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5 years in Montpellier

Published by flag-fr State Farm — 4 years ago

0 Tags: flag-fr Erasmus experiences Montpellier, Montpellier, France

Hello everyone,

I would like to share my experience with you about the beautiful city of Montpellier. I feel very lucky to have lived and studied viticulture and oenology for the past 5 years there so I am excited for you to experience what this city has to offer. If you pick Montpellier, you will not regret it!

In this post, I’m going to write about my personal experience with school life, party life, to do, places to go eat, drink and hang out. I’ll finish this post with what you can expect when living in Montpellier.



I finished my bachelor’s degree at the university of Montpellier 2 (UM2) and I did my master’s degree at the Institut de Haute Ecole de la Vigne et du Vin (IHEV) in SupAgro.

What you can expect at UM2

  • Facilities: the buildings are run down and the seats in the lecture halls become uncomfortable after a couple of hours. The labs aren’t the best as they haven’t been updated in quite a while.
  • Library: I really enjoyed their library. The staff is helpful and kind. The building is spacious and calm. They have enough outlets. There are computers at your disposition, you can print/copy/scan and they have private rooms for group work. They have all the books you need, in multiple copies, and sometimes in the English version. If they don’t have a book that you are looking for, if it exists in another library, the staff can order it for you. It is open from 8am to 7pm on the week day and from 9am to 5pm on Saturdays.
  • Sport: they have a sport center. It’s about 20 euros for the whole year.
  • Classes: my schedule was breezy so I had a lot of free time. My classes were in both lecture halls and in small classrooms. My teachers were all researchers. I learned a lot from them. I really sensed their enthusiasm in their own work and specialties. They are helpful individuals when it comes to needing further information or explanation.

What you can expect at SupAgro

First of all, SupAgro is great for its history and scientific research. In 1870, Louis Pasteur delivered lectures there. It is though his scientific work on silkworm breeding that brought him to the Institute. You can find his lecture hall, untouched since he left, in the main building to the left of the dining hall.


In 1876, when Phylloxera devastated all of the French and European vineyards, 3 professors from SupAgro saved the vineyards. The minister of Agriculture sent Pierre Viala on a great mission to the USA to search for a vine that can resist the Phylloxera and grow on the French soil. The chosen one came from Texas. Gustave Foex and Louis Ravaz took care of the research of the different species that Pierre had brought.

Check out the monument below. You’ll see an old woman representing the French specie of vine, Vitis vinifera, and the young woman, representing the American specie, Vitis berlandieri. The American specie is saving the French specie.


  • Facilities: the class rooms and laboratories are relatively new. I have no complaints. I really enjoyed the dining hall for the variety of food choices and the quality/price value.
  • Library: It is small and the staff isn’t very helpful. There are a few computers at your disposition. I don’t recommend using the private group work rooms as the walls aren’t isolated. So you can’t speak at a regular level without being bothered for noise complaint. I didn’t use it as I find it limited in books. To study I recommend using the computer rooms whenever they aren’t used for classes. They are open from Monday to Saturday until 8pm. There is also a hangout room across the library, down the stairs. It is pretty quiet and the opening hours are the same as for the computer rooms. I spent a lot of studying hours in there.
  • Sport: They have a variety of sport options such as rugby, tennis, badminton, rock climbing, etc.
  • Classes: I was in an Erasmus course so my classes were taught in English. I had a large amount of teachers from around the world teaching their specialties. It was an amazing experience and a great way to get contacts. The teachers have different ways of teaching and have different ways of grading, so I’m unable to explain the harshness of the grading system. All I noticed is that the French teachers ended up being the hardest graders.

Overall, I’m proud to be a future alumni from this faculty.

