Before you start reading this, I must warn you there is an overload of photos at the end … he he!!!
The people from Montpellier are called Montpellierains or Montpelleriennes. I speak relatively good French but even for me I’ve found these two words a little bit of a mouthful, there is a fair bit of tongue twisting going on, I think I’m getting there.
So today I thought I would introduce you to the Montpellierians. They certainly aren’t the archetypal French people that immediately spring to mind. I have yet to see a French man on a bicycle wearing a beret and a stripy t-shirt with string of onions around his neck and no they don’t greet you with ‘Allo allo’!
Well welcome to Montpellier, a breath of fresh air, here the French are cool, laid back, chilled, smart, funny and above all extremely approachable and friendly. Now then, is it that they live in a region where they have approximately 300 days of fine weather a year? Is it because they have numerous beaches within a bike ride away? Is it because the city is full of youthful students? Is it because they have a city that fills up with happy tourists, I’m sure all of these things help, but they, like, the rest of us, must have their daily worries, there unemployment down here, they have bills to pay, they have family problems, the economy is tough and yet the Montpellierians smile a lot.
When you walk into a shop/waiting room/ office in France, it’s customary to say ‘Bonjour’ to the people who are already in the shop, in Paris, you’re lucky if you get a grunt in reply, here you get a wide smile, a reply and even a bit of banter.
We’ve had enough contact now with estate agents, and I can call myself a bit of a connoisseur in this field. First thing that you must realise here, is that you can leave your name and telephone number as often as you like, the chances of anyone ringing you back are nil. In fact at one stage I was waiting nervously at home with a pen and paper at the ready, my French polished up, just waiting for the phone to ring, I had left my number with 17 different people, I waited and I waited and I waited, you know what’s coming right? Yep, not one phone call!! A total waste of time.
However, what we have found is once we have found the person we need to speak to they will go out of their way to look after us, the information they have given us has been priceless.
One of the local business women in our street, a very chic, classy French lady, will always, no matter what time of day, stop, say hello, ‘faire la bise’ (kiss on the cheek) and ask how we are, chat about things in general and is a joy to meet. It’s a good feeling, it makes us feel as though we belong. As for the kissing malarkey, here in Montpellier it’s customary to do 3 kisses, it’s 2 in Paris and I believe it’s 4 in Bordeaux so you can imagine when we meet up with friends all the kissing takes some time, but it’s a lovely custom, it gives you the time to say hello properly to each and every person, look them in the eye and make proper contact. I find it so much better than walking into a group and just saying a general ‘Hi’ to everyone. I like it.
Some of the loveliest people we’ve met here have been our friends. I know that sounds odd, but these are people that we met over 30 years ago when we both in our early twenties and we met them maybe a total of 4 or 5 times at large gatherings, they were friends of friends and so we haven’t known them very well at all. These two couples have gone out of their way to make us feel welcome, they helped us through the heat wave by turning up unannounced weighed down with air conditioning units. They have lent us their bikes, They have shown us where to catch the tram, they have taken us swimming in the river, they have taken us on mega bike rides and they have helped us climb mountains and ravines. They have shown us the best beaches, restaurants, shops and markets. They have opened up their homes to us and included us in a way that is way beyond anything we could have possibly hoped for. They have made ‘moving to Montpellier’ a joy.
I could go on, as I’m sure you know but I have a variety of photos that I want you to see, from some of our lovely outings in and around this fabulous city.
These photos are the were taken on a 40 kilometre bike ride to the beach and beyond!!!
These following photos were taken a few days ago, we walked up into the mountains down a very steep bank down to the riverbed and back up the other side, my legs are only just recovering!!! We were told the walk was called ‘The ravine of the arch’ I should’ve guessed, the clue was in the name!!!