PALAVAS-LES-FLOTS, FRANCE


Palavas-les-Flots is a small beach community on the Mediterranean south of Montpellier, France. It sits on a strip of sand bars that lay between the sea and a large lagoon on the mainland side. The village centre is located at the spot where the river Lez flows into the sea through a canal. Originally a fishing village, it has become one of the most popular tourist places in the region.  
Originally, we were only going to stay one night, but on the way there we sailed into a 'Mistral' , a strong west wind that generally blows between 50 and 90 km/h.  There are no pictures of this part of the journey as Cyn was too busy trying to keep the boat on course, and I was too busy with the boat hook trying to keep us from hitting anything. When we finally got to Palavas, we had trouble docking because the wind kept blowing us away from the dock. Thanks to the help of 5 kind gentlemen, one of whom jumped from the dock on to our deck, we got it docked. Since the wind lasted a few days we made the decision to stay where we were and return to St. Gilles rather than risk any more incidents.
      

Docked - finally!.
     

The view from our boat across the river Lez.
    

Those birds you see in the background are actually flamingos. And you thought they were only found in more tropical areas.
    

Videographer at work.
    

The captain at rest . . ..
      

. . . before going to town for dinner and hitting the casino.
        

Our welcoming committee the next morning.

    

We decided to walk into town along the river, which has been 'canalized' by the time you get to town.

      

The closer we got, the more boats we found moored along the canal.

    

This is the 'Cloudcatcher' from Manchester, England.

    

Finally we made it to the beach on the Med. Because it was early April, people still wore heavy clothing
. . .
     

. . . but that didn't stop some from kicking back and lying in the sun.

    

A view of the Med from the beach.

    

Palavas has one large marina.

    

Another view of the marina.
Where the canal meets the Med, there is the biggest statue of Jesus with hands outstretched that I have ever seen. It may not be as large as the one in Brazil, but it was darn close. The idea of the statue was to bless the fishermen as they left in the early morning to fish the Med.
    

A lite lunch. For 15 francs, you could get 2 doz mussels or 12 oysters, fresh bread and a beer. Cheap at the price!

      

Helen, Jim's mother (Jim is Cyn's significant other) wanted to be sure that we wore our lifejackets on the boat, which is why we took this picture.

    

The Crew, with the boat hook.

   

This is the main drag. The boxes behind me are boat storage for the fishing boats that dock along the canal. If you get up early enough in the morning (we didn't), you could head down and buy fresh fish directly from the fishermen when they return.

   

This is the tower of the Church of the Fishermen, dedicated to the fishermen that risk their lives everyday on the Med.

   

The back of the church.

    

And the church as viewed from the garden.

    

Local resident of the garden.

   

The garden dedicated to the fishermen.

    

Palavas' monument to Y2K. Originally a 45m water tower, it now contains an observation desk and a congress centre.

    

Another lite lunch - also 15 francs.

   

Leaving Palavas, followed by the Cloudcatcher. We have already turned off the river Lez and are on the main canal heading back to St. Gilles.

    

The captain taking a break (again!).

    

The crew giving the captain a break.

    

Those are flood gates ahead of us, which close when the water in the cross canal gets too high in order to avoid flooding the main canal.
Cyn dubbed them the 'Gates of Hell', mainly because when we were coming through them the first time, we got caught between the Mistral and the cross currents, resulting in more than 1 attempt to get through the second gate.
   

Today is much calmer, so we had no trouble between the gates.

   

The trusty crew makes it through.

     

More scenes along the canal, heading back to St. Gilles.

 

    

Highlight of the trip - sheep herding.

      

Our last stop in France.




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