Cruise Day 4: Today, D and I will be exploring a country we never even had on our travel radar. Ever since we booked this cruise and started researching the ports of call we'd be hitting, Montenegro has grown to be one of the stops I'm most looking forward to exploring! Kotor is nestled into a bay that our cruise ship will have to slowly float through narrow waterways to get to. Apparently it's one of the highlights of the entire cruise as it's reminiscent of floating through the Norwegian fjords. Needless to say, I'll be up early on our balcony with my camera poised and ready to snap away. Fingers crossed for some gorgeous weather! While I'm soaking in all the beauty of Montenegro, I've got Anna here to share some of her favorite things about her current host city of Montpellier, France.
Take it away, Anna!
Take it away, Anna!
Hi everyone, I’m Anna and I blog over at Eat, See, Do. It seemed appropriate for a guest post on Casey’s blog, to write about our own road less travelled, from our comfortable lives in London to a little known city in the South of France. Last year my fiancé and I quit our jobs, travelled for six months, and then decided to settle in France for a bit. We contemplated Paris, but decided it was too much like London. We thought about picking a tiny village somewhere and decided it would be too difficult to meet people. So instead, we moved to Montpellier, a sunny vibrant town, France’s eighth city, and the capital of France's Languedoc Roussillon region. Most people haven’t heard all that much about this part of France. They would have heard of Nice and Cannes and Provence, but the Languedoc-Roussillon is a bit of a hidden gem.
In the time we've spent there here are my five absolute favourite things to do in the area:
1. Bargain-hunting at the markets
Markets are everywhere, from fruit markets to book markets, to my personal favourite, flea markets. Our little flat is filled with brilliant and bizarre purchases from flea markets - from a bargain 1euro rolling pin to some sort of water flask from world war 2. While markets in some of the more tourist-heavy parts of France, and certainly in Paris, hike up their prices, down here they don't. Spending half an hour on a Sunday rustling through the markets is sure to throw up some treasures.
2. Big long beautiful walks
Step out of the city and the Languedoc Roussillon has stunning landscapes. Field after field of grapevines, the sea on one side and rocky hills on the other. Sometimes we plan our hikes, and sometimes we just start walking and keep going without realising we're climbing towards the ruin of a monastery on a hill, in ballerina pumps. Well me anyway, not him.
3. Strolling through the villages
France has 32,000 villages but 'only' 150 of them claim to be ‘the most beautiful villages in France’. The other 31,850 are just plain old pretty. These are riddled throughout France and here where we live there’s a spattering of them just up the road. These range from medieval villages where cats sit on windowsills basking in the sunshine when everyone disappears on a Sunday, to more popular ones which happen to make that list and attract tourists like St Guilhem Le Désert.
4. Eating and drinking out
Lunching for a couple of hours outside in the sunshine with a pitcher of wine is one of the ultimate pleasures of living France. Montpellier has extra charm because of the amount of squares along its walking streets. Every restaurant, bar and café spills out onto the walkways and a walk through the city at lunch time or dinner time feels like you've just turned up at a giant city-wide street party.
One of my favourite things about Montpellier and plenty of other French cities is the boutiques. While you can find most big brands in cities like Montpellier, there are few places in the world where local boutiques dedicated to everything and anything are quite so numerous, good value and good quality. While the products are rarely more expensive than big brands, for me, everything is that little bit more special with a personal story, an owner who says 'Bonjour' as soon as I walk in the shop, and a reminder of that time I lived in France.
There's plenty more that I haven't even talked about: the history, the beaches, the nightlife, the baguettes, the cheese and also the trials and tribulations we've had trying to plan a wedding abroad, but there's no doubt that living in France has truly been an adventure.