Other general expectations from French universities

  • Don’t expect to receive your diploma right away. All you can ask for before you leave is an attestation from your coordinator saying that you have succeeded your year. I graduated 3 years ago and my diploma is still not ready.
  • Grading and exams: the grading system is from 0 to 20. You will need a minimum of 10 to pass a class. When it comes to grading, French teachers are harsh. You can expect the average student to have below a 15/20 average. I have had teachers telling me that 11/20 is a good grade… What do they look for: when you answer a question, you need to give details and talk about where, what, when, who, how, why. Even if the question doesn’t ask you for it. They want you to show off everything that you know in details and using all the keywords that the professor has taught you.

School life and where to study

My schedule for my bachelor’s degree was breezy but I had to use a lot of my free time to study. My master’s degree was intense with not a lot of down time and a lot of studying.

I think it is important to be capable of balancing your free time to fool around and your personal study time. I would say that the hardness of school life is depended on what your goal is: great or passing grades. Overall it isn’t easy breezy. If you want the grades, you need to work.

When it came to studying, I needed to get out of my room. Procrastination levels are way up in there! So I had two options depending on my finances. If I didn’t have a lot to spend, I would either go into the library, computer room or the hang out room of my university. They were close to my residence (a few minutes’ walk) therefore. I would eat, get coffee and go back out to study. It was the cheaper way for me. If I did have the finance, I really enjoyed hanging out and studying at the following café:

  • Home coffee: It’s downtown on Grand rue Jean Moulin. I like this place for its comfort, quietness and latte! They have the best latte in Montpellier. I scoped everywhere in the city and they have my vote! I would order a latte, go upstairs and sit in one of their comfy chairs. I would spend the entire day there. I don’t recommend arriving during peak time, which is around lunch time, you might not find a seat and it gets a bit louder. They also have wifi and outlets. Though, they had a period of time where their wifi wasn’t reliable…
  • Columbus café: This place is located downtown by the prefecture. It reminds me of some kind of Starbucks because of the menu and how sweet their drinks are. If you don’t like your food and drinks to be over sweet like me, stick with the regular/simple muffins, coffees and the salty stuff. Even though I wasn’t a fan of most of the menu, the upstairs is great for studying. They have a lot of space, outlets, and wifi.

Party life and where to go

My first year in Montpellier, I partied a lot! We would start with aperitifs from 8pm to midnight, some card games until 1am - 2 am and then go out to a club until sunrise. I have experienced my best parties in Montpellier! There are clubs for everyone: from classy dress code to costumes. You can find any type of music: electro/house, rock, reggae, radio, etc. Parties are usually on Thursdays and start around 1am.

Universities also throw parties. I highly recommend you going to at least one of them and a gala! If you live in a student residence, you will hear about those parties guaranteed.

Another fun thing to do down town is club-hopping. I recommend equipping yourself with your ID and a person that knows how to get from club to club. Know that some clubs have a 5 to 10 euros entrance fee and some only charge men.

Some of my favorite clubs are:

  • Villa rouge: they are outside of Montpellier, in Lattes. Check out who’s playing and hopefully you will have a great time.
  • Rockstore: they are down town by the train station. They have a variety of music, concerts and DJs.
  • Le Cargo: it is down town, close to the Observatoire stop. They are good if you like radio/popular/pop music.
  • Antirouille: it is close to Le Cargo. They throw some great live music!

When it comes to having a drink downtown, my two favorites are:

  • Papa Doble: They are the best cocktail bar I know. They are 10 euros/drink but it is worth it. Everything on their menu taste great and if you are a Moscow mule fan, this is the place to go. I recommend sitting by the bar to watch the barmen create the cocktails.
  • Robin Hood: They are a pub and the staff speaks English. They have karaoke nights.

Montpellier is full of clubs and bars. I’m positive that you will end up finding your favorite spots. Also if you stay out past 3am, all of the transportations have stopped functioning. Be ready to walk back home on late night outs. This is quite a common thing to do. Be aware that you might be at risk of robbery by la Comedie late at night. If you are surrounded by a group of friendly looking people and they get you to jump around, hold on to your wallet and phone.

