Part 9/Montpellier

Montpellier wasn’t really on my agenda before going out on this trip. Actually, prior to this trip if someone told me they were going to Montpellier, I would probably thought they were talking about the city in Vermont.

However, after booking a flight from Barcelona to Lisbon, I now needed to figure out a way to get from where I was at that point, Zurich, to Barcelona, and ideally avoid nine hour train days. Looking at a map, Montpiellier seemed like an ideal location, being on the train line between Lyon and Barcelona, and being about half way between the two.

Researching this further on Wikipedia told me that the city has a lively college scene, and that for the past several years is has been the fastest growing city in France. After reading that, I decided to give it a go. Also, being in the south of France, the temperature is typically several degrees warmer than it is in the other cities i considered for the French part of this trip, Lyon and Paris.

After getting off the train from Lyon, I walked over to the hotel, which was conveniently right next to the train station. In this case, that is not why I chose the hotel, knowing I was going to be here for three days, I knew I didn’t necessarily need to be near the train station. The hotel I chose was off of Hotel Tonight and it seemed convenient to the center of town also. So, I got checked in. Although the hotel is perfectly clean and quiet, I’m not sure it meets my standards of Hilton or better for this trip, given it appears that most of the rooms are hostels, with a few conventional hotel rooms spread in between.

Anyhow, I got one of the fancier hotel rooms of this establishment, so this will do. After getting myself set up in the hotel room, I headed out to the town square for a beer. At this point, one of the local pigeons hit me with splatter, and I decided it was probably best to head back to the hotel room and clean up. The pigeons clearly had other plans for me in Montpellier.

I got back to the room and did some quick hotel room laundry, watched some episodes of Friends in French, and then headed back out to see what was in the neighborhood, where I found Poutine House, that reminded me of my trips to Vancouver. So sure, why not have some poutine.


The following morning, I got up and attempted to find the local Starbucks. According to both the Starbucks App, and Apple Maps, there should have been one in the shopping mall adjacent to the town square. However, after getting there, and walking around for a while attempting to locate the place, I realized that this was a lost cause, and instead wandered around the town squire a bit more, and ultimately ended up at Cafe Riche, breaking my Starbucks streak, and having a Caffe Late and avocado toast.

Avocado Toast

Post breakfast I got on the tram and headed to the miniature Arc de Triomphe, as well as a giant statue of Louis the 14th, I guess every town in France needs those things.

I had lunch that day of fish and chips from Cafe de Arts, and some more beer. Perhaps it was the beer, but in spite of my efforts to avoid the cold parts of Europe for the later part of the trip, I was feeling a bit chilly, so i headed to Uniqlo to get a couple more shirts I could use for layering ,without having to go all out and buy a new heavier coat.

Returning to the hotel room, I then headed to a French post war photography exhibit, Metamorphose, happing in an area pavilion building.

Leaving that exhibit and coming back to the town square, there was band that started playing and was causing a tizzy with the local pigeon population. After yesterdays incident, the pigeons had it coming.

I then decided to try one of these numerous taco places that I had seen. French tacos are not really like what Americans would view as tacos at all. In fact, it’s almost like a burrito, then put on a panini press.

French Tacos

The following day I though I should take in and enjoy France, this being my last full day in the country. So, I spent a lot of time on the square, eatting baguettes, and doing French things, essentially lollygagging.

That morning I started with an espresso. I had given up on trying to find the town Starbucks at this point, and the local coffee shops don’t do the whole batch brewing thing, so, I got my caffeine the only way I knew of, in massive quantities with a minimal amount of liquid.

I then went off to explore the town outside the touristy areas. One of the reasons I chose to spend more time in Montpellier than Leon was to consider Montpellier as an alternate Euro early retirement destination, so to get a view of that I needed to see beyond just the places that the local tourism board wants you to see.

I in an effort to be more French, I had a Nutella baguette for lunch, and walked around town munching on that, since that is apparently a thing the locals do.

After going back to the hotel, and briefly chatting with my wife over FaceTime, I went out and got some more French Tacos for dinner that night.

The following day was my train to Barcelona. I had booked the travel day and train on the rail app, however, this trip required reservations. Unfortunately, for this trip, the only way Eurail could do reservations is with a paper ticket, which they were not able to do, since there wasn’t time to physically mail a paper ticket to me. Really, its 2022, why are you still using paper tickets.

Instead, I went to the Rail Europe site, which was able to do an electronic ticket over my phone, however, that meant buying a separate train ticket from Montpellier to Barcelona, essentially now I had two tickets for the same train, but only one of them came with an actual seat assignment. Fine, I suppose.

That morning, after getting the train ticket situation sorted out, I headed back to Caffe Riche for a croissant and double expresso. I followed this up with some more lollygagging around the town.

Espresso and croissant

The night before, Greenpeace had plastered over all the electronic billboards in town that they are essentially a waste of energy on advertising, in a time when Europe and France as a whole was being asked to save energy because of their current energy crisis. I generally am a fan of electronic billboards, however thinking about it, they seem to have a valid point.

Greenpeace thingies

After wandering around town a bit more, it was time to check out of my hotel, and head next door to the train station to catch my train to Barcelona. The train was delayed by 25 minutes, so, in the meantime, I grabbed myself another baguette while waiting for the train.

Finally, the train arrived, and I was on my way to the next phase of my trip, Barcelona.

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