The Unnatural Habitat: Montpellier, France First Impressions

Bonjour from Montpellier! Now, I’ve been here for just over a week and experienced my first full week at a French university, which has been something, to say the least.

I figured I write you all a little post exploring some insights into French life I’ve experienced so far. Admittedly, I’m not sure if these are experiences related to the whole of France but they’re certainly things that I’ve noticed myself.

So firstly, it would be wrong not to mention the weather. I know the UK has been having a bit of a late heatwave, but I genuinely did not expect Montpellier to be as warm as it currently is. I’m sure cooler months are coming but I very much doubt they’ll reach the same lows as I’m used to. It’s also slowly occuring to me that I’ve brought way too many jumpers and not enough t-shirts so may have to take some of my jumpers home with me and do a little swap.

I’m also trying to get used to the prices out here, rather than constantly trying to work out how much would that be in pounds. I think on a whole the cost of living is definitely more than I’m used to (at the very least, my rent is double what I’ve been paying in Cardiff). I am definitely in need of finding somewhere cheaper to do my grocery shopping, I’m missing Cathay’s Lidl big time, but I’ll have to travel a bit further to reach my closest Lidl now. I mean there is one around somewhere, but it’s further than I’d like to travel, but also cheaper than the supermarkets near me. Weighing up time and effort vs money.

Something I’ve been loving about Montpellier is the superb tram system. Coming from a city that doesn’t have a tram, this is a huge excitement. I’m used to buses that don’t turn up on time (if they turn up at all), so having reliable, working public transport is a real treat. However, it doesn’t seem to be common courtesy to wait for people to get off the tram before piling in, so I often find myself having to push my way through crowds to get off. Compared to the UK and Japan, this is really weird because everyone knows that you have to wait for people to get off before you enter.

The buildings in the centre of the city are also super beautiful! Shopping trips and dinners in the centre often leave me in complete awe of the architecture and I often can’t believe that I am going to be living here for nearly a year. There’s so many lovely old buildings and the city centre itself is much cleaner than I’d expect in France. It’s not quite on par with the Japanese level of cleanliness but I was certainly expecting more litter and dodgy looking pigeons. In fact, even the pigeons are actually quite nice to look at.

All in all, I’ve been super impressed by life in Montpellier so far, but I’m still finding my feet and settling in. I’ve also got a post planned about attending a French university, because there’s definitely a few things I wish I’d known in advance about that, and I had too many things to say to squish them in here.

To be honest this was a bit of a random post, rambling about a couple of my first impressions, but I hope to start getting out to explore a bit more and maybe I’ll even get writing some reviews of some tourist-y activities. However, I figured this would do for a quick introduction post to get me back into the habit of blog writing.

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