Where and what to eat

Here is a list of my favorite foods and places to go eat for various reasons:

  • Best cheese naan: after a night at the Rockstore, head down Rue de Verdun in the direction of the train station. It’s the first kebab restaurant to your left.
  • Pizzas: France isn’t known for making pizzas. Your best bet is to go at Fred pizza in Vert Bois (North of the city) or order at Spizza.
  • Best chocolate/coffee eclairs: Downtown on Rue Delpech, there is a boulangerie/patisserie with the best eclairs I’ve ever eaten.
  • La mezza: a vegetarian restaurant with great ambiance! They have instruments and board games. Come here to chill and relax with your friends. Listen to people jamming or jump into the music with them.
  • Fairview coffee: this is my go to weekend brunch place. They speak English, they have great breakfast food and they have board games. If you want to have brunch there on a Sunday you will have to reserve though.
  • Chez Boris: if you like red meat go to Chez Boris! The meat is fresh and the ambiance is nice. You can write on the black board ceilings and walls when you are done.

Here are other foods you should try out: kebabs, tajine, galette des rois with a brut cider; order a café gourmand and look for Pogne from Roman at the grocery store.

When it comes to aperitif drinks, try out the following:

  • Pastis: if you like the taste of anise or liquorice
  • Kir: a white wine with a syrup (typically black currant but you can have it with peach too)
  • Monaco: beer with syrup

What to do

Montpellier is full of things to do and places to hang out. Check out the following:

  • There are 2 shopping centers: Polygone and Odysseum.
  • If you are looking to buy board/card games, go to Excalibur. They have everything and they will help you find what you need. They are the experts of games!
  • The aquarium at Odysseum is worth going.
  • Laser tag at la Comedie is a fun night! You should definitely have a minimum of 6 people to make it fun. They also have specials on their prices/offers every day so go and check it out.
  • The zoo: The park is free. The Amazonian part is about 4 euros for students. It’s worth going to check it out.
  • Ice skating at the Odyseum is fun with a bunch of friends. Go when there is a DJ or a fun event.
  • International Festival of Extreme Sports (FISE): This event happens every year for 4 days in May. You must check it out, especially on the last day during the finals competition. You should also attend the FISE parties! I have had a blast in every single one I’ve attended and in some, I have gotten free goodies (hats, t-shirts, etc). 2017 dates are: Mai 24th to Mai 28th. They will be celebrating 20 years so it will be amazing. You must go and attend the parties!
  • If you want to sign up at the gym check out Keep cool. I really enjoyed that gym due to its price (about 30 euros/month), the machine choices, the sauna, and you have your own coach (included with the price). Also, paying by card works. The day you sign up you reserve a coach session. You tell them your goals and they will make a plan for you. You can update the plan every month with the same or a different coach, for free. I was signed up at the one in Maurin. If that is the one closes to you, I recommend you to take Jessee as your coach. He speaks English (he will say that it isn’t good but don’t believe him! ), he has great humor, and he plays the best music.

What to expect

Montpellier is full of life and the weather is great. Expect to have long sunny summer days where the sun sets around 8/9pm. The fall is like an Indian summer. Winter hits in February. It will start getting really cold and you will need that winter coat. The spring is mixed weather. It can be very nice and you are walking around in a t shirt, or it’s very cold and need to cover up. You can also expect to have a lot of rainfall in a short period of time causing floods.

The famous kisses on the cheeks: la bise (check out this video, it is a perfect explanation). In Montpellier, you kiss 3 times, starting on the right cheek of your friend.

Be on the lookout for Remi Gaillard: the Montpellier prankster. Though, after 5 years in that city, I have never seen him but I hope you do though!

As you may know, France and strikes go hand in hand. You will most likely notice strikes and protests in the streets and especially in the center. This will cause transportation delays or cancellations.

Watch where you step! There might be some dog poop!

One last thing you might notice is the white sediment in your water boiler. It’s due to the hard water. You can easily remove it by filling up your boiler with water and adding lemon juice or white vinegar. Let it sit for half a day or throughout the night and it should look brand new.

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