Who knew retirement would be so busy?

Roamers: never bored

What happened to May? Since we returned from our trip to Bordeaux, the time has flown by. For our first outing, our friend Laurence suggested the “Summer Garden” event at Domain de Biar, a lovely hotel/event venue between Montpellier and the sea.

Domain de Biar

Laurence picked us up (what a treat, riding in a car!), and upon arrival we were directed to the restaurant, where we retrieved baskets full of gourmet picnic food and a chilled bottle of rose. We chose a table near the live music and dug in.

Our friend Laurence

We decided to stroll the grounds and were delighted to run into friends Jo and Dennis, whom we’d told about the event during our weekly coffee group gathering. They joined us for the rest of the afternoon. Having a lovely social circle has made everything so much more fun!

Friends!

Domain de Biar is a beautiful setting for weddings and other events, and they regularly host barbeque parties and jazz brunches, so we’ll definitely be back!

Domain de Biar’s wedding chapel

While there, I met a musician who would be playing viola in the opera we were attending the next day. She told me the production was a bit “unusual.” She wasn’t wrong!

Waiting for Tosca to begin

We attended the opera with friends Margi and Michael (a retired opera singer who knows Tosca well). The music was wonderful, but we were a bit puzzled about all the nude men! It was great fun to get the perspectives of an opera expert over cocktails later.

We took pictures of each other after the opera

One of the highlights of our week is coffee with the “Long Duck Ladies’ Gathering” group. Each Thursday our friend Kirsty issues an invitation, and recently our group has grown to include men. For Kirsty’s birthday, I made my mother’s special chocolate cake (which was good but had a different texture; baking is different here!) to celebrate.

Kirsty, who’s responsible for many of the friendships we’ve formed

The “Long Duck Ladies” group on Facebook was the brainchild of Renestance founder Dennelle Taylor Nizoux. After a couple of rain cancellations, Renestance hosted a picnic in a lovely park, where we were taught to play petanque. I must have been having way too much fun, because I didn’t take a single photo that day! 

Evette, another friend we met through Renestance, invited us to the BCA (British Cultural Association) Quiz Night, which was great fun despite the fact that our team came in dead last. There are so many social opportunities here!

Quiz Night–and more!

The Long Duck Ladies also organized a GNO (“girls’ night out”) at a lovely courtyard bar. My friend Gwen has an injured knee, so I had the bright idea of taking an Uber there and back, not realizing that we were headed to a pedestrian-only area. Poor Gwen had to walk about a mile on her bad knee!

GNO

We got our second COVID boosters, and my reaction gave us an enforced couple of days’ rest before our next adventure: a wonderful visit from friends Rene and Pilar!

Pilar took this photo of our backyard dinner.

They arrived Thursday in time for an apero, followed by dinner in our garden (Did I mention how much we appreciate our apartment, with its private garden?). The next day, after a lazy morning of coffee on the deck, we headed into l’Ecusson, the old part of Montpellier dating to the Middle Ages. We strolled in, stopping to admire the aqueduct and the Promenade du Peyrou

Rene and Pilar at Peyrou

This was our first opportunity to show off our new city! Our guests loved it, and we enjoyed showing them around.

Selfie at Peyrou

Pilar and Rene were on a leisurely trip through the south of France, and rather than exhausting themselves being tourists, they were interested in our “real” life (which still seems like a fantasy to me!) here in Montpellier. So after strolling a bit and enjoying a VERY long lunch at one of the many outdoor cafes, we took the bus home in time for apero and another al fresco dinner chez Shroyer.

Phil took this al fresco dinner picture.

The next day was special. First (after coffee on the deck; did I mention daily pain au chocolat?) Rene and Pilar DROVE us to do a few errands. What a luxury to drive 15 minutes instead of taking 45 minutes on one bus and two trams! We bought a fan for the guest room, extra clothes hangers, and a new suitcase for Pilar. And, having heard about our petanque adventure, our lovely guests bought us our own petanque set! Phil might not want me to mention that so far I’ve waxed him every time. . .

Our petanque set

But the most special thing about this day was Pilar’s birthday. We rested up after our errands for a Big Night Out. Well, a bit night for us. First stop: our favorite bar, Smash. We LOVE this bar! With silent old movies, American blues and oldies, a beautiful decor, and the most wonderful cocktails ever, it’s a win. But add the warm hospitality and thoughtful service, and it’s over the top.

Enjoying cocktails at Smash

We had told Rene about the absinthe service, so of course our adventurous friend had to try it! We dragged him off to dinner before he could spot the green fairy.

Absinthe!

Dinner was special, too. I’d made reservations at J’aime, a lovely little restaurant we’d visited with friends Margi and Michael, who live next door to J’aime. We were seated outside and proceeded to engage in a bit of banter with the playful waiter, who remembered our previous visit. When he learned that Rene and Pilar live in Las Vegas, all bets were off!

Our entree, aka starter at J’aime

The dinner was delicious, the service fun, the company delightful. And for her birthday, Phil let Pilar choose one of the paintings he’s done since we moved to France. Her choice, after deliberation, was a painting of the aqueduct at les Arceaux, which we’d admired on our walk. What a fitting souvenir of a memorable visit!

Pilar’s birthday gift: a Philip Shroyer painting!

And the next day, their visit was over, as they headed on to the Camarge and environs before returning to Rene’s native Switzerland for a few days. We loved every minute of their visit. Tired but so very happy and grateful, we are ready to close out another perfect (and busy!) month in Montpellier.

Loquat tree in our garden

 

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