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Erasmus in Montpellier


So there we are. Finally someone who is going to write about thier experience in Montpellier (and the truth is that I used to like reading some of them before I came here, but I am now happy to share my experience with you about the 3 months of my life living in another city).

I hope that all the information I give you will be useful that you will find below under different sub headings!

Architecture, landscapes and the university

Firstly, I have to tell you that I come from a city in the South east of Spain called Murcia, and although Montpellier has a lot of things in common with my home town in general, it is quite different. Here the atmosphere is lively day to day, with its gardens, its crowded squares, terrace restaurants on the street etc.

But, suddenly, its gets to 19. 00 and everyone starts to close up and the city and every starts to get dark (the city isn't very well lit so walking alone at night isn't very nice sometimes).

Now, however, it is Christmas (it starts here in November like it does in Murcia in El Corte Inlgés haha! ) so the streets and trees are full of thousands of little lights, giant Christmas ball balls and many more decorations adorn the shop windows.

The architecture in the city is quite different to that of Spain, with blocks of flats only having 4 floors, and the streets are quite wide and they go on forever so you can't see where they end. The 'great artist' that designed them insisted on planting huge trees in the middle of the street and put the street lights in between them, so you can imagine what the light is like for pedestrians in the evenings.

The Place de la Comédie is without doubt the busiest square in Montpellier where the richer locals meet every day with their 'toy dogs' (they are nothing like Spanish people, they have more money than you and me, but they like to live like this, mysteriously, accompanied by their boxer dogs that always end up fighting amongst themselves). It is also home to the beautiful Comedy Opera house and the Trois Grâces fountain, making it one of the most wonderful squares in Montpellier.

Walking down one of the streets you will find yourself a square that is full of terraces that are always rammed with people in the Spring and Summer, and on the street parallel, there are lots of souvenir shops where you can get post cards to send to your family and tell them of your adventures. This is my favourite street in Montpellier, of course there are lots of other places that I love, but on this street, you can look at the images on the cards and whilst listening to the music in the background from the shops, and you can imagine that you are anywhere you want to be in the whole world.

A little further up the street you will find the Arc de Triomphe and the Peyrou Gardens, together with the aquaduct in the Arceaux neighbourhood. This area is quite central and there is a student residency named after the quarter.

On the other side of the Comédie is the Corum, where you will also find the Berlioz Opera which has its own tram stop that operates on lines 1 and 2. Following in the direction of Mosson, you will go past the Law faculty, the Philippides stadium and another neighbourhood which is called Botounnet. There is also another student residency here with the same name. You will also find the university canteens here that you are sure to eat in more than once during your stay.

The next stop is St. Eloi, which is where you have to get off if you want to go to the Voie Domitienne residency, which is where I am, or there is also the Vert Bois which is just opposite the Paul-Valèry university (it is where arts and theatre is taught, and it is one of the worst places in the world. If you think that your university was out of control and poorly organised, you're wrong).

If you are on Erasmus and this is your university, and you have to sign up to the subjects that you want to study, be careful, because this doesn't mean that you have signed up to your exams. Between December and January, you have to go and collect some code, which is really hard to find by the way, which then validates your exams. If not, you will have wasted the whole year studying for nothing.

The classrooms are older than you, with very little technology in each of them, and cobwebs in all of their corners. But the good thing about the department is that it is located in a really pretty spot and you can laze around on the gardens around it and have lunch.


Despite Montpellier being quite a small city, it is very well connected and it is, in my opinion, the best thing about it. The tram has two lines and a third one is currently being built. It saves you from having to walk to university (it takes me 30 minutes to get there or to get to the centre) and it drops you off right in the city hub where everything is going on. Because I live on my own, I regularly use line 1 on the tram (the blue line) which is also the line for the more 'dodgy' area of the city. It drops you off just inside the biggest shopping centre here, the Odysseum.

