Choosing Montpellier enables you to have an amazing experience abroad while still maintaining a clean ecologic footprint. In this article I will share a few experiences and insiders with you.
For Europeans it is super easy to get to Montpellier by train or bus, which is amazing if you want to avoid flying. Flixbus has amazing connections, is cheap and usually offers overnight connections with few changes. The advantage of taking the train is that the TGV running within France is very fast and offers a lot of comfort. However, train connections tend to be a bit more expensive. In addition, you should keep in mind that there is no public transport from the train station “Sud the France” into the city center. If you are staying with a host family this is no problem, because you usually get picked up. I stayed at the student residence and therefore had to take a taxi for 30 Euros. Keeping this in mind, I would suggest to book a train connection arriving at the “Saint-Roch” train station, which is in the city center and very close to the student residence “l`Obsérvatoire”.
Within the City
Montpellier is a moderately sized city. Therefore, getting around is quite easy. The French language course takes place at ILA French language school, which is located in the heart of the old city. As a result, if you are staying in the city center almost everything is within walking distance. In case your accommodation with a host family happens to be located a bit further away there is a reliable, quite well-established public transport system, which connects you to the city. The connections are quite frequent and depending on which line you have to take, they run until after midnight. The network consists out of a few tram lines and bus connections for which you can get “TAM” monthly passes for only around 30 Euros. Furthermore, you can reach the close by beaches, the IMAX and shopping centers by taking public transport. Another possibility to discover the city is by bike. There are rentals within the city and since there is not too much traffic it is very safe to use them.
Not only are you able to live eco-friendly during the week, but also trips for the weekend are all reachable within driving distance. Either you can once more use the bus or the train (or carsharing) if you want to organize a trip yourself to the beautiful surroundings of Montpellier. Such trips definitely complete and enrichen your French immersion experience. Another option is, to profit from the trips organized by ILA French language school. There is a different trip each weekend and on some excursions you get to know students from other French language schools as well.
If you are responsible for your own groceries during your French language stay in Montpellier, there are also several eco-friendly possibilities. There is an amazing Organic Store which sells unpackaged goods. It is called “Biocoop” and is located around a 10-minute walk away from the ILA French language School. They sell only organic goods and have a lot of vegan options as well. What I personally enjoyed the most are the markets. My favorite is a small market called “Marché des Arceaux”. It takes place on Tuesdays and Saturdays and Is located on the “Boulevard des Arceaux”. There you have the possibility of buying goods directly from local producers. A lot of local specialties are sold as well. Anything from seasonal fruits and vegetables, olives in all their forms to delicious homemade baked goods, bread. And last but not least of course there is amazing cheese and wine as well. This market is not only very convenient to get the necessities but also a nice activity within the city to do on the weekend. It is perfect to stroll around and simply enjoy the authentic atmosphere. Talking to the vendors also provides a good opportunity to use your French outside the French language course 😉
You should definitely not miss the diverse restaurant culture in Montpellier. As we all know a Vegan diet is amazing for the environment, but sometimes it can be a bit hard to find a place to eat. During your French language Stay in Montpellier you definitely have a lot of different options. Vegetarian is absolutely no problem at all an also vegan options are widely available. My favorites are Green Lab and Ikonka and Hybride. Green Lab has amazing and quite cheap Falafel specialties. With its tasteful interior it is a wonderful place to dine in but also offers takeaway options. This is especially great if you have French course in the afternoon as well. If you can’t resist sweet temptations, you definitely can`t miss out on the cake at Ikonka. Especially their carrot cake is incredible! To get coffee I recommend Hybride, where they have many milk substitutes for coffee and alternative options like Macha Latte as well.
If you stay at the student residence “l`Obsérvatoire”, you have your recycling station right around the corner, which makes it very easy to keep up with your recycling habits.