After a short adjustment period and much exploration around the city, I’m happy to report that we now have some structure in our lives. We even found a couple of ‘favourites’!
At first glance, Montpellier is a perfect combination of the old and the new. If you look closely though, you can find street art everywhere, ranging from large-scaled graffiti to Space Invaders (well-known ceramic tile art inspired by video games). Word on the street is that if you locate all the Space Invaders in Montpellier and plot them on a map, it forms the shape of a giant Space Invader.
My personal favourite however is Mr. BMX, who installs half bikes on buildings all over the city. It brings out the young and funky vibe of Montpellier, which is fitting considering the large population of students. When we explore a new neighbourhood, I’m always on the look out for bikes popping out of walls! Turning his back on money and fame, Mr. BMX chooses to remain anonymous.
As predicted, Marc and I are taking advantage of the freshly baked baguettes and viennoiseries (aka croissants and other delicious baked goods). I remember being puzzled at the sight of Parisians munching on a plain baguette during my first trip to France – I now do the same thing! Aside from the superior taste, French bread doesn’t leave you feeling bloated. In Canada, we had to limit our consumption of bread because of the way they made us feel afterwards. Did you know that compared to North American flours, some French flours contain half the amount of gluten? Apparently the yeast is different too. It’s interesting to read that a lot of people can tolerate the bread in France but not in North America. Food for thought…
Contrary to when we were in Canada, we often find ourselves taking a café, having long philosophical conversations and people-watching on a warm afternoon. (The winter here is honestly like Canadian autumn, score!)
Promenade du Peyrou is one of my favourite spots so far. Built right in front the Arc de Triomph, it is a spacious hang out spot at the highest point of Montepellier, with a statue of Louis XIV and a water castle. It is one of Montpellier’s “havre de paix”, a place where you can sit and relax, away from the city centre.
Cool story: The original statue of Louis XIV was made of high quality bronze – so good that during the French revolution (only 70 years later), it was melted and turned into eight canons to support “la Revolution”! Under the King’s orders, it was forbidden to build anything in Montpellier higher than him (he meant the statue of him ;)). Even today, under Montpellier law, the Promenade must remain the highest point of the city.
By the way, I started my French classes two weeks ago and I’m loving it so far! Learning a new language definitely has its ups and downs, but I will leave that for another time.
À la prochaine!