By Monika Salita
@monikasalita or About Monika
When I first arrived in Montpellier, France, one of the most valuable things I did for myself regarding learning more about my new home base (thanks to the guidance of some kind souls at the prefecture) was to visit the Pôle Universitaire; otherwise known as the student center for the city’s three main university campuses.
I was guided to use information available at the student center, because the employees at the prefecture knew that the center would serve as an excellent resource from which to garner information geared at helping foreign transplants to Montpellier ease their transition. It is also somewhere where you can do this among other foreign students and residents, with the guidance of the skilled and knowledgeable young people who run the center.
From the student center, I gathered information on some of the following local resources:
– Montpellier’s French-American Center. This center is run by French and Anglophone citizens (not just Americans as the name might lead one to imagine). Its goals include: connecting French and English language partners with one another; hosting weekly tea and discussion circles; providing information on local internships, summer camp and au pair work opportunities; hosting many holiday and cultural events and so much more.
– Le Bookshop English-language bookstore, tucked away on one of Montpellier’s quaint cobblestone streets. This shop provides a warm and friendly environment for enjoying coffee or tea, perusing the latest additions in French or English literature (for entertainment or learning purposes), and it even hosts live readings from featured authors. I was fortunate enough to attend a reading by Stephen Clarke, British author of his Merde series of books, which recount tales of living, loving and learning in France.
– Additionally, the local tourism office is a great place to speak with someone about the city on a more in-depth level, in addition to
gaining information on other youth centers in town, for example. The tourism office’s website is also packed full of quality information.
Now that you are hopefully settled into the city a bit better, it is important to explore a city via fun, new leisure activities. Working as a TEFL teacher isn’t all work and no play. I promise.
Listed below is a smattering of some of my favorite leisure attractions and activities in Montpellier.
– Musée Fabre. Montpellier’s Fabre Museum is an architectural attraction in and of itself, mixing classic and contemporary architecture. Some of over 800 pieces of art displayed at the museum include 15th-20th century paintings, with a number of Fauvist pieces, and a sizeable collection of sculptures and ceramic pieces.
-Piscine Olympique. If you are sporty and looking for some exercise, Montpellier’s beautiful pool is a great place for swimmers to practice some laps. There is also a water slide and a health club on site, which users can learn about if interested.
-Le Rockstore. Situated down a side street in the heart of the city, Le Rockstore is a great smaller concert venue at which to delight your ears with some excellent live music. I was able to see California band, Cold War Kids, perform here with their Icelandic opening act, Hjaltalín.
– Catch a film at the Diagonal cinema. The Diagonal cinema is the ultimate place in which to feast your eyes on some new foreign films, or catch up on recent mainstream releases, all played in their native language, whether it be English, French or another language.
TAKE A BREAK AND RELAX
– For some zen time, visit Montpellier’s beautiful botanical garden. Created in 1593, it is one of Europe’s oldest botanical gardens and has served as a model for other gardens which followed it.
– Hop aboard a regional bus for a quick ride over to the beaches of the Mediterranean Sea. Once at tram stop Port Marianne, walk over to the nearby bus stop and take regional bus 106 for example which should drop you off at the seaside in a mere 15-20 minutes.
– Stroll the Place de la Comédie, settle into a bar or café for an evening drink; two of my favorites include Vert Anglais and Rebuffy.
Two of the city’s central squares – Place de la Comédie and Place de l’Europe are excellent areas in which to wander and discover a variety of bars, pubs, wine bars and even tea rooms at which to sit back and enjoy one’s self.
Now that you’re armed with helpful tips, I encourage you to go out and explore all that Montpellier or your city has to offer, and become intertwined with the colorful threads of your city’s everyday life. You never know what kind of surprise lies around that mysterious corner until you dare to look.