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29 July to 6 August

29 July

Today I helped Kasey get off to the US for her week long work trip and worked on trying to book a trip with a friend from France while she was gone so that I was not sitting here the entire week. I first was trying to figure out a way to get back to the States as well to see a couple of people, however since it was August the cost of the flights back was just ridiculous. The easiest way to explain it is that the cost of 1 ticket looking to come back now was more than what we are going to pay for both of us to come back in November! So with that I changed tunes and luckily one of the people we have met since moving here had a few free days before he headed out on his August vacations as well.

After some debate and research of flights/trains and accommodations we settled on going to Montpellier for a few days next week.

30 July

Today was weird with it being a Saturday and not getting ready to do something with Kasey. Even though she was gone enjoying her time in the US there were still a few friends here in Paris not yet having left for their August vacations. With knowing that we all wouldn’t see each other for another month or so we decided to get together and go out tonight. We all first met at a place called La Javel which is a outdoor bar basically where there is a mix of food trucks, beer stands, and even a docked boat to hang out on. One of the people in our group had been there before and enjoyed so he wanted us to all see what it was about. Being an outside bar there is obviously quite a large space for people to sit or stand and on busy nights (just as tonight was) there is a parking lot next to it that the overflow crowd hangs out in.

We hung out for a few hours having some food, drinking some beer, and even some wine. Weall enjoyed the wonderful night along with celebrating it almost being August as well as two of our friends who were back to head back to the US for their wedding. As the place started to shut down around midnight (outdoor places have trouble staying open later due to noise ordinances here) we decided to head back towards the metro and one more drink at a local cafe. After one last sante (cheers) we all headed our separate ways back to our homes and one step closer to vacation.

31 July to 2 August

Over the next few days I spent a lot of time on the computer doing research as well as getting ready to head to Montpellier on Wednesday. The one thing that I really needed to do, specially with us headed away for more than half of August, was to get something that would allow us to keep our plants watered while we were gone. I headed over to Castorama on Tuesday as we had seen ceramic spikes there before they just didn’t have the ones we needed then. I was able to pick up enough for all of our different plants and now I just needed to find bottles to place in them to keep our plants watered. With being gone for only a few days I tested one type of bottle in one of the plants so we will see how it works.

3 August

Today I woke up bright and early and headed to Gare de Lyon for our 6 am train headed to Montpellier. Since the trip all the way down South is quite a long time (this was just short of 4 hours) we wanted to get down there earlier in the day so as to not waste the day being we only had 3 anyway. We arrived at the train station around 10 am and made contact with our Airbnb contact to go check in to our place. This was my first true Airbnb experience since we have been mostly using our Marriott points and perks for the rest of our trips so far. When we arrived the people that were staying there before us were not yet out so we got a set of keys from the owner and we went off to get some food and cafe.

We had about an hour and a half to kill before the people would be out, so after our cafe we went to find a grocery store in order to get some snacks and water for the next few days. We then went back to our Airbnb, checked it out and got settled in. The reason you go with Airbnb is mostly because of cost, but sometimes you get a place that isn’t great. This was one of those places as it needed some serious rehab, but again we were only staying for a few days and we didn’t plan on being there very much because we had plenty of stuff we wanted to do.

With that we changed and headed our way towards the beach. Part of the reason we chose Montpellier was because of it’s proximity to some nice beaches. Their local form of public transportation down there is mostly trams as their is not a true ‘metro’ system. The tram took us about 3/4 of the way to the beach and then from there with your train ticket you could take a free shuttle directly to the beach. So after about 40 minutes, voila, we were at the beach! This was nice for me since it had been since I believe Labor Day 2015 that I had been to the beach. Also it looks like they just finished a project of re-doing the beaches and the areas around it with dunes which gave it a very Jersey Shore feel making me feel right at home. After walking around for a little getting our bearings we were both hungry for lunch and a drink so we found a place called Le White Beach and enjoyed some food with a view.

Beautiful and relaxing
Le White Beach

After some food and a few drinks we made our way down the beach to find a place to sit and relax. It was certainly a nice way to kick off the start of vacation. The water was perfect as well. Nice and refreshing since it was hot out, but since it is the Mediterranean it was also nice and calm. There was also a nice little sand bar about 50 yards out where everyone could swim out to and stand in the water cooling down a little. After a few hours of relaxation, and of course a few more drinks at Le White Beach, it was time to head back and find a place for dinner.

Once we were back at the Airbnb we found out how interesting it was going to be to shower there. First issue that was visible from the start was headroom was going to be a problem while showering. Not that I am the world’s tallest person by any stretch of the imagination, but I was over 5′ tall which I believe would have been the requirement for showering without worrying about hitting your head. Next issue was that hot water was hard to come by. There was clearly a hot water heater by the bathroom on the wall, but figuring out the handles in order to get it to come through was another story. Luckily since we were at the beach and it was so hot out I wanted a cold shower anyway.

