For the third weekend of the program, I decided to stay in Montpellier. After having traveled for the past two weekends I was more than happy to relax in the city that had become my home base. This also gave me time to experience the city, that I do not typically have during the week.
On Thursday, after classes, I went to the Odysseum. The Odysseum is a huge mall in Montpellier. It is a bit out of the way – a tram ride away from downtown. The mall was quite similar to mega-malls in the United States. One aspect that was different from what I have seen in the United States, was that there was no ceiling on the upper floor. This allowed the mall to feel more like an outdoor experience. The stores were essentially quite similar to the ones that would be found in an American mall. However, there were some stores that were European brands that I had not shopped in before.
That night, I had a picnic in the park near the Arc de Triomph with friends. We drank wine and ate bread, cheese and fruit as the sun went down. We were able to people watch and feel like we were a part of the city.
On Friday, a group of six of us decided to go for a hike in the mountains near Montpellier. We woke up early and took the bus as far as it would take us towards the mountain. We ended up on the outskirts of Montpellier in a small town, a few kilometers from the mountain. Eventually, we were able to find our way there. We walked through a quiet, small French village at the foot of the mountain that was an interesting place to see. The hike itself was absolutely amazing. It was quite steep and rocky, but the views were breathtaking and proved to be worth it. We hiked up to old castle ruins, something that could never be done back home.
Saturday was spent relaxing on the beach near Montpellier. We were able to get there by taking a bus and a tram, it took around 45 minutes. On Sunday, we walked downtown to visit the botanical gardens. On the way there, we stumbled upon a flea market. Most of the vendors were selling antiques and vintage pieces, which was fun to browse through. When we made it to the botanical gardens, it was beautiful. It featured many tropical looking plants, as well as a pond with huge, tall lily pads.