October 27 – November 1
Time shifting again, we pick up from our November 18, 2017 post which saw us leaving Toulouse, France after completing the Camino de Santiago and spending almost a ten days backtracking through Astorga, Leon, Burgos, and Bilbao. Blog followers will recall that during our last night in Toulouse:
“I began to experience significant pain in my lower jaw, radiating up through the canine tooth on the left side. I had to sleep sitting up and took a couple of Tylenol/Codeine tablets to mitigate the pain. I did get some sleep and it seemed marginally better the next morning for our 31.80 Euro Flixbus ride to Montpellier. We stopped at a bakery on the way to the metro and picked up a sandwich for the bus trip, having learned the hard way that one must be prepared.”
Four hours later we arrived in Montpellier and Francois met us at the bus terminal which coincidentally was the last stop on the Blue Line. We’d depart from here in a couple of weeks by Flix Bus for our final stop of the trip, Barcelona and the flight home. We arrived back at the condo and hung out for a few hours before heading into the center of town for beers and food at the Beehive.
My mouth and jaw were really starting to hurt by this time, so it was and would be, a subdued night and weekend. As we were tucking into our food and beers an acquaintance of Francois, Guillaume Kilian, stopped by the table to say hello and as he is a dentist, we asked him about the pain I was experiencing. He said it could be an infection, that he would be at his office the next day and would schedule an appointment to exam me in the following week.
The next day Francois called Guillaume and confirmed an appointment for Tuesday and was advised since my condition sounded like an infection that I should start taking the antibiotics we had brought with us (left over from Joanna’s oral surgery earlier in the year). We laid low that day and finally went out on Sunday for another walking tour of Montpellier.
We started out from our usual spot, the tram station at Comide and walked over to the large downtown mall, Centre Commercial Le Polygone. We’d visit this mall a few times over the course of our stay; malls are the same throughout the world, this one no different than the ones we know at home.
We walked to the River Lez passing through two buildings side by side, the site of FISE Montpellier (Festival International des Sports Extrêmes), home to an annual competition of several extreme sports (roller, BMX, skateboard, mountain bike, wakeboard, scooter).
Competitions are open to amateur and professional athletes. Created in 1997, more than 500 000 people descend on Montpellier to attend the event.
On the way back to the condo we stopped in at the Beehive for a beer; it had become our go-to bar in Montpellier. The owner as well as some regulars, one a Welsh expat, had gotten to know us after just a few visits and we just generally felt welcomed. By late Sunday the antibiotics were beginning to take effect and the pain was diminishing, slow progress I could live with.
Our plan for Monday the 30th, mine and Joanna’s 35th wedding anniversary, was to take a day trip out to Le Grande Motte, a commune in the Hérault département, for some beers at the beach, and then visit the walled city of Aigues-Mortes.
Built in the 1960s and 1970s. La Grande-Motte is characterized by homogeneous architecture; many of the prominent buildings are pyramidal in form and with 2 million tourists per year it is one of the favorite resorts of the French.
The architect of the project, Jean Balladur, drew inspiration from pre-Columbian pyramids such as Teotihuacan, Mexico and from modernist architecture in Brazil, especially the work of architect Oscar Niemeyer.
Balladur imagined a green city with parking no more than 600 meters away from the beach to allow visitors to walk there, but keeping all development away from the beach itself. The project incorporates large open spaces surrounding the main buildings with plentiful squares, parks and sports and leisure facilities
We walked up and down the beach, over some dunes to the ocean, and then backtracked to a café with outdoor seating where we spent a leisurely hour or two, sipping on Belgian Dubbels and being a part of, and observing, the scene on the boardwalk. It was a gorgeous day with moderate temperatures, perhaps the last we would see that trip, and big blue skies.
We finished up our beers and making our way back to the car drove the short distance to Aigues Mortes, parking outside its immense city walls. We’ll finish up the rest of the day in our next post. Until then, pour another Dubbel, sit back, and enjoy the day.
Centre Commercial Le Polygone: http://www.polygone.com/
FISE Montpellier: http://www.fise.fr/en
Le Grande-Motte: https://www.france-voyage.com/tourism/grande-motte-1006.htm