After arriving on campus in Montpellier, I soon found that everyone else on the program was experiencing the same thing as I was. We were all exhausted. I woke up in the hotel and had my first French breakfast from the hotel buffet. It consisted of a baguette with jam, two yogurts and a madeleine cookie. I then checked out of the hotel and called a taxi to the dorms. I only had 37 euros and was hopeful that this would be enough for the ride. The slight amount of anxiety that I had about it made me realize that keeping cash on my person was something I was going to have to actively remember to do.
The first day at the dorms consisted of a short tour of the surrounding area, unpacking and setting up my room. Later in the afternoon, a friend and I decided to venture downtown. In order to take the bus, we had to stop at the Tabac for a bus ticket. As the man working there did not speak English, the interaction involved a lot of motioning and broken French. It ultimately ended well, though. We had relatively little trouble finding out which bus line to take there and back. We decided to get off at the “Arc de Triomphe” stop.
When we arrived downtown we were greeted by a city where palm trees lined the streets and the streets intertwined so much so that it was easy to become disoriented. We ventured the streets somewhat aimlessly and somehow found something new at the end of every street. Once, we turned around to go back up the street from which we thought we came. However, we accidentally stumbled upon La Place de Comedie, a beautiful square that is one of the most well-known in Montpellier.
The next day, we headed back downtown with the entire group for a walking tour of Montpellier. On the walking tour we visited a medieval Jewish ritual bath. This bath is filled with natural water that comes up through the rocks from the earth. The bath is underground and is built out of stone, so it maintains a constant cool temperature. Because of the walking tour, we were also able to walk up to the top of the Arc de Triomphe which gave an amazing view of the entire city. For dinner the group went to a restaurant downtown called Chouchou. Here, we were served rosé, white wine, baguettes, salads with chevre wrapped in what we assumed to be parmesan, steak and frites, and an apple tarte with ice cream on top.