Yesterday the weather promised clouds and a spark of sunshine. We had agreed to go cycling with some friends down to Palavas les Flots. Palavas is a modest seaside town of no architectural distinction except ugliness, but you can cycle to it from Lattes just south of Montpellier along the banks of the River Lez and then along designated cycle paths. The route takes you through the wetlands that stretch from Lattes and Perols to the sea, an area declared part of the Natura 2000 ecological network of protected areas in the EU. It is home to 72 species of bird including flamingoes, and a number of lagoons covering 75% of the 847 hectares that make up Palavas.
This is the path at the start, at Lattes, looking south. It's recently been renovated to bolster the banks of the river. Our friends live just off to the left.
I was on the bridge which crosses the Rhone to Sète canal to take this photo. The white apartment blocks of Carnon are in the distance. You can see the étangs (lagoons) to right and left of the canal; the sea is off to the right on the other side of another strip of land (covered in ugly houses). You can walk or cycle from Carnon to Frontignan along the canal.
|Looking east towards Carnon|
|Looking west towards Villeneuve les Maguelone|
We reached the sea in about 25 minutes, an autumnal sea of waves and gentle light. You can't appreciate the size of the waves in this picture, I think I caught them too early/late, but, for the Mediterranean they were a good size and crashed with a satisfactory show of spray. The coast here is protected by barriers to make swimming safe, and to preserve the sandy beaches. Sea paddling seemed to very popular yesterday, there were lots of people just standing about on the sea chatting by the look of things.
Jeanne d'Arc au Bucher, an oratorio by Arthur Honegger.
|Wetlands with flamingoes in the middle distance|
As the clouds decided to make a return, we headed off back to Lattes, passing over the Rhone-Sète canal again where we saw that a couple of paddlers had strayed from the coast for a canal stroll.
You might not be able to fly directly to Rome or the US from Montpellier, but it does have many other, less frenetic attractions, as I think you'll agree.