Eglise La Madeleine
Bruce in the place de la Madeleine
We just arrived home from 2 night (3 days) in the Languedoc-Roussillon, a region in south central france, it's actually just next to our region the Midi-Pyrenees. We went for 2 reasons. The first was to check out hotels and map out the rides for the tour we are doing in July, through our new business Two Wheels Good Tours and the second was in search of a bit of sun and warmer weather. We accomplished both!
It's only 3 hours south of us and a lovely drive. You can take 2 ways, one takes you east and then south through Millau (over the beautiful viaduct) and the second takes you west to Toulouse and then south. We took the first way down and the second way home. It was crazy, about 2 hours into the drive the weather was different and so was the landscape. Gone were the gorges, big hills, deep valleys, green green everywhere Aveyron, we were now into more brownish scrub landscape, but it was also beautiful. And the sun, there is was, smiling at us so strong that for the first time in a long time had to put on our sunglasses. Ah..la soleil. We also haven't seen the ocean in 4 1/2 months, something we took for granted in Los Angeles (we basically road along the pacific ocean 4-5 times a week). When we turned a corner and saw the Mediterranean it took my breath away. I didn't realize how much I missed the sea. We stayed in Béziers, a small city just south of Montpellier. We chose Béziers because during the tour de france, one day will be a time trial in Montpellier and then second day the race will go through Béziers and head south towards Perpignan. It's about 1 hour south of Montpellier and we loved it, perfect location.
We stayed in a lovely 15 room boutique hotel, the same one we will stay when we do our tour. It's quaint, clean, beautifully decorated, across from the lovely Parc des Poetes and centrally located but not on a busy street. The owners are lovely too and have been very accommodating for our july tour. We took the dogs with us, but B&A babysat the chickens and Maillot, well I built a shelter for her and left her plenty of food and water, she's a cat, a stray cat, so I knew she'd be fine for 2 nights outside. We arrived and saddled up the dogs and went for a long walk around the city, stopped and had some coffee and chocolate chaud and planned our next couple days. It was a Monday, so most restaurants were closed. We ended up eating at the brasserie down the street and had an excellent dinner (sometimes they surprise you).
Parc des Poetes
The next day we hopped in the car and headed towards Montpellier, but we couldn't take the autoroute - - no no, because we needed to find a good route for bikes. For our July trip we'll be biking up to Montpellier. We found a beautiful route with views of the Pyrenees, the sea and many wineries. When we got into Montpellier we headed for place de la comédie, which is a big open square with loads of restaurants, a park, the office tourism, stores, the opera etc...it is where the team time trial for the tour de france will start. We had some lunch walked around a bit and then headed back to Béziers.
La Opera at place de la comédie
place de la comédie
The next day we had to find a route from Béziers south towards Perpignan, so back in the car we went searching for smaller roads. I must say, it's exhausting trying to read the map in the car, my eyes were spinning by the end. But we found another amazing route that's we'll do the 3rd day. We also stopped to visit the Canal du Midi and the Écluses de Fonseranes, where you have to "help yourself" to 7 locks to get up/down the river. It was amazing to watch this huge barge navigate into the lock, with only a couple inches left on each side. There is also a lovely bike path that starts in Béziers and follows the Canal du Midi all the way to Toulouse. It could be a perfect ride on the first day.
huge barge going into one of the écluses
the water came rushing out and the boat rose so fast
Before dinner we went to Les Chameau Ivre a Bar a vins just down the street from our hotel. It was really nice and their wines were amazing. Great selection of tapas too. We have already decided to bring our friends K&E to Béziers for 1 night when they come and visit in July, because K would so love this place. We had dinner at Le Patio and I went with a pasta dish that I thought was vegetarian, but when it was put in front of me realize it was some type of seafood. What though....when we came home realized it was cuttlefish "seiche" in french. Non mon favori!
I really liked Montpellier and would love to spend more time there and Béziers was lovely as well. We had good weather and it was nice to get away. We didn't have to make a fire for 3 days and I must say, it was wonderful. The hotel was cozy warm and the bed so so comfortable. It was a great trip. We will be going back in April or May so that we can actually ride the routes we have mapped out. Want to make sure they are good and that we know them well. We'll also be visiting Andorra and the Pyrenees so we can ride the routes there too. Ben our business partner already went there last week to check out the hotels, so that's taken care of and there is only 1 route into Andorra and then we'll be doing one of the great climbs "Col du tourmalet" in the Pyrenees, so we don't need to map out routes there, but we do want to ride them before our trip.
So now we are back in the Aveyron and guess what...it's raining! argh. I guess that is why this area is so lovely and green in the spring/summer. I must say we are both missing sunny Béziers, but Maillot is one happy cat, laying in front of the fire right now.