Pézenas is a small inland town with 8,000 inhabitants, 40 kilometers from Sète, 25 km from Agde. Until the 50s, the coast was unhealthy with a lot of malaria. Important cities were not on the coast but inland. Pézenas was one of them and thus has a long history. It has a very active cultural life and several architectural jewels. For more, visit my Pézenas page (to come)
The torchlit procession through the streets, on Bastille night.All the kids were given lanterns with which to process.The 'candle police' would have been out in force if this were in the UK!
It's amazing watching the organization of the procession, which starts at the Mairie,(Town Hall).The lanterns are handed out and the candles lit by the gendarmes.The brass bands all get together amid much chaos and set off at the head of the procession, followed by the children, the grown- ups then the older people.Everyone dances their way through the narrow streets, whilst flares and fireworks are let off.At one stage the whole of one tiny, narrow street was thronged with crowds and red smoke! The procession winds its way through the streets and ends up at the main Square where the bands carry on their music making on the stage.Stalls have been set up throughout the day, ready for the evening, selling hot snacks and drinks.The cafes that surround the square have spent the day putting out extra tables and chairs ready for the customers in the evening.The sounds of the bands, singers, fireworks exploding, and the smell of the cordite is overwhelming.People start dancing, children perform routines, long- rehearsed, like cheerleaders, waving batons and pom- poms in time to the music, whilst the older people sit on the sidelines, watching fondly.The delicious smells of onions and garlic cooking emanate from the cafes.Later in the evening the procession, lead, once more by the bands, wends its way to the other end of the canal side for the spectacular firework display that rounds off the wonderful evening.
16 Quai de la Résistance
Photo 1 and 2. Just by the Grand Hôtel, 16 quai de la Résistance, also at the corner with Rue Gabriel Peri but on the other side of stands an equally beautiful building. I have not been able to find any information about it but it should have been built around the same time than the Grand Hôtel (1882). Four caryatids support the balcony.
Photo 3. The entrance is topped by a roaring lion framed by two caryatids. The one on the left wears a winged helmet (symbol of Hermès, the trade god). The one on the right seems to hold a cornucopia on her head (symbol of Ploutos, the wealth god).
Photo 4. The caryatid on the far left is obviously an African girl (travel, trade with Africa ?).
Photo 5. The caryatid on the far right has a Nordic or Slavic look (travel, trade with Eastern Europe ?).
My wild guess is that it might have been a kind of Trade and Industry Chamber, before the Palais consulaire was built. Anybody knows ?
Lounging on the beach.
The beach is uncrowded and protected from the rough seas by rock barrier.
Sunbeds which we hired for the day - 8Euros.There are toilet and shower facilities at the cafe/bar.
My friends stayed for the barbecue one evening.Amazing meal, apparently,( I didn't stay) of whole sea bass, salads, grilled veg,ice cream and coffee-20 Euros.
We took the wrong bus once- got there, eventually-arriving at the beach from a totally different direction- a delightful detour, that we hadn't yet discovered.All part and parcel of a great trip:-)
Sete Page and Gardiole Hills
You'll find the hills of Gardiole not very far from Sete. I remembered this place from our holidays to Spain by train in the early 1980s. Sete would be an important railway station on the way south. This time however, in May 2010, we visited the area to walk the hills. We parked our car at the Abbey of St. Felix-de-Montceau and walked about 12 kilometers. Great views from here towards the sea and the shore lakes which the French call 'etang'.
In the afternoon, we moved on to Meze, where we visited the Dinosaur Museum.