Weekly Photo Challenge: Future Tense – It’s coming!

Its coming…  the winter beach will not look the same…DSC_1615  DSC_1598  DSC_1600  DSC_1601

So what is coming?

Pop-up beach restaurants!

The future is summer, the future is a restaurant strip right on the sand… the future is  becoming tangible and I intend to enjoy as much of it as I can DSC_1607   DSC_1612

The future restaurant strip, Sete Plages: DSC_1610

Check out other entries in this week’s phonography challenge.

All photos taken with my Sony Ericcson phone camera. Enjoy!

Winter windup

Lately I have been a little caught up in real life which has kept me from posting. I’ve also come to the conclusion that while a cold (colder than I am used to) European winter is a novelty, it has been going on a little bit long now. I for one, am ready for some serious sunshine!

So to hopefully wind up my winter postings, I have just a small selection of pictures taken from my wanderings over the past couple of weeks.

Bring on spring!

After saying that, the next two days here are forecast to be extremely windy and wet – definitely no cycling.

Typical village street

Typical village street

Another typical village street

Another typical village street

A village church

A village church



Digging up our road

Digging up our road

Etang de Thau, Winter

Etang de Thau, Winter

Sailing into the Canal du Midi

Sailing into the Canal du Midi

Surprise horses on the beach

Surprise horses on the beach

Cafe at the Sete Beaches

Cafe at the Sete Beaches

On ya bike!

Today was a perfect day for cycling. Clear blue skies and lovely lovely sunshine combined with just the gentlest of breeze. Another 10-15 degrees warmer would be great, but who’s complaining on a day like today!

TC and I were feeling energised to work off our winter padding, so off we set today for a decent ride. Our wheels took us to another area where there are lakes lying right alongside the Mediterranean. We were just east of Frontignan Plage, and not all that far from Montpellier. We stopped on a bridge over part of the lakes to enjoy these gorgeous views. Cycle 20th feb 1  Cycle 20th feb 2  Cycle 20th feb 3  Cycle 20th feb 4

We rode back from there via Sete, spying a fairly large flock of pink flamingos on the way. They are amazing to watch, but noisy. It was hard to imagine at that point that we weren’t so far from some pretty big towns. It was also amazing to be standing on such a narrow strip of land running between the beach and the lakes. The beaches at this point weren’t great for swimming though, unless you like walking across rocks to get to the water.  Cycle 20th feb 5  Cycle 20th feb 6

If only all cycle paths were this great! Cycle 20th feb 7 Cycle 20th feb 8

We stopped in Sete for a little rest and to buy fruit, then it was on to our favourite cafe at the western plages of Sete.  Cycle 20th feb 9  Cycle 20th feb 10  Cycle 20th feb 11  Cycle 20th feb 12 

It was such a good day that every man and his dog was out enjoying the seaside, so we didn’t get to have our usual chat with the cafe owner. It was a definite change from a week ago when the Sete Plage walkways were completely empty. Cycle 20th feb 13

The breeze had picked up a bit on our way home so it began to feel like a workout by then. Eventually we got home having clocked up a decent 75km; that should put a few dents in the winter fat. We are considering longer distance rides as our training regime from now on, to prepare for our next cycle tour in May – in the Bordeaux region. If only every day was as beautiful as today, wouldn’t that be fantastic.

Le Tour Mediterraneen 2013 – roadside stage 2

One of the great things about living in France is the chance to see international cycling events just about on our doorstep.

Today we went along to watch stage 2 of Le Tour Méditérranéen. This is a five-stage cycling event that is being held along various stretches between Limoux and Grasse. Today’s stage happened to be a 24km time trial between Cap d’Agde and Sète – an area we know very well as it’s one of our favourite routes.

