After a relatively early night the night before, I woke up bright and early (aka, at 6am- horrendous) ready to get the high-speed train from Bordeaux to Montpellier, for a very brief stay there before my train to Avignon to see Joe. My train was at 7.30, which was a crime upon itself and the journey was scheduled to take around 5 hours: not bad, considering I was essentially going from one side of France to the other. I arrived at Gare St Jean in the centre of Bordeaux in plenty of time, treated myself to a café avec lait soja and a pain au chocolat, a couple of French magazines and made my way to the platform.
I’m not a morning person, at all, in spite of my daily early mornings at school. Couple that with France obviously operating entirely in the French language, and I was a very grumpy Hol. I sat down in my reserved seat (top tip: intercité trains in front have COMPULSARY reservations on them. You can’t just get on and hope for the best…) Sat across from me was a middle-aged French woman, who took it upon herself to make best friends with me and insist on conversation for the vast majority of the trip. If not for the fact that I knocked my kindle over onto her hand about an hour into the journey, she probably would have nattered to me for the entire five hours’ train ride. Excellent way to practice my French, but I wanted nothing more than to watch my film (The Theory of Everything) and have a nap.
Montpellier and Bordeaux couldn’t be more different, as far as cities are concerned. Whilst Bordeaux was vast and gothic, leaving me feeling very overwhelmed and awe-filled, Montpellier was the exact opposite: small and incredibly reflective of its Mediterranean coastal position, Montpellier is lined with palm trees and has a beautifully dazzling square. I got off the train at the train station with a spring in my step, ready to explore another beautiful new French city. I grabbed a sandwich and an Orangina from a little store near the station and settled myself in the cutest little park to eat an early lunch. I planned on exploring the city centre quite quickly, as I only had a few hours before I was due to get the train to Avignon to meet my friend Joe, and this definitely wasn’t an issue as the city is a lot smaller than I thought it’d be. I visited the Place de la Comédie, first of all, a recommendation from someone who’d lived in Montpellier in the past and checked out the gorgeous architecture and a beautiful fountain, sculptured by Etienne Dantoine, called La Fontaine des Trois Grâces. I spent the rest of my afternoon wandering through the windy streets of Montpellier, taking in all of the beautiful buildings and having a glance into some of the wonderful shops that Montpellier has to offer.
I must admit, the weather in Montpellier definitely added to its attractiveness and it was nice to be able to sit in the sun for a little while and just relax. Whilst wandering, I came across the most incredible artwork on the side of a building. At this point, it was getting to the point where I needed to be heading on my way and so I made my way back to the centre of Montpellier and the train station. Typically, my train to Avignon was delayed (the French do like their delays and grèves) so I had the pleasure of an hour sat out in the sun, reading my book and taking full advantage of the beautiful rays of the South of France.
I’ll definitely be heading back to France at some point to explore Montpellier more. It was a beautiful city with the most fantastic weather: it’d be great to go back there in the summer and see some of the sights that I didn’t have time to this time!
Have you ever been to Montpellier? What were your thoughts? Let me know!