In Montpellier, where there are 300 days of sun every year and it is warm well into October, the beach is always a good idea. As it is so close, it is even possible to go after your French courses in Montpellier, or spend the whole day there at the weekend. Last Saturday, my friends and I decided we wanted to bike there, using the rental bikes which are all over Montpellier. I would really recommend these; they are free for the first two hours, and then fifty cents every hour after that, so a really affordable way to get a bit further out of the city!
Being a Saturday, it was very busy in Montpellier, so riding through the centre was a bit nerve-wracking as there were people, trams and even scooters everywhere. There aren’t any proper bike lanes until you get a bit further out, so riding around the city is definitely an interesting experience. Once we got to Antigone however, a newer quartier in the east of Montpellier, there were fewer people and also more cycle paths, so it was smooth sailing from there. To get to the beach Palavas, it is pretty simple: you just have to follow along the Lez river. This also makes for quite a pretty route, as you can see the river at almost all times.
On the way, we cycled past the Marché du Lez, a food market with a really nice ambiance. I would definitely recommend coming here for a drink or for food one evening after your French classes, as there are lots of different restaurants to choose from and it’s only a few stops on the tram from the centre. We didn’t have time to stop however; we wanted to make the most of our time at the beach. The cycle path runs all the way down the river, so on our way we saw many other people with the same idea as us, either just coming back from the beach or overtaking us on their way as we were pretty slow. We also went past some of the lakes in the region, and stopped to take photos of the flamingos there. All stops included, it took us maybe an hour and a half to reach Palavas, so it’s really not far – and I’m really glad we cycled, as it felt like we earned the right to sit around on the beach after that!
As it was no longer summer, the beach was a lot less touristy, and we easily found a nice, quiet spot to chill and chat. This was all we wanted to do after the bike ride, but if you have more energy there is beach volleyball you can play, and also a cable car which takes passengers into the air for a view over the sea. We got crepes to reward ourselves for the bike ride, then started heading back as it was soon going to be dark. If you bike to the beach, you have two options: either you bike all the way back, or you get the tram from the stop Pérols. We opted for the latter, and biked back to the tram stop, stopping on the way to watch the sunset over one of the lakes. You can leave the rental bikes at the tram stop, before catching the line 3 back to Montpellier centre, and it tells you how long you cycled – we had done almost 20 kilometres! If you want to go to the beach but you don’t want to bike, you can get this line to the same stop and then walk to a closer beach, Carnon Plage, which is also nice – though personally I really enjoyed the bike ride. It only cost us 1.50€ to rent the bikes for the whole day as well, so it’s really a no brainer. Especially when it starts to get warmer, I can definitely see myself doing this bike ride more often, heading there after my French courses!