If you’re planning to learn French in France at a French school in Montpellier, regardless if it is for the DELF exam, business French, or simply standard French Course, you will probably want to save some time to explore the city. In fact, I bet you’ve already typed “ Top things to do in Montpellier” or if on the other hand, you’ve already arrived you’ve probably visited the tourist office or ask in the reception of the ILA French school to suggest places to go. Great, you have the touristy list of things that interest you. But, when you’re taking French courses for over 3 months, as I am, the city gets a bit smaller and you start to cross out almost every plan. In my experience, the best way to truly live the city is to ditch that list, Trip Advisor and Google maps. Simply get lost. Over time, you will have a new, improved, list of things to do over your French language stay that appeals more to you. One where you’ll definitely have other places to go out with the friends you meet at the French school different from the Australian Bar. Here I’d like to share a short –very short indeed- glimpse of my list.
A better list of things to do in Montpellier
Munch a Brunch!
Saturday or Sunday, no French course, and so many options. During that time I have been in the French school I’ve only tried a few. There’s Fairview coffee, Extra Shot (great croissants), Le Hood, Cold Rip, Ma premier Cantine…
Top 3: Cold Rip
Top 2: La Panacee
Top 1: Bonobo. Why? Pancakes. They’re amazing! Paired with either organic tea or a warm tea, it is perfect for a lazy Sunday morning (or afternoon). However, they have quite varied options that sound incredibly good. It is cozy, with great music and the staff is the most welcoming and kind in the city.
I cannot deny that I am a hopeless romantic, but one cannot deny that colorful sunsets are somehow magical. In your touristy list there is probably Park du Peyrou written somewhere, make sure you add the following note: buy a bottle of good wine, a baguette and enjoy the sunset. It is one of the best plans you can do with your friends from your French courses. If your looking for something a bit more “dreamy”, go to the Corum building. Their you go: a beautiful scenery of Montpellier that extends to the horizon. However, my favorite is definently Étang de Perols, located right before Carnon Plage and extending towards the West, perfect to watch the sun sink into the water. It is absoulutley stunning, a bit more quiet and private, plus you might see a few flamingoes that match the sky. Another option, where you can also go for a drink, is up the Lighthouse of the Mediterranean at Palavas-les-Flots. There, you’ll see the ocean meet the Étang from up above.
Le Jardin du Plantes is another place likely to be recommended to you and yes, I find it to be a stunning place in Montpellier set in a very beautiful location of the city. Yet another cheesy idea, (this is MY list after all) I dare you to find the beautiful tree of wishes. Being quite small, you’ll have to truly be on the lookout in order to find it, which I think makes it even more special. Make sure to take a little piece of paper and a pen with you and write a wish of your own to set amongst the others in its trunk.
Truly a glimpse into Wonderland, the toy store Pomme de Reinette et Pomme d’Api is a very special place. A must during you language school, it is a vintage store, in fact one of the first toy stores in France, with thousands of details that will be sure to make you feel like a kid again.
Be a book worm (or not)
Basically just visit the Emilio Zola Mediatheque for once. The architecture is very nice and it offers tons of amazing books, movies, music, conferences and so many other things. It is a prefect place to catch up with your studies for the French DELF exam or to review a bit of French. If you sign up, you’ll even get access to extra resources that will be very useful for leveling up you French quickly during you stay and preparing for you French course. With a stunning view over trees and the city skyline, I assure you’ll enjoy taking some time to sit and read what ever you like. This could also be a very calm spot to watch the sunset.
For 18+ students at the ILA French School
For your first time out, bar hopping is usually the best thing to do in order to discover what places meet your style. My favorite thing is that there is ALWAYS live music somewhere in Montpellier. Make sure to keep an eye out for the posters all over the streets, maybe you’ll find something truly interesting. If are taking French courses during December, you might want to have a look at the programme for one of the biggest Techno festivals in France “I Love Techno”. Another alternative is to check out the website “Mamasound.fr” where you’ll find all the performances of the day. Nevertheless, may I suggest “Los Parigos” as a cool place to hang out and grab a cocktail. You will definitely enjoy the music and the atmosphere. If you want to have a laugh, right across you’ll find Espit Chupitos, originally form Barcelona, its crazy amount of original 2 euro shots is the place to go. (Make sure to order the “Finding Nemo” shot.)
As you can imagine, the list goes on. Have fun during your French language stay in Montpellier and make sure to let your self go and get lost in the wonderful city of Montpellier.