The conditions weren’t great today. While there was lovely sunshine and not too many clouds, there was a very strong wind. We rode to Sète, had café near the canal at the western side of town, then braved the wind for as long as we could. Being a time trial stage, we didn’t get the fun of a peloton; it was each individual rider spaced about a minute apart, usually followed by a support vehicle. So after about an hour in that biting wind, we decided we’d had enough. Canal area, western Sete  Tour Mediterraneen 2013 Stage 2 Sete (1)  Tour Mediterraneen 2013 Stage 2 Sete (Photographer)  Tour Mediterraneen 2013 Stage 2 Sete (2)

During the time we stood roadside, the wind and sand were making a start on burying our bikes! Sete, by the beach  This was our view between riders Beaches at western Sete  view from Sete towards Agde  

Eventually we headed off, taking more pics along the way Tour Mediterraneen 2013 Stage 2 Sete (3)  Tour Mediterraneen 2013 Stage 2 Sete (4)

Congratulations to the winner of today’s stage, Lars Boom, who averaged almost 45km/h in the wind followed by a climb up Mont St Clair in Sète (photo courtesy of the official FaceBook page for Le Tour Mediterraneen 2013)  – I know personally just how TOUGH and cold that wind was today! Lars Boom, winner Stage 2, Le Tour Mediterraneen 2013

There were a few spectators around the main roundabout in Marseillan Plage, but we probably forever remain mystified about why one particular Frenchman was calling out & pointing at us as we stopped to take some more pics, and again as we rode past him further down the road (well away from the race). We’ll probably never know if we committed some terrible crime by crossing the race-route at the crossing manned by about 6 police (who didn’t mind) or if he was just yelling in general about spectators or the race itself. Our French listening skills still aren’t that developed!

But the real drama of the day was the shock announcement that the planned 3rd stage (tomorrow) has been cancelled as the local prefecture authorities did not give their authorisation for the event. It seems many people are very disappointed and unhappy, as it seems the organisers were trying their best to come up with alternative routes to suggest to the authorities. This can’t be a good day for cycling in France.

Sun, sea and a little snow

Cycle path

At first sight of the cycle path today, you would never even know what season it is… it looks sunny and warm, right?

Ha, wrong! Don’t let that sunshine fool you, the temperature was somewhere between 0C and 2C (thats 32F and 35F for Americans!) not counting the wind chill factor, and yesterday’s weather was still on the ground. Yes, an extremely unusual sight for two Aussies still fascinated by this lovely white stuff – snow on the beach. The beach!! I’ve spent half my life on beaches but have never seen one looking like this.

Here are our views from today’s ride along the voie vert between Sete and Marseillan Ville & back, past the (now closed for winter) Castella’s campsite right on the beach…


Castellas Camping in winter Snow on the sandhills Sun, Sea, sand and snow snow at the beach 9 Our of the snow, into the sea Bridge over the Canal du Midi Still cold at the port

and finally, I need a balaclava like TCs – my face was frozen!

snow at the beach 10

A Sete for all seasons

One of the joys of the south of France is the access to the Mediterranean and somewhere very special is the region between Sète and Marseillan Plage. Here there is a very narrow strip of land that runs between the lake (Etang de Thau) and the sea. This fragile strip was in danger of destruction from erosion, so for the past 6 years or so, a major restoration project has been underway.

Completed and opened in June this year… dah DAHHH!! We now have the absolutely fabulous “Lido de Sète à Marseillan” which has restored beaches, a new road and a fabulous new 12km pathway for pedestrians and cyclists. The area is already popular with campers and on any fine day you will see all sorts of people out enjoying the area, whether on foot, two wheels (bikes), 4 wheels (wheelchairs) or 8 wheels(rollerbladers), enjoying lunch or café, or playing in the water.

In summer the beach was dotted with a number of gorgeous pop-up restaurants right on the sand. I say pop-up because, come the first week of October, the trucks and cranes came in, and the restaurants all disappeared! I’m sure they’ll be back for next summer and I for one will be trying out as many as I can. Mmmmm, just imagine lounging back on comfy chairs or loungers, enjoying the sun, fresh seafood and lovely local chilled vin rosé. I’ll be there!

And in the meantime I know we’ll be out enjoying this wonderful facility as long as we can brave the cold (and sometimes rain). Today’s weather wasn’t so bad…on a fine day you will be dazzled by the amount of blue just everywhere. Just beautiful.

CLICK here to find the restaurants of the Sete beaches:   You can also see the film about the restoration here: Thau Agglo – Lido de Sète à Marseillan : découvrez le film !…. and some lovely aerial shots taken from the film