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My Visit to the Mayor’s Office During My French Immersion Stay in Montpellier

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My Visit to the Mayor’s Office During My French Immersion Stay in Montpellier

So for the first time since I have been learning French in Montpellier I had the opportunity to take a look around the office of the top boss in Montpellier. No not the director of the ILA French language school, the other top boss; the mayor. There are a few weekends throughout the year where they open various sites for people to visit like the roof of the ‘arc de triomphe’, some of the old justice buildings, the mayor’s office and a few other places.

A girl who is also studying French in Montpellier asked me if I wanted to come along and explore some of these engine rooms of the city. I jumped at the chance as I love learning more about Montpellier, this has been the place where I have not only been learning the French language but learning about the French people. I have met many French people before but this is where I have actually started to build longer relationships and lay down roots in this beautiful country. I know it will stay with me long after I have left so I want to absorb as much as possible during my time here.

From French Classes to the Political World of France

So as we had our French intensive courses for adults until Thursday we decided to make use of the earlier finish on Friday and head across the river to the mayor’s office. Who are we? It was just two of us today; me and girl was Patricia, a Swiss girl who was very involved in the political scene of her home country. She has been working particularly in the field of youth politics.

When we arrived at the modern looking building we headed over to the reception to find out how much a tour might cost and were pleased to find out that there were free tours running every hour. The receptionist began speaking in English but then when he found out we were here in Montpellier to learn French she offered to switch back which we accepted. He went on to say there were two tours: one of the buildings itself and one of the mayor’s actual office. We signed up for both and headed off to see the group.

Beautiful Modern Building on The Riverside of Montpellier

Our little group of French students gather around the tour guide who was just about to start. Our timing was perfect. He started off by telling us a little bit about the different departments of the building and what was used for which service, no one was surprised when he told us that the mayor had his office on the very top of the building. Then he took us outside and explained that the area in general had had a lot of investment in the last couple of decades as they were trying to create another hub for business and development outside of the city centre. We asked him a few questions about the way they had done to achieve this. I was interested to find out but I also wanted an excuse to try out what I had learnt recently on my French immersion course. The economic theme of the conversation meant I could whip out my business French knowledge as well which doesn’t come around as often as I would like in my day to day encounters. When Patricia told him she was interested in politics he said he would enjoy the next tour.

He was absolutely right as well! The start of the next tour took us into a conference hall. Not just any old cheap room with practical uninteresting decor but an extremely grand, modern hall full of sleek, varnished wooden desks. Each desk was equipped with a microphone and as the tour guide demonstrated a retractable monitor. It felt like we were at the UN.

Then we got to the big one. The mayor’s office. A couple of impeccably dressed security guards accompanied us and made us aware that we weren’t allowed to take photos and not to touch anything and in we went. It was very political: pictures of Macron and former mayors around, flags and patriotic memorabilia all are surrounding the quintessential power desk. Jet black with a brand new computer perched on top. What gave the room a slightly warmer feel was a big football table in the back, it was fun to imagine the mayor of Montpellier relaxing with a few games at the end of the day.

The main feature though was the view. You could see over the entire city. It was brilliant and although the mayor probably stood and looked and planned various things for the future of the city I just looked and contemplated my choice of learning French in Montpellier. The beautiful view and the thought of the great friends like Patricia I have made on my French immersion course made me feel like it was the best decision I have ever made.