On the journey, you go past some of the places that I have already mentioned (Boutonnet, St. Eloi, etc. ) After passing the Comédie, you arrive at St.Roch which is the Montpellier train station, after the Town Hall, you will pass Antigone, Leóm Blum (where you will find the Emile Zola media library which is really good), the Place de l'Europe (one of the prettiest areas in Montpellier with lots of green places, bars and the Lez River which is just a few steps away from the square) etc.

The other tram line is 'cooler', red and lots of other colours, and it passes through the more modern neighbourhoods and also takes you to 'Sabines' which is the city's bus station (if you can call a car park a bus station, but you have to catch a bus from there if you want to go home or if you want to get a bus and visit one of the towns in the Languedoc-Rousillon department).

So apart from the tram, people also use the bus a lot, and a lot of people drive. If you do want to drive around Montpellier, as though you're one of the thousands of pedestrians that don't care about driving, do so in moderation. Because, here, the cars drive like they're in the F1 (and there is always no police around, which is the same as most of the cities in Spain). I haven't seen anyone having to use the breathalyser yet, only the occasional smashed up car in a tree or in a fence, but it's normal here... Considering it takes more than a year to get a driver's license you think that people more careful and not lose it straight away.

But if Montpellier is famous for anything, then it's its bike lanes and velómagg (the public bike hire scheme). You can rent these bikes for a whole year or just hire one for the day when you need to, from various points from around the city. You can get an annual card for the tram and go to activate it at the tram and bike office in the city, which you will find at the stop, St. Roc (tram line 1). Everyone uses this type of transport here, they are the two quickest, most practical and popular ways to get around the city.

And to make the most of this form of transport, you should get a 12/25 card, if you are in-between the ages of 12 and 25, since with this card (which you can get from St.Roch station, the train station in Montpellier) you can buy tickets to travel around France for half the price of a normal ticket. And for the rest of Europe, you get a 25% discount. Transport in France is great, as you will see for yourself.


Montpellier is a little like Murcia since it is a coastal city, so the climate is quite humid, and colder in the winter but no lower than 0ºc. The summer here is pretty hot so you can get away with wearing short sleeves until the end of October. The only difference is that it rains more here, and it is cloudier and can be windy. But when it is sunny, the city transforms along with the atmosphere, there are people everywhere out walking or sitting on the grass at the Place de l'Europe, that's the best thing to do on sunny days.

Culture and traditions

The culture is also an important part of the city. In some aspects, because it is a cosmopolitan city, the fashion is so varied that it makes you want to try out a new style every day. Because it is different to Spain in the sense that people here, people don't stare if you look different to everyone else, they respect everyone's individual style which I like a lot.

Still, there are uneducated and idiotic people in some parts of the city, which is bound to happen. Normally, they are on the tram, one minute you're having a little sleep and suddenly, some creepy guy gets on smoking a cigarette with stupid music blasting from his mobile phone, disturbing everyone on the carriage. There he is, the boss, the king of the jungle, wanting to bother everyone, putting his cigarette out on his hat... And there are loads of guys like this.

Some quick advice for smokers... Stop smoking! Because if you are a smoker and you come to Montpellier, you are definitely not going to give it up. First it will be the paper, then a little bit of tobacco, the filter, and then someone will ask you to roll it up, because the people from this city always ask for help. it's a true fact. And if someone asks you to roll a cigarette, you'll probably be busy drinking a coffee, carrying three bags in each hand, but that doesn't matter to them and they will ask you to do it anyway, wherever you are and whatever you are doing.

Well, I just find it rude and I was surprised, in a bad way, because people here can be rude in various situations. There are some people that you will meet who are over-friendly and will give you three kisses instead of two. But as for the normal two, it is quite confusing for Spanish people people they start from the left, and not the right which is what we are used to.

Like I said earlier, the city is a lot busier during the day than it is in the evening. (most bars close around 1am where some other bigger ones are open until 4/5am). The shops usually close at 19. 30, which is a pain if you are in university until late, and also the stocks are quite low by that time so you cannot always get what you want either.

