As the weather starts get warmer and the semester is wrapping up, everyone is starting to get restless. Already, some of the exchange students have left to go home and the rest are scrambling to finish exams and cram in some last minute trips before they have to do the same. It’s sad to have to say goodbye to so many of the lovely people I met in January, because it feels like hardly any time has passed. Seeing other people finishing up their exchange after only a few months has made me so grateful that I have a full year in France. There’s no way I could feel satisfied in just four months. In any case, there’s still a few weeks until everyone heads home, and my trip to Italy is just ten days away! Time flies, and all.
So in the midst of all this, myself, Beattie and Claudia – three quarters of the UTS group – booked a long weekend in Montpellier. It was almost a 6 hour train ride that began very early on Friday morning, but some reading and sleeping helped it go by. Seeing the sunrise outside the window was an extra bonus. As soon as we walked out of the train station, we were all three of us enamoured.
The architecture is stunningly different to Strasbourg – all smooth tiles and cobblestones and sandstone buildings with rusted gold and orange roof tiles. Very typical of the southern regions, and so beautiful. We had an Air BnB in the centre historique of the city, which was a maze of stone alleys brimming with boutiques and cafés. Our accomodation was a small studio overlooking a square, nestled amongst the narrow streets and less than five minutes’ walk from the Place de la Comedie. The studio was small but I think it suited us perfectly – even if the toilet door was right next to the kitchen sink and the shower was down a small corridor with no door. It was a bonding experience, if nothing else.
After setting our things down we spent the rest of the day exploring. We were lucky to have a sunny first day.
In the evening we walked to Peyrou Park to meet Larissa and Jess, friends from UTS who had been sent to Montpellier for their exchange. We met some of their university friends, and saw Lucie who was also visiting from Lyon, for a lovely picnic. The sunset was magnificent and the company was equally wonderful. There’s something about a picnic that you just can’t beat. Especially when there’s cheese and wine involved.
The next day was overcast and it rained on and off, which we had been expecting. A bit unfortunate, but it wasn’t unpleasant enough to keep us locked inside. We borrowed umbrellas from the Air BnB and set out on another exploratory stroll. This time we found the university gardens, more cafes and more boutiques, and an old church with towering arches. Beattie and I spent the afternoon in a gorgeous English bookstore café, which must have been a cellar at some point. The mochas were cheap and delicious, and even though I was surrounded by books I was still reading on my iPad. Who am I?
We went out on Saturday night and had some fun drinks and a good boogie, so we had a good sleep in on Sunday. Of course, most things are closed on a Sunday so we decided to start off with a visit to the Musée Fabre in the centre of town. Afterwards we continued in the tradition of wandering around the streets and finding new places and having a lovely break with some coffee and cakes in one of the eccentrically decorated cafés of the city. The whole weekend was very relaxed – we didn’t really do much by way of tourist activities, but I think we all felt very content in just going with the flow.
“There’s nothing wrong with going with the flow”
Beattie Lumley Tow (April 2017)
On Monday the sun came out! We headed back to the university gardens in hopes of seeing it in the nice weather, but of course it was closed on Mondays. We had no choice but to resume our directionless wandering. However this time we found some really lovely residential streets on the other side of the Peyrou Park, where we stopped for some family photos.
Last and not least, we had a cute morning tea with our city hosts, Larissa and Jess before they went to university for the day and we headed back to Strasbourg. It was so nice to finally be able to sit outside in the sun with our coffees and have a chat.
All my love and thanks to these four girls for being such angels and especially to Claudia and Beattie for being so funny, lovely and easy-going. Not everyone can pull off an impromptu, coordinated kitchen dance with squats included. I couldn’t have asked for a better pair to share not just this weekend, but also my exchange with (Chris, if you’re reading this I also love and appreciate you).
Also thank you for letting me follow with my camera the entire weekend!
À la prochaine,