Canal Cruise in Southern France

The Night before the Cruise

Arriving in Europe is always a shock for me. While I love Europe, that first day across the ocean is rough; after traveling all night, changing planes in Paris, and losing several hours to the time change, everything seems a bit off. I am sleepy, but excited. Today is just an adjustment day; I begin a much-awaited cruise tomorrow – I will be traveling on the Canal du Midi in the south of France.        

Montpellier City in FranceI chose to overnight in Montpellier – it is a smart idea to arrive at least one day before going on any cruise or tour. France’s eighth largest city is just a few miles from the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. It has 300 days of sunshine per year, offers fantastic dinning, sightseeing, and museums, and boasts about its many language schools. Well worth several days by itself, Montpellier is a clean and efficient university town.

When New in Town, Follow the Young People   

As with any place that makes itself home to 80,000 students per year, you can imagine there are many bars, pubs and restaurants luring young people away from their homework and out to learn the virtues of the world. Therefore, for purely cultural reasons, I joined the masses flocking to the Ayers Rock Australian Café

Known for a huge selection of Australian beers and traditional Aussie food, this fun bar along the river hosts a big party once a month and I just happened to be there for their rendition of a Jungle Party. All the employees (both male and female) were dressed in leopard-print outfits; and palm tree decorations filled the entire bar.

Ayers Rock AustralianCafeCrazy Good Time 

The bartenders are Top Gun trained, which means they toss bottles in the air, spin around, catch the bottles and pour your drink. Sometimes they jump on the bar, dance, and throw souvenirs, such as t-shirts, into the audience. Rent the movie Cocktail or Coyote Ugly if you cannot picture the choreography.   

Packed by 11:00 p.m., the music was pounding and the people were dancing. Smoke filled the dance floor and everyone had a drink in his or her hand. I am sure the Jungle Party theme was more entertainment for the staff than for the guests, but it made for a wild time. After a pint or two of heavy beer, I walked the mile or so back to my hotel room. That combination and jet leg put me right to sleep.

First Full Day in France

Subtract my quick stop in the outback and I wake-up for a new day in France. Montpellier is a great walking town and they have a good tram system for the long hauls. I explored the streets and sights; and enjoyed the throngs of people going about their business in this pedestrian-friendly, very French, city.

Wow, the night before the cruise was an adventure in itself. Read next week’s Community Edge to hear about the cruise along the Canal du Midi.

Michael writes about happenings in the Rochester area, travels across Michigan and destinations around the world. Contact him at

About Michael Dwyer

Michael Dwyer is a freelance content provider. Michael writes about happenings in the Rochester area, travels across Michigan and destinations around the world. Contact him at

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