If you are a rugby fan you’re probably already aware of the ‘Montpellier Hérault Rugby’ team. I have recently been getting more into rugby in my own country and wanted to get involved whilst here learning French in France. My host-family here in Montpellier is big fans of the team and offered to take me to a game and obviously I jumped at the chance. The team are doing very well at the moment and are in the top league in France so I was definitely going to get to see a good standard of sport and I can practice what I’ve been studying at my French language school. That’s why it is so easy studying French in France as you can go to do anything and simply through your interactions with the locals you can improve your French language skills.
A Fun Evening with my Host Family in Montpellier
My host family had been arranged for me by my French language school in Montpellier and they had been great. So warm welcoming but proactive and eager to help me on my journey to learn French in France. Pierre was the son of the family and one sunny Tuesday he asked if I wanted to come with him and his friend Guillaume to watch the rugby and we headed off on his scooter towards the Altrad Stadium which the team has been playing at since 2007.
The team were playing against Oyonnax; a city in the mid-east of the country near the Swiss border. Oyonnax are exploring the ocean floor of the Top 14 (the top league of the French rugby system) so the Montpellier supporters were hoping for a wash out.
The Altrad Stadium is a lovely modern arena that has the capacity for 14,700 fans. Some of the people from the student residence who are also here in Montpellier to study French had told me that it was a great stadium so I had been excited to come and I was finally here. It’s named after the current president of the club Mohed Altrad and it’s was just a 15 minute drive from my French immersion school in the centre of Montpellier or just a 40 minute walk if you fancy a stroll.
My First Sporting Event During my Language Stay in France
The game was brilliant fun. The team lead by coach Vern Cotter and captain Fulgence Ouedraogo absolutely smashed the easterners as expected but also put on a great display. The atmosphere was great, competitive but jovial without a lot of aggression you can often find at sporting events.
The stands were designed a little different from the stadiums I have been to in the UK with the seats being arranged a little steeper, this means that you don’t have to stretch your neck to see over the fans sat in front of you so a definite improvement in my eyes.
‘Les Cistes’ as the home team is known were a great team to watch and my French hosts who seemed technically knowledgable about the sport and me, a layman all enjoyed it. There were pitchers of beer served in the stands as well which was novel for me. The British had to stop this years ago as every game would end with any drinks served being thrown aggressively between the groups of fans. The French rugby fans however seem to have a bit more perspective and reserve the drinks for drinking, what a great idea!
The arena was still flowing with energy and you could see everyone was fixated on the game. So if you want to experience another facet of the culture here in Montpellier during your French Language course in France be sure to head on down to the Altrad Stadium with some other students for a fun evening watching some of the best rugby the country has to offer.