A spontaneous walk along the French Camino de Santiago
It’s me again, Jasmin. 🙂 Although I love to be every day in the beautiful and lively center of Montpellier to work at the French Language Immersion School ILA, I enjoy leaving the city on weekends to spend a day in the splendid nature around Montpellier. Here in the Languedoc-Roussillon region are really beautiful places to visit. To combine the whole thing with a little move around, I decided with my friend Anna from Australia, who is taking a French immersion program at ILA in Montpellier, to climb up the Pick Saint Loup. The Pick Saint Loup is THE mountain of Montpellier, as it is, with 658 meters, the highest spot in the area and can be seen from many places in the region. So it was highly motivated and with provisions in the backpacks, under the bright sunshine, that one Saturday morning we made our way to the tram station “Occitanie”, from which we took the but no. 108 which brings you in about 15 minutes to the village of “Les Matelles“. From there, we wanted to hike up the Pic Saint Loup, a total of 18km long hike according to the map.
But sometimes things go wrong – and we saw only the tail lights of the bus. We improvised and took the next tram to “Mosson” to take a bus from there to “Saint Guilhem-le-Desert”, officially called one of the most beautiful villages of France. The great thing about the regional public transport here in Montpellier is that there are many lines to incredibly beautiful places around Montpellier, and a ride on the “Herault Transport” bus costs only 1,60 €. It is very student-friendly and during your French immersion program in Montpellier, a very cost-effective way of getting to places outside Montpellier.
After less than half an hour we had reached the historic mountain village of Saint-Guilhem-le-Desert. As briefly described in my first article about my internship at the French Language Immersion School ILA, Montpellier is surrounded by a beautiful mountain landscape, which is ideal for hiking. Because it was already 10 am there, the village was still pleasantly empty and it smelt of freshly baked bread and good coffee. So first, we strolled through the narrow streets enjoying the typical French atmosphere. This village is incredible beautiful and a must visit during your French language immersion program in Montpellier.
Just beyond the village rise impressive mountains and as we did not realize before, the famous French Camino de Santiago is just around here. In French this is called “Le Chemin de St. Jacques de Compostelle“. Since we had planned a bit of a walk anyway we spontaneously followed this walk for about 2 hours uphill and were rewarded with stunning views. We met many pilgrims in hiking gear, who greeted us with a friendly smile every time, so we had the feeling to have made even a small pilgrimage ourselves!
The rather intense midday sun made us return back to the village and we found a shady spot right on the river and had a typical French picnic. After having relaxed a bit, we took the free shuttle bus to the bridge “Le Pont du Diable“, in English “Devil’s Bridge“. You drive along the beautiful turquoise mountain river “Herault”, where you can also take wonderful canoe trips. Near the bridge is a small turquoise lake where you can swim and take wonderful pictures of the bridge and the “Herault” valley!
Just around the corner from the bridge are the caves of “Grotte de Clamouse“, one of France’s most impressive cave’s with wonderful stalactite formations. However, the weather was too good and we rather prefered finishing our day in the fresh air in a small cafe with a delicious French apple pie. I will visit the cave definitely some other time when I come back to this beautiful area. I also plan a canoe tour in this beautiful canyon. Some of my friends taking a French course at ILA will join me.
During your French language immersion in Montpellier you should really visit Saint-Guilhem-le-Desert and its wonderful surrounding. It is not far away, easy to reach and definitely worth a full day! You will discover one of the most beautiful places in France during your French language stay here!
Bye for now