On the Friday morning that I was due to leave for my weekend away, Florence woke up with a temperature and my jaunt to the South of France seemed doomed. All was not lost however as my mother's sixth sense had caused me to book the more expensive train ticket, changeable right up to the minute of departure and I had followed Kirsty's advice to book the hotel through Bookings.com which also allows free last minute cancellations. Half an hour on the computer and I had rearranged my trip to start on the 8:06 out of Gare de Lyon on Saturday morning when Daddy would be home all day to look after the girls.
It's an easy three and a half hours on the train from Paris to Montpellier so I was there in plenty of time for lunch at Chez Boris where I was reunited with Kirsty and Jennifer who I've met before in real life and met Aidan, Karen, Julie, Sarah, Heather, Jennifer, Abby, Meredith and Colleen for the first time. With Florence continuing to be sick all last week, I'm late to the party in posting about the lunch, but Kirsty captured the event perfectly and her photos came out much better than mine! Suffice to say I had a wonderful time and four hours never passed so quickly. It was such a treat to have been included and it was a pleasure to meet so many lovely ladies and hear about all their different yet similar experiences of living in France.
That evening after everyone else had gone home I went out by myself to find dinner. Montpellier is a university town and has a lively nightlife. I wasn't entirely comfortable being out on my own (which made me glad I hadn't also spent Friday night there alone as originally planned) and after a simple dinner I headed off for an early night.
I stayed in the Hotel Eurociel which just opened this year and was well reviewed as a place to stay for lone travellers. It was clean and comfortable and just a few minutes walk from Place de la Comédie, Montpellier's centre. Each floor was named after a different European country. I was on the Greek floor in the Kos bedroom. The next morning as I checked out I noticed that in addition to London, Cardiff and a few other well known British cities one of the rooms on the British floor was named Jersey. If I ever go back I will have to request that room and I'm sure I'll feel right at home!
At the lunch, Kirsty had tried to persuade me to get up at the crack of dawn on Sunday to make the most of the light to better photograph historic Montpellier. Having had to get up before sunrise the day before to make my early train, I didn't quite fancy another pre-dawn alarm, but I did get going quite early to explore the city by day. I set out to the sounds of church bells ringing for morning mass.
In the daylight I could relax and admire it's faded charm and gorgeous details.
I arrived in Place de la Comédie just in time for the start of the Montpellier marathon.
And sat down for breakfast and a spot of people watching.
All the shops were shut which certainly saved me some money, but I wish I had found this lovely little mercerie 'Before & After' on Saturday.
Look at those gorgeous buttons!
Sunday morning mass was nearly over in this nineteenth century church built along the route of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela.