Last weekend, after 4 weeks of intense TEFL course work and an exam, myself, Macey and Colin decided we needed a little break somewhere outside of Spain. With it being short notice, flights were a little out of the question so we looked into where we could go via train or coach and landed on Montpellier. The coach was exceedingly cheap and comfortable, it only cost about 15€ each way and there was free WiFi for the entire journey. We didn’t research a lot about the town itself before we went and opted instead to just kind of throw ourselves in the middle of Montpellier and figure what to do from there and it worked out pretty well!
We rented an Airbnb for three nights that was centrally located and had a great little balcony with some fluffy tenants beneath so I was instantly happy! The area was quiet and there was a Boulangerie next door, which I leapt out of bed at 9am to go to on the first morning and was welcomed with a very cheerful cry of “Bonjour, madamoiselle!” It was idealistic and everything I love about France in one package.
Our first full day started with a quick trip to Lafayette as the temperature had dropped substantially overnight and none of use were prepared for that after living in Barcelona for a month so we all bought something to keep us warm. After that detour, we headed out on a big loop around the town to get a measure of Montpellier and see what it had to offer. We soon ended up at the Porte de Peyrou (Montpellier’s answer to an Arc de Triomphe), which stood opposite the Place royale du Peyrou – a large square with a glorious monument at the far end of the promenade. Despite their being protest happening at the entrance and lots of tourists (including us) wandering around the atmosphere was light and calm. It seemed like a good place to go to contemplate and read a book.
We wandered around here for quite a while before heading along to the University of Montpellier – one of the oldest universities in the world as it was established in 1289. The university is a phenomenal sight and looks most like a castle from a fairytale than a place of learning. We didn’t dare to try to go inside but settled for sitting in the shadow of its looming, fortified towers and having a crepe. From here we looked in a few of the many vintage shops that are dotted along the back streets around the Place de la Comédie before heading back to the apartment for some pre-dinner snacks and a nap. We ended up going to a restaurant called Burger & Ratatouille, it was a Saturday so we had to wait for almost half an hour for a table but the food was worth it. The burgers have a little potato rosti in the middle that definitely improved the burger ten-fold and I rarely eat burgers. There are plenty of restaurants in Montpellier but most of them generally serve the same kind of food but all of it was delicious. After dinner, we sampled the nightlife and went to a couple of bars that then cumulated in running through the rain to another club that seemed to be playing the same song on repeat and where the toilet was missing the toilet seat. It was nothing special and a bit expensive but that’s clubs everywhere!
Our second day was dictated by the weather, it rained all night and continued into the day so we decided to take the tram out to the aquarium much to my excitement as I have been wanting to see an octopus since I read a book about them last year (The Soul of an Octopus). I don’t remember the last time I went to an aquarium but this one was perfect for a rainy day. It was well laid out, the wait to get in wasn’t long and there was plenty of interesting sea life including sharks and penguins. When we had seen everything, we just hopped back on the tram to the city centre, which only took about 25 mins maximum and is very cheap.We ended up going to the sister restaurant of Burger & Ratatouille, Burger & Blanquette. The town was a lot quieter on the Sunday night but it was a good end to our very chilled weekend. We were catching the coach back to Barcelona at 9.30am the next day so we got a good night’s sleep and I still managed to get up for a croissant run plus a baguette and some cheese for the journey. The pain au raisin I had on the coach ride back was the best I have ever had.