I went to the tourist information office* with a TON of questions:
- Where is the police office? At the corner of the two canals.
- Where is a laverie? Not a lavandrie - that is a place that deals with lavender ;-/ We want to wash our clothes... It's on Rue Maguelone.
- Is there an internet café? Yes, and the same place will also take passport pictures. In addition, the tourist office provides free Wi-Fi (and we can use Skype with it!). It is Exil photo, on Rue Substantion (internet is 5€/hr!!)
- Where and when are the farmer's markets? All are 7am - 1pm. Monday at the post office parking lot, Wednesday in the pedestrian area (Rue de Pietonne), Friday at the port casino parking lot.
- Where and when are Les Joutes? Sunday at 3:00, on the canal (le grau)
- Are there other ferias? Yes, the autumn celebration is September 25-27 - one aspect is that the bulls run into the sea
- What tram deal makes sense for us? We should buy a day pass. We can drive to the station near Pérol, park for free, use the pass to take the tram into Montpellier, enjoy our day in the city (or take a train elsewhere), and return.
My last question was: what is the origin is "Palavas?" Oh boy, did I get a lot of information!
I had wondered about the word palavas - it is not French or Spanish; I thought it might be Occitan (an older form of French, closer to the Latin base). I had guessed that it was related to palabra (Spanish), parole (French), and palaver (English), all of which mean word or chatter (or perhaps even murmur). But my romantic notion was not to be. It is Occitan, but it means stagnant :-/
In the 1700's, the area was unpopulated, and considered an out lying part of the town of Mauguio (which is actually pretty far to the North). Around 1860, a priest built a fort and dug out the canal (grau) from the stagnant ponds to the Mediterranean Sea. This harbor was protected from both the elements and pirates, and so attracted fishermen. It gained its full name, Palavas les Flots (stagnant waves), and remained a fishing village until the 1920-30's, when people from Montpellier began building vacation homes along the beach. Today, it is a very pleasant and popular resort area (it is quite crowded even in this first week of La Rentrée, the time that Europeans return to work after their August holidays).
* the TI is on the ground floor of the Phare (lighthouse), this interesting building: