5.30.2014

Montpellier: Unicorns, spiderweb church, and floating dresses

Montpellier is the third largest city on the Mediterranean coast, which is to say, smaller than Nice (just as nice, though), and certainly smaller than Marsailles (which everyone in Paris will warn you is the crime capital of France).  But what does size matter? It's charming.

Oh, you see balconies? In Montpellier, balconies see you.
I spent an day exploring Montpellier, after my host friend had given me a map with her favorite parts circled. The city has enough going on, yet the center is navigable enough, that it is well suited to a scavenger hunt. I highly recommend it.

Here's the best parts of my scavenger hunt: 

1. A Church Converted to Modern Art!

I like churches as well as the next agnostic traveler with a love of architecture and shiny things. But sometimes I wish there were secular spaces with sweeping vaulted ceilings and an air of transcendence without the baggage of organized religion.

And lo! There are churches that convert. In Britain, some have been turned into bars. In Montpellier, Eglise Sainte Anne has been turned into a modern art gallery, Carré Sainte Anne. When I was there it was an installation called "After the Dream" by Chiharu Shiota.

postmodern ghosts and constructed spiderweb.

It was pretty surreal exhibit to walk through a space so occupied to webs of thin black threads that it was like a fog and eclipsed the stained glass and columns in favor white dresses flooded with light.

A postmodern commentary on the archaic nature of marriage and tradition
expressed as a dream of humanity, with the the supercutaneous flesh that is the air,
filled with fibres and the membranes of dreams. 


2. Creepy Child Riding an Unhappy Lion!

The Promenade du Peyrou is a lovely area where you can look at a guy on a horse and an octagonal building called Chateau d'Eau (eww). There is a nice overlook of the acqueducts. But more importantly, there is a creepy childmonster riding a lion that is not digging it.

Raw feeling in those lion eyes.
And fortunately, all that is right by the:

3. Arch of Miniature Triumphs!

Don't have time to drive around L'Arc de Triomphe in Paris? Save time and visit the miniature one in Montpellier! Note the scale against those shadowy people. It's the cute tiny version. Except this one is called Porte du Peyrou which was completed in 1693, so it's not actually ripping off Paris. Just the Romans.

Not to be arch, but I don't see the point of these structures.

4. Thing that I think is the back of a cathedral!

Wander around the old medieval looking part of the town and everything is completely different and old and medieval looking. This is a thing that looks old and medieval looking.

Monastery? Cathedral? Thing?

5. A Comedie of Errors!

A big focal point of the city is the Place de la Comédie, which is a big square with two things in it:

The Opéra Comédie
Comedically lit up at night.

And the Three Graces.
#nofilter #nomakeup #noshirt

6. Creepy Child Riding Unicorns

Let's be real, here. I saw a lot of Europe. But I didn't see enough unicorns. Unicorns are awesome. So Montpellier gets some major props for Fontaine aux licornes.

but it looks like they're doing it wrong.
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