After our shower debacle we headed around the corner to where there was a small square and a few cafes to have some drinks before dinner. We had settled on a place called Moutarde & Wasabi for dinner which was a sushi place not far from our Airbnb that got great reviews. Mike also introduced me to an app called La Fourchette (means the fork) which is basically Open Table for Europe and run by Trip Advisor. The sushi ended up being great and a nice end to our first day in Montpellier.

4 August

Although last night was a rough night for sleep (mostly because of my sunburn, but also because it was so hot in the Airbnb) for both of us we got up relatively early and headed to the train station to pick up the car we had rented for the day. The reason we rented a car was because we had found some very cool hikes, and supposedly amazing views just North of the city. After about a 45 minute drive we arrived at the bottom of Pic Saint-Loup. We got our packs and gear ready and set off on what was described as an easy to moderate hike where the biggest issues were there wasn’t much shade, and some of the loose rocks can be tricky at times. We were well prepared for all of this and after about an hour and twenty minutes of hiking we arrived at the top very sweaty but not all that tired.

View from the parking lot at the start of the hike.
Overlooking the steep side.
Stunning views out over the entire valley.

After enjoying some time at the top and some snacks we had brought, we headed back down the mountain. Once back to the car we decided to head towards a nearby town and grab some lunch before deciding on another trail to hike. We were able to find an excellent pizzeria and enjoy some much needed carbs after a tough hike. While we were sitting there Mike was able to find another path which we were able to download onto Google maps and overlay onto my phone. With that we headed off to find the next place.

A quick 20 minute drive and we arrived at the trail head for our next hike. This hike although longer ended up being much easier. It was a mostly flat well marked trail that took you through ancient farmlands and a few small towns. It was a nice break from climbing up the mountain we had earlier and the scenery was again beautiful.

Ancient ruins dating back to 3000-4000 BC!
Overlooking vineyards with Pic Saint-Loup in the background.

After finishing up the second hike we headed back to Montpellier and the Airbnb for a much needed (unfortunately cold) shower. After getting cleaned up we headed to our favorite cafe again for some drinks before dinner. Tonight we wanted to have dinner at a place we had been looking at called Le Jack Daniels. I know it sounds ridiculous, but apparently it is one of the best restaurants in the city and it isn’t far from where we were staying. We kept trying to make reservations, but couldn’t so just decided to head over earlier to see if we could get a table. Unfortunately for us upon arrival we found the smaller sized restaurant fully booked. Oh well it happens sometimes. With that we both busted out our phones in an attempt to find a different place to eat. We decided to be a little bold and try a Moroccan place called Le Regency, however they didn’t have a reservation for another hour so we headed towards the restaurant and found a local bar to kill some time. We actually ended up finding a pretty cool place called Le Charlie’s Beer, 100% dedicated to Charlie Chaplin where they even made their own beer! After a few drinks we headed to dinner which certainly did not disappoint. I even messaged Kasey that night saying I may have fallen in love with Moroccan food! After dinner we made our way back to the Airbnb and turned in for the night thinking we were going to wake up early and go for a run around a nice park we had found that day.

5 August

Well if you couldn’t already tell from my tone at the end of yesterday that wake up early and run thing never happened ha. We both might have slept worse tonight than the previous night. Mine was again mostly from the sunburn which was on my shoulders and right side of my upper back, but now we also had bug bites everywhere all over us since we had to leave the windows open at night with how hot it was and it had rained last night. So instead of that run we started getting our stuff packed up to head out. After a quick breakfast at what has turned into our favorite cafe we finished our packing and cleaned up our Airbnb so it was as we left it and headed up towards the train station. Since our train didn’t leave until 5:30 this afternoon the nice thing about most stations here in Europe is they have lockers where you can keep your stuff for a nominal fee so you do not have to drag it around all day. 
Now it was time to explore the actually city today since we had spent the prior two days outside of it. We first headed on a tram over towards Jardin des plantes (garden of plants), and then made our way back through the city walking. Making our way past a few more gardens as well as a mini version of the Arc de Triomphe and some beautiful churches as usual.
Mini Arc de Triomphe with cathedral in background.
The cathedral through the streets.

By now it was time for lunch so we found a cafe and sat down for some food and drinks to relax a little. After lunch we went to find some postcards that Mike wanted and a post office so we could get stamps to send them as Mike was headed quickly out of town once we were back in Paris. After getting that all squared away we made our way back towards the train station by way of a few cafes along the way. We enjoyed the beautiful weather and some drinks at 2 more cafes before we made it back to the train station with quick stop at Nabab Kebab for some excellent kebab’s for our 4 hour train ride home.

The train left just before 5:30 right on time and by 9:00 pm we were finally back in Paris. Said goodbye to Mike (since with his vacation and then work travel we wouldn’t be seeing him again until mid September) and with a quick subway ride home I was finally able to see Kasey again for the first time in what felt like forever!

– Jeremy

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