy about your dessert, I figure it was probably creme caramel and not creme brulee since it wasn't crusty on top.

    Loved every second of being with you!

  3. Have scarves, will travel shall be you all's new motto. Loved all these stories.