Tuesday, 23 October 2012

A BlogFeast in Montpellier

Last Saturday, Hubby and I rocketed west for three hours along a smooth as silk motorway to Montpellier, a popular university town in the bountiful Languedoc region of France for a special occasion.  You've got to love French motorways.  The tolls are high but they're worth every centime.

Bloggers extraordinaire, Heather of Lost in Arles and Aiden of  Conjugating Irregular Verbs invited me to join them and a group of talented English speaking expat bloggers for lunch Code word:  BlogFeast 2012.

Our lunch in Montpellier made me think about blogger and grateful house guest, Wijnand Boon.
This summer, Heather and I each hosted Wijnand who is walking 6,000 miles across the world with one mission: to prove that the internet is a tool for bringing people together and not the predator-ridden trap it's depicted as.  If there were any occasion to prove his point, our lunch was it.

Here we were, a diverse group of bloggers from the United States, Australia, Canada, and Britain, all gathered together, and we all had some things in common:  we'd all pitched our tents in France, we were living the joys and frustrations of life away from our home countries, and we'd met each other through our blogs.  How cool is that?

Place de la Comédie
The big lunch was slated for Chez Boris, a restaurant in the town centre apparently known for it's high quality beef.  Affixed to the wall outside, above the entrance to the restaurant, were plaques proclaiming the quality of their beef and the napkins at everyone's place setting was a butcher's diagram of a cow.  As a vegetarian I felt a bit like a spy inside a meat eater's secret clubhouse.  As I always say, one thing I enjoy about blogging is that it brings me to places where I wouldn't normally tread!  Thankfully, our thoughtful hostess, Aiden, arranged veggie options which were delicious and appreciated.

The lunch was a fabulous occasion.  As with any happy get together, we were a loud and animated bunch and I kept thinking that at any minute, someone would to come over to our table and tell us to keep it down.  Thank goodness they didn't.

Ceilings and wall of Chez Boris, where we lunched, covered in chalk art

My practical and curious side wished the lunch had been a sort of speed dating situation so I could have chatted with everyone, face to face, and leisurely learned their stories.  After all, there's only so much you can learn from a quick, 3 hour lunch.

After all the other diners had left and the staff was about to flip the chairs onto the tables, we took the hint and spilled out onto the street to say our goodbyes.

I left our boisterous get together with the spark of a promising new friendship and a bit of a sore throat from yelling to converse but it was worth every minute.

For the rest of the day, Hubby and I took to the streets to explore.  Modern city planners could learn a lot from Montpellier.

Tight rope walkers in the park.  I tried it.  It's hard.
Most of the down town core is a vibrant, prosperous, pedestrian-only haven making it a real pleasure to wander around without being restricted like cattle to a narrow side walk with cars whizzing around us.

The epicentre of the action is the architecturally stunning Place de la Comédie where the buzz reminded me a bit of Amsterdam where cyclists and pedestrians whiz around each other in relative harmony.
There were people everywhere.  Some of them were snacking and enjoying drinks while they people watched from the side walk cafés.  Others were strolling in the bright sunshine, perusing the scarves, purses and belts on offer in the goods market.  In one corner there was a beautiful, ornate, two storey carousel with smiling parents watching as their children went up and down and 'round and 'round.  It was a timeless scene that could have taken place a hundred years ago except for the multi-coloured tram cars that rumbled by on the periphery.

A mix of 17th and 20th century architecture
Away from the hub bub of the Place de la Comédie, we meandered through cobblestone streets to discover charming cafés, restaurants, boutiques and galleries.  It was a good visit to an interesting and welcoming city worthy of a return visit.

I can hardly wait for next year's BlogFeast.  Until then I'll be devouring new posts from everyone's blog.

Here's an idea for the BlogFeast suggestion box.  Next time, can we make our lunch just a little bit longer?

Graffiti carved into an ancient stone wall
Strange graffiti

The 18th century Saint Clément Aqueduct
Fifth Element inspired gallery exhibit
Street music
Four floors of graffiti

Groovy tram cars
Last but not least, a camouflaged cat


meredith said...

Your photos are wonderful. I wish we'd talked more. Next time I hope :)

Sarah said...

Great set of photos. I'm glad you enjoyed your trip to Montpellier. It certainly is a lovely city and has a lot to see.

Hopefully we'll be able to chat more next time. :)

Lost in Provence said...

Oh this made me so happy, every last bit of it! I need to go back and look at all of the photos again because really you do have a fantastic eye--and a wonderful heart. :)

And now it is my turn to ask: I wonder what kind of shoes were sold in that store so many years ago? It looks like a portal to another dimension!

Off to the Wednesday market, I wish you were here...

Jennifer F said...

Ditto, your photos are divine!! I love some of your close ups! I too, wish we could have talked more...yes, a version of speed dating format would be nice at these luncheons. Perhaps a suggestion at the next blogfeast would be to switch around after the main course - so we could spend dessert and coffee getting to know the "other end of the table". Anyway, enjoying your blog and it was wonderful to meet you both!

Gustia said...

You're brilliant! The old switcheroo after the main course is a great idea. Maybe a quick game of musical chairs? It was great meeting you too. To bad we didn't get the chance to yell over lunch.

Gustia said...

Yes, more time travel shoes that need to be investigated. My guess is that they are practical. Let's plan an "Aix" meeting when the trains are running again.

Lost in Provence said...

Yippeee! But if we find another time travel shoe store in Aix, I will start to get nervous...

[colleen] said...

I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with you at the luncheon! It has been so long since I'd had such good conversation (in English no less!) And of course, I also enjoy the photos...will be sharing them with my family back home so they can take a sneak peek :)