Montpellier Courtyard

If you walk the narrow streets of villages and cities throughout France you notice doorways that lead to courtyards. As residents open the doors to the street I would get a glimpse of the courtyard beyond. In a few places like this there is public access, as it leads to a restaurant. These remind me of scenes from movies, but in fact they’re quite normal for folks who live in European city centers. Here I am looking straight up and wondering what it must be like to live here.

By the Fountain

One of the best places to stand if you want to watch the world go by is by a central fountain in a european city. I stood in front of La fontaine des Trois Grâces in the center of Montpellier and no matter which way I looked there was something to watch. Sometimes quick, sometimes slow, but a lot of activity on all sides. Next time I should just stand there all day, stopping only for the occasional cappuccino and croissant.

Palavas Harbor

The harbors along the French Mediterranean are full of sailboats. This is in Palavas but in another town further south we watched children learning to sail on rough seas which I though was pretty amazing. But that probably explains why so many people along the coast love to sail. This is just a small section of the harbor, there were many hundreds of boats moored here, many more than I’m used to seeing in our small Florida harbors. This was the scene as the sun set last week and I walked along the docks taking it all in.

Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert

This is a small village in southern France that has maintained its medieval state through the centuries. In one section I notice construction on a home, the builder was building walls of stone as perhaps no differently than ages ago. It’s nestled in a gorge along a river which was nothing more than a stream when I took this. It was incredible walking through the narrow streets and it was easy to imagine I had been transported back in time.

Cloudy Beach at Dawn

Its safe to say the beach was quite deserted this morning at dawn when I showed up to get a few pictures. This is in Carnon along the Mediterranean in the south of France. But, just like back home in Florida, there are still people showing up to walk or run the shoreline. As well there were a few fishermen plying their trade. Some things, regardless of the location, seem to be universal. Beaches are places were people come to play or work along the shore.

Carrières de Lumières

Les Baux de Provence is the location of an ancient limestone quarry where stones were cut for the construction of castles and nearby villages. It resulted in an enormous cavern which today has been transformed in to a venue for a fantastic multimedia light show known as Carrières de Lumières. This is an image I took from the show which featured works of the Renaissance masters set to a dramatic soundtrack. It’s a stunning immersive experience and one that moved me profoundly. If you’re in the area you really should check this out.

La Grande-Motte

The town of La Grande-Motte sits along the Mediterranean. All of the buildings were designed by a single architect and convey harmony with the sea and mediterranean sensibilities. I walked around one morning just observing the architecture and sense of theme.

Cerbère, France

We took the coastal route down the southern end of France. It winded in and out of small fishing villages and switch backed over peaks until we entered Spain. I could easily take a week to explore this region but on this day we were driving to Barcelona. Nonetheless I stopped here just outside of Cerbère which is the last village before entering Spain. Just off camera on the left is a parking space and vista along the side of the road where RVs stop for the night. Not a bad place to stay for the night.

Palavas Flamingos

South of Montpellier are swamps in which Flamingos have settled by the thousands. The waters are full of shrimp and other foods preferred by these feathered comedians. There is a highway that runs between Carnon and Palavas and through a swamp where these Flamingos are feeding or sleeping on one leg. This was taken just after sunset one evening as the birds were looking for their final meal before calling it a day.

Palavas

This little costal town along the French mediterranean has a harbor, restaurants, shops and miles of beaches. It’s no wonder the population grows from eight thousand to one hundred thousand in the summer. It reminds me a little bit of my home in Florida, though only a little. The mediterranean culture and French sensibilities are what make this a unique destination for european vacationers. I was fortunate enough to be here in October when the streets were relatively empty and we could just walk into any restaurant without a wait. For me the experience was indeed unique.