French restaurants usually open at 20. 00. This is usually the same time that people start to go out because the bars shut at one (this is the same time that the last tram leaves between Monday and Thursday odysseum-mosson direction, and mosson-odysseum the last one is at midnight, and another later in both directions on Fridays and Saturdays).


What would Erasmus be without a party. It is what a lot of Erasmus students do during their placements abroad, and it is a way of unwinding after a stressful day, which can happen when you're living in a foreign country!

Montpellier nightlife is good. Not quite as good as Spain, obviously, but it has a wide variety of bars of all different styles. Erasmus students and French locals all like to head out into the town for a few drinks.

Some of the most popular include Panama, Cargo, Macadam, Australian, Manhattan, Mixkoffe, Rockstore, le Huit and Le Point Zero. If you want to dance and cheap beers, the best in my opinion is Macadam (On Wednesdays, pints are 3€ and half pints are 2€) and the Australian or Manhattan (which is popular on Mondays with beer only costing 1/2€), the only problem is that they close at 1am.

The ones that are open until 4/5am are: Cargo, Panama, Rockstore and Mixkoffe, the last two being the ones that I personally recommend if you like rock and 80s music, and electronic music. Also in the Rockstore, they host quite a few concerts throughout the year. In addition, these bars are near the Comédie, so they are quite central and close together; except Australian and Manhattan, which are opposite the tram stop line 1, at Place de l'Europe.

On the other hand, if you like mixing with strangers, getting pulled by random guys to go and dance on the dance floor and if you don't mind dancing with people bothering you around you, then Panama is your bar (lol) where you can listen to great songs such as "pimp Daddy", "flying cat", "pump" and a lot of Reggaeton that burst your eardrums.

There aren't any free bars in the city but there are bars that play different types of music such as rock and jazz, like Charlie's pub, which is a good place to get a 'Giraffe' to share with your friends, an 8 litre bucket of beer, while listening to good background music in a good atmosphere. In fact, there are tonnes of nice pubs to get a drink from and have a good laugh with friends.


This is certainly another good thing about Montpellier if you decide to come and study here.

There is a company called Crous which manages the university canteens. They also have a card called 'Pass Culture' which lets you get discounts on cinema, theatre and opera tickets. The card costs 9€ a year.

It is amazing how many events and festivals that take place here throughout the year. There is always something new to do and somewhere new to go because, like I said before, transport is pretty cheap, so you should travel to the nearby towns and cities because it is the best way to really discover the French culture.

Someone told me recently that there will be a film shown in October in one of the oldest cinemas in Montpellier. They will show 4 short films by Alex de la Iglesia, who we happened to say the following day with his wife and daughters at Place de la Comédie.

Gastronomy and prices

If you are a Erasmus, let's face it, you will miss the food from your home country, no doubt about it. No matter how much your mum tells you how to cook your favourite lentils recipe, it will not be the same as her cooking it in the comfort of your own home. A good way to get by and eat well is to eat in the university canteens. With your university card, for 2. 90€, you get a main, a salad and a dessert, that you can choose from a wide choice of meals (except at supper because they usually just re-use the food from earlier on in the day.

As for food shopping, the supermarket I recommend is called Leader Price (Line 1 on the tram, in the direction of Mosson, get off at St. Paul) which is the cheapest supermarket in Montpellier, as is Lidl. They are the best places to go shopping as the quality is good and the price.

Monoprix, located in the centre of Place de la Comedie, is fine for buying the odd thing but alcohol is expensive there. In fact, most of it is quite expensive compared with other supermarkets. There are some shops open at night, like the small ones in Spain, but they do sell slightly different products and they are more expensive than the supermarkets. They are called "épiceries de nuit".

What I like best are the little shops in the side streets where they buy a sandwich, pain au chocolat, croissant or even an American (which is a burger on a baguette with fries for only 4€! ) It is a good alternative when you just want a quick dinner or when you don't have any food in (there are no freezers in my accommodation so I have to be careful what I buy).

Well, this is more or less everything about my experience in Montpellier. I hope this information will help those who need it in the future!

Some websites that might be useful:

Good luck to everyone!

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