I seem to have had a flurry of business trips recently and some interesting places to visit, this time I was heading to the South of France to a trade show in Montpellier.
Business trips can tease with tantalising destinations that you never actually manage to experience as the itinerary goes something like this: airport/ meeting room/ hotel/meeting room/ airport.
I find that the airports blend into one and business meeting rooms seem to have a universal blandness to them regardless of location. But this trip had some promise as thanks to the flight times it looked like there might be some time to explore, and hopefully time for a run. Along with some other atypical behaviour, running has brought out the anorak in me when it comes to fitting in a run each time I visit somewhere new.
( Is also good way for me to show off in running circles, as I know I am never likely to be able to brag about great times or winning races ! )
I do like visiting France – so much to love – great food, stylish dressing, splendid shops, adherence to tradition and a language I can understand a bit. I do regret not learning a second or third language and feel quite embarrassed by my British inability to converse in anything other than English.
I need to do something about that.
As I left the house at 4am to catch an early flight the temperature was a chilly 6 degrees and a bitter wind cut though me, but I had checked the forecast and a toasty 22 degrees was the outlook for Montpellier the next day. Hard to believe in November but fingers crossed.
It was a bit of a long journey to get there – and then a visit to the trade fair meant it was dark by the time we got to the hotel. Our hotel was very central and when out exploring that evening I reckoned I would manage to find a run route and not get too lost. We were staying in a very French hotel – part of a small group. It had seen better days, but it had a faded elegance about it and more character than the usual international chains. My room on the 4th floor looked out onto the street and a very French view of apartments and rooftops. When I woke the next day,helped in no small part by the street cleaning team, a warm yellow sky was bathing the buildings and looked promising for the day ahead. I did not have a lot of spare time – so set my Nike+ to 20 minutes and headed out along the newly washed streets. Reaching the Comédie area – a main central square , I had to watch my step on the marble pavements as freshly cleaned they were a bit slippery. My route took me along a small tree-lined avenue then through a small park – it was certainly warmer than back home. Regardless of where I run I encounter the same groups – early morning is the time for runners and dog walkers and in Montpellier lots of students heading to classes. The avenue was quite short so I did a couple of laps and also some running up and down stairs, then headed into some of the narrow lanes and streets. I always allow myself time to stop and take pictures – well I have to really – and sometimes I do think I could just as easily do my exploring at walking pace, but I enjoy this run with a purpose. I got back in time to meet my colleagues for breakfast and with 2.5 miles completed. Day 2
The next day we were due to fly home around lunchtime so had a couple of hours to fill in the morning. After a long day at the trade fair, I decided to leave the decision to run again in the hands of fate – so if I woke early enough I would run and if not – I would just have to run off my croissant back home in Edinburgh. I rarely sleep late and so woke at 7.30 and this morning it looked even sunnier than the day before.
So trainers on and out – it certainly felt warm – 13 degrees no less 🙂 . Turning left at the Cheese naan shop – I crossed the main square once more but this time took a left towards where I thought there was a cathedral. This was a gradual uphill run, and at this unusually warm morning temperature did feel quite hard work. But hard work is often rewarded and I reached the top of the hill to see not the cathedral but a triumphal arch bathed in sunshine. The French do love their monuments. But even better than the triumphal arch, across the road was a small tree-lined park and another monument at the top – surrounded by a pond. The warm early sun on the buttery stone looked lovely and it seemed incredible that this was early November. I was so glad to have made the effort and I got some good pictures in the early light, then looped back to the hotel through the streets of Montpellier, passing shopkeepers and market traders setting up for the day. I reached the avenue I had run along the previous day, and although I am sure it was a coincidence but just as I reached the start of the avenue the fountain sprang into life and caught in the sunlight it sparkled and looked magical. A quick lap back to the hotel and made it another 2.5 Montpellier miles .