Well, here as promised is my post all about noise in Montpellier. It’s not something you can ignore that’s for sure! Montpellier is the city of music.
We somehow managed to time our arrival in Montpellier (unknowingly) so that it coincided with ‘The Festival of Music’. Don’t get me wrong, we both love music but little did we know that the flat we had rented was on a square, adjacent to the city’s music academy and where there were to be concerts every night and even events during the day! It was music a go go from Day 1. I’ve come to realise that not only do I not like all music but also music is only good when ‘you’ can choose what ‘you’ want to listen to!
And so on evening number one, we had a concert of young classical artists, it was a delight, the second night, slightly older children, the third night an adult classical concert, it was absolutely fantastic! Then came the rest, we had punk, rock, reggae, brass, jazz, garage. grunge you name it we had it – in spades (whether we wanted it or not). Not only did we have the concerts to contend with but also individual musicians who would just randomly turn up, sit outside our window (we’re on the ground floor) and play their instrument of choice, sax, guitar, flute, double base, bongos, drums, bassoon, if you can think of an instrument you can be sure that I’ve had one on my doorstep, on one occasion we even had a didgeridoo!!
Then of course we have the music academy with windows wide open, we often wake up to high-pitched sopranos going through the scales, over and over again, out of another window will be someone repeatedly playing a repetitive rift on a guitar and another window will offer us some form of plonking on the piano, add to this the screaming and laughter of children chasing pigeons around the square, the chatter of people catching up with each other at the local cafes and restaurants, the high-pitched buzz of the obligatory French mopeds shooting by at an alarming rate, add to that a bin lorry emptying the recycled glass bin and bingo, t’s a veritable cacophony!!!
Initially it was very exciting and vibrant and in fact it still is but trying to hold a conversation when our windows are open is virtually impossible and inevitably ends up in us shouting at each other in order to be heard. I don’t worry what the neighbours must think as they are probably the same! If we watch the TV, we have no option than to up the volume so much that anyone coming to the flat would think we are deaf, I have taken to displaying subtitles!! You would think, ‘Ah well at least we can recuperate at night’ Well, NO!!! This racket goes on and on, and up until mid September and even now on the occasional evening it can go on until 3,4 or even 5 in the morning! People playing music, dancing, laughing, at normal daytime levels!! One thing I really must add at this point is that although I sound as though I’m complaining, it’s very difficult to be angry as all of this is carried out with such good humour, no drunkenness, no foul language after all it’s just people having fun!!
As I type we have someone playing David Bowie’s ‘Major Tom’ and it’s so loud, it’s quite unbelievable! There is someone practising on their violin (not very well I may add!) and someone further down the street is playing a tango. There’s a couple of dogs barking and there are children jumping on the wooden steps just below our window and a van has just revved up to get up the hill as though it were climbing Everest! At least now, not only are we getting used to it, and loving it but as the weather is slightly cooler at night we’re able to close the windows (which thank heavens are double glazed) and get some really good sleep!
There are ways to escape this, that is to leave the square and go for a walk or a ride on a bike. This way we find the quiet back streets, the calm and secluded squares and courtyards, just walking around enjoying the architecture, the river bank, the park, brocante markets and food markets (still hubbub but a different type of hubbub!) and on leaving Montpellier there are just so many things to see and do, the beaches, the seaside towns, the mountains, the little villages, the rivers, the back country with all the vineyards, I think you would have to live here a lifetime in order to experience it all.
Last week, some friends took us to the Festival of Alternatiba, what I would call a Green Festival. It was fabulous, a little village of tents and stalls had been set up in a local shaded park. There were all sorts of goings on, stalls selling organic food, to stalls explaining about green house effects, the ‘graine’ which is a local currency they would like to introduce in Montpellier, (along the same lines as the Bristol Pound back in the UK), they had working ‘dry toilets’ not that I needed to use them, but apparently they work a treat. We had such a good time that on my return I wrote a letter to the local gazette and they featured it this week along with one of my photos (albeit a very small one)
Here’s some photos of our day out, click to activate slideshow …
I’m just loving this town, every night I go to bed and I wonder what tomorrow will bring?