23 July 2007

The tour de France came through Montpellier this week. We watched it the first day in Lansargues which is a small village near us. The next day it began in the center of Montpellier. We watched the publicity caravan from the street and the actual race from my office which is on the third floor of a building near the archway that looks like the Arc de Triumphe.

The publicity caravan is actually the most entertaining part of the experience for us. The sponsors each have a vehicle decorated from which they throw things at you...key rings, bags, hats, coupons, water bottles, etc. The people in the village were waging a glorious battle for the possession of these trinkets...while the citizens of Montpellier stood dignified as the loot rained down on them. Needless to say, we dove for it both times and came away victorious with a bag full of stuff we will now pitch.

Balade de Degustation

While Mary and Jeff were visiting us, we signed up for a Balade de Degustation. These are somewhat serious hikes while tasting and eating through a six course meal. They are offered by the different regions to exhibit their wines. This one offered SEVENTY wines to accompany the food courses! I would have to guess that Mike tasted just about all of them. It was a very sunny and warm day and the hike was a tad more than a stroll. We meandered through the hilly vineyards and did a fairly good job at not stumbling over the extremely rocky terrain. We all voted that the entree course of a typical Languedoc gazpacho was our favorite...pureed eggplant resting under a herby tomato layer. Not the peppery type we were expecting. It is definitely an experience we will repeat at least once each summer in a different terroir each time.

21 July 2007

Des Soldes

The bi-annual sales in France began in the beginning of July and last through August 15th. The first week was absolutely mad in Montpellier. The day before the sales begin, the intense shoppers go out and try on everything they want to buy, place it strategically on the rack and return the next morning at 8 am sharp to buy! The picture above of the people in line is interesting because this is at noon. This shop sells sandwiches to go. On a normal day, you would only see a small line of at most two or three people. The French treat lunch as a religious affair...lounging under cafe umbrellas for a two or three course meal with wine and a coffee. The to-go shops did a killing during the first week of the sales.

01 July 2007

A Day at the Beach

After having mediocre weather and the pool not warm enough to swim in due to windy nights, we decided to hit the beach as my niece, Mayra, had not been there yet. It was a beautiful day and the beach was just crowded enough to be interesting. The girls buried each other in the sand as I meditated on the benefits of doing absolutely nothing.

The beignet seller has been our favorite for all of the three summers that we have gone to this beach. He is Monsieur Personality!! (See our past blogs on the beach for more!) Yesterday, he told us that his sons speak multiple languages and one is studying International Relations and is on a foreign study in Australia and the other is studying in Canada! The stories behind the ordinary people you meet are just so interesting!

On the Town

We tried a new apero bar/discotheque this weekend with our friends Alain and Sylvie, Bruno and Ariel. The French definitely put a lot of effort and design into their discos...and they will dance all night! This one is mostly outside with a pool. It was such a cool place. The bar boy's shirt even lit up after dark!

After a couple of rounds and needing more sustenance to absorb it, we took off for an impromptu late night meal at Bruno and Ariel's house. We drove home past the disco at 1am and two parking lots were absolutely completely packed with people still poring in. Clubbing is definitely a side of life here that we have yet to master. I just can't do the dance all night and sleep all day.