Travel day to Montpellier

Today we farewell our lovely hosts and head east to cover 465km to Montpellier. The weather is perfect for travel 14C and overcast predicted to maybe rain a bit. We ask the GPS to keep us off paying autoroutes so as to keep the day scenic. This means an extra hour and a half gets added to the journey.

The variety of scenery that we cross is incredible for really not that much distance covered. We start with a belt of wine growing rolling hills which gradually convert to steep cliffs. Of course as soon as one comes across a nice hill with a flat top it is a perfect spot to build a chateau.

We have now crossed out of Lot-de -Garonne into the Dordogne. This area was hotly contested during the 100 year war with the English and I find it interesting that although the English lost in the Middle Ages they have come back now in peace and are gradually are  buying up big chunks of the Dordogne as retirement locations.

We come across lots of small shops filled with regional specialties and foi gras du canard (duck) or d’oie ( goose) is a real specialty of the area. This specialty  is just the relevant birds liver with some pepper cooked minimally. There are of course lots cheeses with brebis (sheep) cheese making an appearance and the prerequisite confit the canard, more duck squashed into a glass jar with a lot of duck fat and juices.

The river Dordogne has carved out spectacular scenery in this area and there are  impossibly perched cities, carved into the hills. Some of the homes literally just a window opening in the rock.

One of the cities Beynac et Cazenac in the Dordogne we drive through has a beautiful flow to it that André captures in black and white. We get pretty heavy rain and then just as we are due to come out of the mountains more sunshine to show of the view coming into Montpellier.

On the way down we also encounter this amazing feat of engineering cutting a freeway across the valley.

Montpellier surprises us on many fronts, our wonderful belle GPS guides us through the maze of one way streets from the Middle Ages and delivers us to a typical French hotel. Hotel du Parc is within walking distance to the historical centre of town and just breaths the Renaissance with the way it has kept its character. It has been in the same family since it was built, initially a home and now a hotel.

Our little terrace looks out on a wall with a beautiful trompe l’oeil of a blue sky and puffy clouds. The hotel courtyard’s tree growing at its base completes the view.

This is a university city and as we search for a restaurant we see no tourists just lots of Uni students. How refreshing to feel the local atmosphere. It is a long weekend , Monday will be armistice day and clearly it is time to play and have a nice wine for the students. We have some crepes with forest mushrooms for André and honey, walnuts and chèvre ( goat cheese) for me , we feel we are joining in the atmosphere.

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