I feel very lucky to be doing my French Intensive course for adults here in Montpellier as for me it has a perfect balance of metropolitan energy and refreshing gorgeous countryside. In this article, I will focus on the latter and where you can look to find great walks around this beautiful region of the South of France. I have discussed Le Gazette Magazine in a previous article and it has a great section on Balades (walks) that I have found very useful at giving me ideas of where to go.
Gazette has a couple of in-depth articles about a specific area within the region or if there is anything particularly pertinent to nature seekers happening soon. For example, the area in question for this week is Saint-Christol; a little village about a half an hour drive away from Montpellier. The page dedicated to it has a few beautiful photos that act as good inspiration to get out there into the ‘campagne’ (countryside). There’s also a very useful map with all the useful spots noted including chateaus and vineyards where it is normally possible to book a tasting or a tour of the winery, see the vines or just chat to the very talented producers of the region. For the examined walk around Saint-Christol they have written a descriptive step-by-step guide to a walk that takes you right around the town touching on all the important points or sights with a little bit of detail. The route is also displayed on the map so you could in theory just fly out the door with nothing but one sheet of the Gazette and be alright! Finally, there are all the stats (duration, difficulty etc.) for the walk in question so you can see at a glance if it’s right for you. I really look forward to these weekly suggestions even though I have only done a few of them but it’s nice to see what is around the area and see what really takes my fancy.
Meet Some French Locals While You Tread the Paths of Occitan
Also the magazine has an interesting mix of organised walks and gives you the very basic information on a good heap of them. You can see at a quick glance the difficulty level and where to meet if you are interested, most of them depart from public transport hubs and are very easy get to. There are a mix of start times so if you’re the type who likes to get up and get going straight away the morning is yours but if you’re a slow riser why not go for an afternoon stroll after a long lie-in. These also double up as a great way to practice your French as you will meet other walkers who will often be locals so you can have a nice chat as you stroll around the beautiful countryside of Montpellier. The chance to practice what you have been learning on your French course is a big advantage of going on these organised walks. The pool of walkers is a bit like a community and you will get to know the same faces if you start to go regularly so you have the possibility to create some longer-standing relationships with the natives.
I almost forgot to say the Gazette is entirely in French so it also makes for a good exercise for the French students of Montpellier. The practical details are all simply arranged so if you just want the basic information it’s pretty simple but as always, I would encourage you to give reading the whole thing a go. It’s a specific topic so once you have learnt the vocabulary once you will have it forever and after reading it for a couple of weeks you will laughing!
Montpellier has some beautiful nature to offer so when you have finished your French immersion course for the week get out there and enjoy a bit of it. Go with friends from the French language school and practice what you have learned in your French Intensive course that week or go with a group of natives and put your skills to the test! Either way it’s well worth doing while you’re here in Montpellier.