Hi there, dear readers! It is Giorgio writing! I’m a 17 year-old guy who’s been enjoying a two weeks French language stay in the astonishing Montpellier. I arrived here a week ago, so I would like to recount a bit what it’s been so far. As to my experience, I can tell you it began in the best possible way: a friend of mine, Matteo, and I, taking part together in this holiday, were kindly welcomed by our lovely Host family from the very first moment.
This has for sure contributed to make us feel like being at home, keeping in mind that on holiday it’s even better, as we are more free of doing the things we like the most. For example, we’re able to have jogging, go to the swimming pool as well as to the gym, go to the beach, visit such a new spectacular city and participate in the catchy activities proposed by the French language school ILA, our school, whom I’ll talk about later.
When we got here, and had a tour of Montpellier, it did exceed our wildest expectations. At first, we saw the Promenade de Peyrou. At the highest part of Montpellier and just west of the old walls, this square was designed during the reign of Louis XIV. There are lots of interesting details, like the statue of Louis XIV, which shows him on horseback extending his arm towards Spain. The 18th-century Château d’Eau is a monumental water tower fed by the Saint-Clement Aqueduct, which is 14 kilometers long and crosses the square. An interesting curiosity: Sundays there’s a flea market beneath the arches of the aqueduct, which is modelled on the legendary Pont du Gard.
Besides this, the large Place de la Comédie, in the very city center, has a lively ambience for its many bars, restaurants and shops. The Three Graces fountain in the middle shows the Charites from Greek mythology; which are an emblem for Montpellier. After a restorative coffee, the tour continued along the leafy walkways of the Esplanade Charles-de-Gaulle, fringing the square to the north. At night the restaurants and the imposing neoclassical buildings around the Place de la Comédie, like the Opéra national, are illuminated with deep blue lights, creating a strange effect, like something out of Blade Runner!
One of the things that gives Montpellier’s old center its class is a profusion of hôtels, extravagant 17th and 18th-century mansions.
In France it’s a city famed for style and panache, as you can tell from the snazzy trams designed by fashion star Christian Lacroix. You can come for a family break safe in the knowledge that your kids won’t be bored: There’s a highly-rated zoo and aquarium, and a chain of perfect sandy beaches on the coast just 15 kilometers away.
For a rural day-trip in a supreme natural setting, the medieval settlement of Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert is one of the “most beautiful villages” in France. It’s squeezed into a slender valley beneath a gorge where the Gellone meets the Hérault. Spend some time on these sleepy stone streets, where the houses are set off by the dramatic limestone landforms around them.
Moreover, there are some beautiful beaches over here which are easy to be joined. The city is in fact part of the charming, preserved coastline of beaches and marinas of the Mediterranean.
Finally, our French Intensive course for teenagers at the French immersion school ILA in Montpellier is great, since we can learn French very efficiently thanks to the methods of involvement used by the teachers. I attend here the Intensive Course for teens at C1 level, and I think that my level of language has really improved so far- a wide range of topics is covered, the conversation is definitely fluent and a particular attention is payed to vocabulary and pronunciation, the basis of a language. What’s more, the ILA French school also organizes some very enjoyable activities for students, such as a laser quest, la pétanque et des excursions of an entire day around the city which hosts us. So, if you look for a stay which has a proper values-for-money and where everybody is incredibly friendly and nice, this is what you may appreciate!
Montpellier is, at any time, the most seductive city in the French south – elegant, cultured and tolerant, with Mediterranean blood coursing through its veins and dynamism to spare. Lacking industry, the place has majored on brains and bravura. World-class architects are forever turning up to add showpieces. The trams – designed latterly by Christian Lacroix as moving tableaux – have been called “the sexiest in the world”. It takes a startling city to make trams sexy. Montpellier is the best place for a successful French language stay in the South of France.
Giorgio, Italia (ILA student)