So this week I had to go to Montpellier. I don’t know much about the city. The area I stayed in was brand new, very Vegas-ey. Kinda chintzy with shiny new buildings awkwardly emulating ideas of grandeur.
I spend all evening walking about, and the old city is much more to my liking. I didn’t take a single picture. But it’s all old plazas and buildings, with cafes and whatnot. Very very pleasant. Pretty young and vibrant artsy city from what I can see.
At least I’m next to the canal, it helps a bit with the heat. On my way even at 140kph on the highway, I could feel the air was hot. And once in the city … I remembered how much of a nightmare the 1098 is in these conditions. Every traffic light, the seat becomes a toaster oven. After a mere 15mins of city traffic I get to the hotel, and I’m sweating like a pig. Stupid bike. Mind you, it was 33 degrees.
Morning, got stuff to do. Alarm 7am. I’m up before sunrise? Suddenly feel like a real man. I may or may not have stood there shouting “rise before me, my son, riiiiiiise!”
Stuff done, time to visit the area a bit. I want to see Camargue a bit. The area is famous for its small white horses and big black bulls. No corrida for me, though. Don’t like that.
On the way, I ride by the super touristy Grande Motte. It’s a lot of beach, and a lot of hotel. But it smells like pine. I like that.
Camargue! Right, it’s marshes. I forgot about that. It smells like marshes. Also, pink flamecos!
Why are they pink? That’s why. Not photoshopped. The water was damn pink. No idea why.
I also passed by these. They look very similar to snow piles we have in Montreal. Except it’s salt. A lot of salt.
In the distance, the city of Aigues Mortes appears. Big fortified walls and all. But so touristy and organized I just don’t feel like stopping for pics of the ancient walls.
I keep on going, towards city center. A sign appears. Interesting. Is it today?
Now before you get all excited, this isn’t a Pamplona style bull run. Camargue is about both the horses and the bulls. It’s called a manade (french word, no idea if there’s an english equivalent) andif done right, you have a handful of bulls contained by badass horses and their riders forming a moving circle. It’s very very impressive, actually.
Now don’t think this is somewhere in a random field. That’s central plaza. Streets are closed off with 6ft tall steel bar walls, you can see them in the distance. Although I like to think it looks like a zombie area closed off. Ah!
People can (and do) walk between the bars. It’s only hitting me now that I did like everyone else. I walked into a bull cage, of my own free will. Great.
Actually, I lived in the area as a kid (couple years old) and I do remember these. Way cool.
Right, so I’m in the bull “cage”. The announcer is following the bulls “and they’re coming to blablablah street, and now to some other street”. And here they come. The intensity is almost overwhelming, as the horses are constantly pressed against each other, keeping the bulls in control in a horse-sized bee swarm. I saw the bulls’ legs, I assume the rest of the animal was on top of them legs.
After several groups go by, I decide to take off. I have things to do, I’m on holiday you know!
It was easier said than done. French cities are already a mess on a normal day, now imagine with the main street closed off. One ways, delivery trucks, people … I end up riding the wrong way on the sidewalk for a while. And people don’t even mind.
Next stop is the obvious one for a mid-october day. The beach. It is 26 degrees after all.
I think I know where this leads to.
This looks like an alright spot for a nap. And to your dirty minds, I had planned it all, had jeans for the ride (not tooooo squiddly) and swimtrunks for the beach.
And the sea. It wasn’t very warm, I will admit.
That nap was great. Waking up at 7am is unusual for a holidayer like myself.
Heading back home. I opt out of the boring highway, and go for the backcountry instead. Yeah, it’s quite alright.
It’s all complete with picturesque hillside villages.
I keep pushing on, and as I take a small shortcut through the mountains … road closed! Argh! There’s a paper on it that I don’t read. Eh, I’m on a bike, I can probably sneak through. Let’s see what this is all about.
A nice lady comes up, I can’t really hear what she’s saying with the earplugs on. Take 2. Citroen Sport. Testing the DS3 for WRC. Whaaaaaaaaaaat. Can I take pictures? Sure, just be careful where he turns around *she points at huge skidmarks on the tarmac. Yeah, not getting anywhere near that.
Now that’s a road closure I can get behind.
This also means this road is as good as I think it is.
As they put the car on stands for some checkups, they wave us through. “The course is 4km, don’t stop or loiter about, we can’t have other people on the road during the tests. Go go go.” Yeah, I don’t want to be run over by a rally car, thank you. Unfortunately, he screwed it all up by throwing debris all over the place. Carefulness.
We’re through the testing section. It’s pretty. I take a picture.
And another. I’m sorry to say the pic doesn’t do reality justice. It looked better. You all missed out. Sucks for you.
Getting to the viewpoint. It’s surprisingly windy, and chilly. From 30 down by the sea just a couple hours ago, I’m now seeing 11 on the dash! I love brisk mountain air.
It warms up again as I make my way back to Carcassonne. Long day. This is when I wish I was riding a Goldwing. When the roads are rough and I just want to get home … it’s impossible to relax on the 1098.
Oh well, the views are still alright.