In Montpellier, cypresses grow as high as the bell tower of Eglise Ste.-Thérèse. Whelks, caught that morning from the nearby Mediterranean Sea, are sold by the dozen with a side of aioli at the covered market Halles Castellane. The Musée Fabre, a national museum that houses works by the likes of Delacroix and Courbet in a grand 18th-century chateau, manages to feel inviting, not intimidating. Even its visitors, sipping their espresso at the cafe Insensé on the front lawn, look more like leisured houseguests than the sort of wearied tourists you see at the Louvre.
None of this had I noticed, tasted or experienced before my trip to Montpellier last August, though it was my fifth in a decade, for Montpellier is also the home of my in-laws.
While my in-laws are lovely, and I always look forward to their visits to New York, where we live, visiting them is not a terribly relaxing affair.
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