After waking up in what can only be described as a jumble of pillowy soft clouds, I managed to tear myself away and get ready for the next leg of my motorbike trip: Lyon to Montpellier.
I actually managed to get ready in no time at all, which is surprising considering that I hate both early mornings and packing, but that morning was different because I was actually excited to leave Lyon. Which sounds terrible given how much I adored the place, but I wasn’t happy for the ‘leaving’ part, I was happy for the ‘where I get to go next’ part.
There were two reasons that I was excited about going to Montpellier.
The first was because that’s where I was planning on trying Aligot.
And the second was because that’s where I was planning on trying aligot.
It should come as a surprise to nobody, that my travels revolve around food.
To rewind just a little, back in January an ‘Insider’ video was doing the rounds on Facebook. It featured an incredibly large pot filled with hot, melty cheese and described itself as somewhere in the middle of cheese fondue and mashed potato. It was utterly mesmerising and I made it my mission to get my hands on some in 2017 because, ya’know, everyone needs an annual resolution and what could be more resolution-worthy than epically cheesy mash? So my resolution it was, and Montpellier? Montpellier was the target destination to resolve it.
I arrived in Montpellier around 4 pm, and in typically European fashion, nowhere was open for food. Luckily I had a hotel booked and after a swift check-in, I took the opportunity to take a much-needed nap. Three hours on a motorbike definitely makes you tired!
After a nap and a shower I was refreshed and ready to make the most of being in the sunshine in ordinary people’s clothes, and not full motorbike gear, so took a stroll down to the river.
The remnants of a wakeboarding competition were strewn across the riversides, which looked as though it would have made for an interesting event to watch so I stopped for a cola to up the ol’ sugar before wandering into the city centre.
After chilling by the fountains and being confused by two women who had only tanned their fronts (I kid you not, it was worse than Ross on *that* episode of Friends) I resumed my casual stroll before I noticed something spectacular.
There, in front of me, was the ultimate Haagan Daaz flavour; Speculoos and Caramel. It’s a flavour I was obsessed with during my expat days but unfortunately, it’s been a struggle to find since being back in the UK. Needing a little post-nap pick me up, I indulged before strolling through the masses of people that were now accumulating, making it very clear that the mid-day lull was officially over.
It wasn’t long before I made it to my destination: Restaurant l’Aveyronnais. I couldn’t tell you a thing about this restaurant other than that the words ‘Aligot’ were written on the menu. Unfortunately, I arrived a touch too early for their 7 pm opening time so I took a walk to a nearby fountain to sit and watch the sunset.
Deliveroo and Uber Eat-esque bicycles waited patiently outside shopfronts and protestors campaigning to welcome refugees with love and not hate, posted letters through a nearby government building. It was a fountain with plenty happening around it and it reminded me how nice it is to sit back and observe sometimes. It’s so easy to get caught up in everyday life that sometimes we forget that the hundreds of people that we pass by each day, each have a hundred different stories.
Eventually, the sun went down and a well-timed grumble from my stomach reminded me that the restaurant would be open now. I took my seat, ordered my dish and almost had a little panic when I realised that the aligot came with sausage because I *really* didn’t want sausage, but they let me swap it for steak so all was well. I say well, but it was my second steak in three days but I was too hungry to play menu roulette. So I stuck to a favourite:
Steak with béarnaise sauce and a side of aligot.
I literally couldn’t take my eyes off of it. And that wasn’t *just* because I had already twirled my fork 13395735 times and it was STILL bloody stringy. It was thick, it was cheesy and it was delicious. Potatoes are pretty much my favourite thing ever (all about that carb life) and the consistency of Aligot was kind of like Smash. If Smash was fancy schmancy and tasted like cheesy potato and not powder. It was exactly what I had hoped it would be, and was almost worth the hours of obtaining a numb ass from sitting on a motorbike, I endured to get it.
I like to joke that I have two stomachs because I always have room for pudding, but this? This took up my second stomach and then some.
After enjoying a few more drinks I felt that ever-familiar feeling setting in. You know the one; where your eyelids grow increasingly heavier with every blink and the feeling of utter contentment spreads through you the moment you smile. I’m pretty sure it’s known as a food coma, but all I know is that if I didn’t start moving quickly I was going to curl up on the floor and take a little nap, socially acceptable behaviour be damned.
I strolled back to the hotel the long way home, taking in the doors of France as I went. Eventually, I made it back to the hotel just before my eyes closed for the last time that day…
And full of cheese.