For historians and archaeologists French region of Languedoc-Roussillon seems the promised land: here the oldest in Europe, parking homo erectus was discovered (Homo erectus), here for two millennia oksitantsy Languedoc and Catalan Roussillon fought with the Romans, Visigoths and Moors, from these places came Cathars who considered the devil the creator of the Earth. For an inquisitive traveler, all these facts are undoubtedly interesting, as well as the color of Carcasson’s walls in which the walls of the setting sun color the walls. The flight from Moscow to Paris dissolves in half asleep, as if dying a little, as if falling into the gray space between worlds. Then, suddenly and hard, the airport Charles de Gaulle, tangled, twisted, scattered in spaces, casually tagged with numbers, letters and sub-letters, piled on. Around dressed around dressed neat people. Escalators silently snake, and the transparent doors swing open frighteningly suddenly. Smiling airport employees stubbornly refuse to understand broken English. This is France, the mind says, but the heart is still wary. And then, quite unexpectedly, you realize that we, Russians, are the same French, only in dark clothes, smugly smiling, less polite and less pleasant words that speak each other … Montpellier Night in Montpellier is filled with spicy flavors and tropical chatter. Behind the hotel, he mumbles a waterfall. A high fountain beats among the canal and careless swans doze off the coast in white bumps. The next morning, having breakfast “not in Russian” – fruit salad in yogurt, a glass of juice and a traditional croissant, I decide to stroll through the sleepy yet city, in the Antigone quarter, to the fruit of the genius Ricardo Bofill. Wrapped up in a gray haze, the sky does not give the morning cool, exuding only a moist heat. Past rapidly, like in the comedy movie, old men and old women rush by on fast bikes. Plump palm trees, more like giant pineapples, stick out on loud green lawns among oleanders. French songs sound from the wide open windows and fragrantly draws freshly ground coffee. Montpellier is a very old city. New architecture – glass and plastic – is adjacent in it with ancient sculptures and buildings of the Roman era. The old part of the city is a complex labyrinth of narrow, narrow streets among houses built in the 10th century. A real living museum. History carefully left everywhere, so as not to forget. The blue tram with the coolness of the air conditioner stops at Place de la Comedie, next to the magnificent Opera building from the end of the 19th century and the pompous Gomon cinema. Cathedral of sv. Petra is like a spaceship predicted in stone by gothic craftsmen. He is the only survivor during the religious wars. Next – the oldest in France Faculty of Medicine. Near the triumphal arch in the Place du Peyroux there is an elegant pavilion with a pond and an equestrian sculpture, of course, in the Roman style. The perfectly preserved Roman aqueduct crosses the wide valley, spreading out all doubts about the uncivilization of the past centuries. Picturesque spots of light lie on the ground under the crowns of plane trees – a strange foreign movie. … French cuisine is a separate song. I will say even more – opera. A huge quadrangular plate is served with a small piece of art in the middle. There are some curly, inedible-looking things, sauces are spreading out into two colors, and the second, green, smooth net flows over the first white, and on the side – ice balls of tomato sorbet. It is awkward to destroy a culinary masterpiece, but lunch is lunch. And the wines – warm red, chilled white and pink – are worthy of a separate story … Tart, thin, sharp, fragrant and friable, with the taste of an unfamiliar sun and hot dust – the living blood of this southern land. And always next to it is a foggy, decay-shaped decanter with icy water. And behind the glass of the veranda, in the middle of a long street staircase, sparkling water is running, flowing through a narrow chute. Palm trees approvingly pumping Indian plumes. Softly speaking French speaks in the comfort of the restaurant, throwing it into warm unreality. Montpellier was founded in 985. 230,000 inhabitants. City of three universities. Every fourth resident is a student. The oldest medical school in Western Europe. Francois Rabelais graduated from the Medical Faculty of the University of Montpellier and lectured here. Monuments of the historical center: Ursulins, a former convent, now the Center of Dance, the Cathedral of Saint-Pierre, the medieval Mikva – a ritual Jewish bath built in the XII century, the only well-preserved in Europe Museum of History of Montpellier, located in the crypt of Notre Dame de Tabl, La Tour de Panne – one of the 25 towers of the ancient fortress. It is interesting to visit the planetarium with a multimedia hall, equipped with the latest technology.
Seth City Seth on the sea peninsula, carved by large canals, can be seen from Mount Saint-Clair. Here stands a cross and a number of a chapel, painted with the French immediacy by a local artist, as if never Raphael, nor Leonardo, but only Van Gogh and Leger. A small figure of Our Lady on the dome tilted her head toward the city. Oyster plantations are spelled out in the waters of the gulf, and the mountains are far outlined in the distance. Gray expanse of the sea, terracotta roofs, lush green gardens … Piercingly white, which are only on the sea, sails on the horizon can be mistaken for gulls. Paul Valéry, Georges Brassens and Jean Vilar were born here once. On the main channel of Set, unique boat battles take place. This is the main sign and attraction of the city, its fun attraction. The teams row to meet each other, and the men standing on the bows of the boats are trying to throw the enemy into the water with long poles. Along the channel stands stands for spectators. The bridge even has a white monument, from a distance similar to our “girl with a paddle”, but this is a local “man with a pole”. Set was founded in the XVII century. 42,000 inhabitants. The largest fishing port in southern France. Traditional holidays: Saint-Louis fishing holiday, Saint-Pierre religious festival, Day of the sea and fishermen, boat battles with poles (held every year in August starting from the 1666th). The Museum of Paul Valery, the Museum of Georges Brassens (both are natives of Set and buried in the Sea Cemetery on Mount Saint-Clair). In local cafes and bars you can taste the famous oysters, which are bred in Lake To. La Grande-Mot We love to say that everything in the West is mechanical, artificial, and politeness, and smiles, and readiness to help. But it’s great when people are sincerely friendly and tactful. Thanks to the centuries of European culture that have cultivated respect for personal independence. White La Grande Mot is unusual. Its architecture resembles a high-tech remix of the Inca Pyramids. The city looks into the dairy turquoise of the bay, closely crowded with white yachts, as if they had gathered here from all over the sea. Everywhere reverent, almost pagan worship of white. Here and on the private beach, separated from the road by a sandy wave of the dune, everything also tends to white. White buoys on the water, white umbrellas over the couch, white clothes of the visitors – tanned not to the tar black peasant, but to a pleasant measure. Bobbed-cut golf courses are lined with fragrant lavender. Violet waves surging against the background of white houses, like sunset clouds, descending to rest on the ground. In a small pond among smooth glades, a muskrat fusses, paying no attention to anyone. At dinner, I finally dare to try the famous kokiyazh: a huge dish lined with wet algae, where the snails and oysters of various sizes and small octopus are laid out. A large pink shrimp solemnly rests in the middle. With a funny two-horned fork, it is necessary to carefully detach the slippery oyster from the shell, sprinkle it with vinegar or lemon juice and swallow it with the sea water in which it floats. A nimble lump slips down the throat, leaving no taste of food, but it gives a proud feeling of being involved in something European-classy. After Kokiyazh it becomes clear that the people, who are sacred at the table with snails and clams, do not quite like you. Something in him is different, and he also understands the world around not quite the way you do.
Nîmes In the reign of the Roman emperor Augustus, Nîmes, as well as Lyon and Narbon, was a significant city of the Gallic part of the great empire. He today causes special feelings. Modern architects Jean Nouvel and Philippe Starck, who worked here, preserved its appearance, preserving the atmosphere of antiquity. True, they could not resist the “hooligan” experiment, erecting a glass building of the Museum of Modern Art, where transparent elevators and glass steps cause instinctive fear with their transparency. The exposition offered here awakens lively curiosity. Impressions change one after another: bewilderment, surprise and, finally, admiration of avant-garde artists by dashing assertiveness. Probably, I am irrevocably outdated with my interest in a living person, in the thrill of a nervous brush stroke. Or maybe the specific vision of the avant-garde author, the vague images of his subconscious and is now the main goal of art? Especially struck me by the inverted figure of a life-size dummy, in a natural suit, stuck his head in a blue plastic washbasin with concrete. If the task was to hit, they achieved success. Opposite the modern museum stands a house with columns, which I immediately called the Parthenon. He is here simply called the “square house.” On its classic lines and forms the eye rests. It is so well connected between the houses, in the middle of the square, covered with gray granite slabs, repeating it in its polished surface, like a clear echo. There are other exhibits, such as a stone, ground and lovingly polished to the shape of female roundness, two large plastic leeches on the floor with a garland of paper flowers, a mirrored human figure, as if in thick soap suds blown by the wind. The amphitheater in Nimes –– the only well-preserved in Europe –– these are huge ancient walls with arches and a labyrinth of stairs, which, however, have a clear purpose: for the patricians –– some, for the plebeians –– others. A giant funnel of rows with a scene below shakes with scale and unearthly monumentality. In the Middle Ages, inside the Amphitheater there was a town with houses and gardens, in which the ancient builders provided for water and sewage. The heirs of the Roman Empire lived inside a circus built for spectacle. There is also a small Versailles in the city, with canals and sculptures, where tasting of wines, juices and sausages of local cooperators often takes place. Upon learning that I was from Russia, the French collective farmers presented me with a bottle of Gagarin wine with a portrait of our cosmonaut. Here at last I felt that there was a huge power behind me and that I had something to be proud of … Hemingway stayed here. I wanted to see the room where he lived. I was led to a small room with pink flowers on the wallpaper, very similar in tone to the sentimental pictures of Dreams. Large bed, writing table near the wall, large walk-in closet. The tall windows are curtained with heavy purple curtains. And I, too, could live here and could write a novel at this table, if not … I wanted to think so, that was the “smart” mood … I remember, old Ham, for whom the bell tolls. He calls each of us. It is founded by galls. In 120 BC er passes under the power of Rome. 129,000 inhabitants. The ancient buildings are perfectly preserved: the arena, where bullfights are organized today, the current Amphitheater, the Corinthian temple, the so-called “Maison Carré” (square house), the Pont-du-Gard aqueduct 49 meters long. A favorite tourist destination is the Jardin de la Fontaine Park, which is located at an ancient source. Neem is the birthplace of denim denim, which began to be produced here in the Middle Ages (“denim” literally means “from Nimes”).