Next time you go to France you might want to try to cycle on one of its well loved and well maintained cycle paths (pistes cyclables). This time we were staying in a suburb in the South of Montpellier, a city in the South of France about 6 miles from the seaside.

Unusually we take the train down but this time because of the pandemic, we have been able to take our bikes. From there we can cycle to several beaches, and the paths are fairly flat and mostly quite wide. Not surprisingly locals are using them more than ever instead of taking public transport or staying in. That being said they are not overcrowded.

Le Lez, Montpellier’s river

Over 20 years ago, it was decided to build a new neighbourhood around the river, South of the town. This links to the town centre and it’s called Antigone. Now the whole of the area around the river is very well developed (Port Marianne) and you can follow the cycle path on both sides of it towards the seaside. I recommend the one on the left bank, which passes lovely étangs (stagnant water lakes) and haras (stud farms).

At the end of it you will have a choice between a couples of canals. Le canal du Rhône à Sète has nice views and lots of flamingos. From there you can get to the seaside in Palavas, Carnon, or carry on towards la Grande Motte (read our blog). If you turn right instead you will reach Villeneuve les Maguelonnes and its pebble beach (quite unusual for this area).

Une vue des étangs

Wherever you are I’m sure you’ll be able to practice the French you have learnt with Alliance Française to Bristol and Bath, in groups or private lessons, and share aperitif with locals (albeit at a distance). Join us from September for online lessons for all levels, in Bristol and Bath, online or in person.