I love going for walks in the areas around Montpellier. After a hard week of preparing for the DELF exam at the ILA French Immersion School in Montpellier winding down with a day in the sunny countryside of southern France is a tonic for soul. I feel obligated to soak up as much of this gorgeous Mediterranean weather as possible before I return to my island north of the channel. A place which I love but also of which Monet once said he was in awe over; due to the variation of different types of grey! Now I think Monet was saying it in a positive way but without artist’s eyes blue skies are a lot easier to appreciate than grey ones. One place you can find a whole load of different walks to enjoy is Lodève just north-west of Montpellier.
The vast majority of people who come to Montpellier to do a French language stay are carless (not careless) and rely on public transport to get around. One thing too bear in mind here is that the Hérault is one of the more rural parts of France. The comprehensive, modern and easy-to-use tram system you have probably used in the centre of Montpellier does not continue far out into the countryside; as nice as that would be. So instead you have to rely on buses to get further out, on the Hérault public transport website you can download a plan of the entire network:
The plan is very useful and an essential tool if you are going to navigate the region. One thing to bear in mind though is that there are almost no buses on Sundays, in fact it seems that on this day everything grinds to a holt in France.
The nearby town of Lodève really is great for ramblers. They have some classic well-trodden walks so you can enjoy lots of clear signposts and amenities along the way as you circle this gorgeous area. Have a look at some of the pictures from the website below; it really does get you in the mood to get out there and see it:
Here on the website you can find a few different ideas for walks and places to explore but to get you started a couple of the more established ones are:
- ‘Le plateau du Grézac’
- ‘Le livre du Lodévois’
There are museums and beautiful old castles in this area into which I will discuss further in another article but the landscapes here are stunning. There are rolling hills of vibrant green fields and forests that look like the true image of idyllic French country life, with little communities snuggled in the various valleys. Also, lots of lakes surrounded by blood red earth which, in the low light at the end of a day look other worldly. This is one of the things I find particularly attractive about Lodève; it’s contrast. The mix of colours and different types of terrain mean it is quite an eye-catching place and at different times throughout the day the area takes on a different character. I think if Monet liked London for its grey he would have loved Lodève for its light.
So, there is one area to get you started if you are looking for a place to do some hiking whilst you are in Montpellier learning French. It’s reasonably easy to get to and not too far away and it is bedded in the hills of Hérault so you can get that feeling of tranqulity that will leave you feeling recharged and ready for another week on your French immersion course.