I’m sure Montpellier is a lovely town. Situated near the coast in the beautiful “South of France”, this rapidly growing medieval city had everything going for it, including an airport that boasted RyanAir flights to London. So when Kelly and I were finishing up our spring break trip around Europe, we figured what better way to get from Avignon back to my place near London in GEMA (Greater Egham Metropolitan Area)? Thinking ourselves quite smart, we left Avignon on the train the afternoon before our flight, and planned to spend a relaxing evening in the cute town of Montpellier. Like I said, I’m sure it is a lovely town, but this is not the story of cute, historical Montpellier.
Since the decision to stay the night in Montpellier was made on-the-fly, I had booked our last-minute accommodations in what looked like a small budget hotel just outside the city center. Since Montpellier has a modern trolley/subway system, we figured this would not be a problem. Upon arrival, however, “just outside the city center” turned out to be a 30-minute trolley ride past the pretty town square and interesting architecture, straight into white trash territory. Yes, it’s true, there’s a side of France that’s not all sidewalk cafes, Chanel, and berets, with “La Vie en Rose” playing everywhere. Our accommodations for the relaxing evening in Montpellier turned out to be a truck stop on the side of the highway as you head out of town. Ours was just one of many roadside motels in the area, and clearly A+ accommodations.
After checking into our room, which was designed in the neo-classical part Ikea, part Motel 6 style, we decided to venture out for more of the delicious French cuisine we had been enjoying. We first contemplated an authentic-looking establishment across the highway:
Kelly, however, noted that “There’s no way French people can cook barbecue”, so we settled on an innocent-looking family restaurant with a mix of cuisines. After two plates of the worst spaghetti bolognese either of us had ever experienced, we continued on to find the rest of the evening’s entertainment. This turned out to be a bottle of vodka, orange juice, and playing cards – purchased at a local market for about 10 euros total. Classy, right?
We ended up having a grand old time in our room drinking makeshift screwdrivers and playing every card game we could remember. The next morning (very early) we called a taxi and got the hell out of Dodge, but with fond memories of our night in Montpellier nonetheless.
So, lessons learned:
a. Spend an extra 5 minutes at the internet cafe to read the reviews before booking accommodations on the go.
b. When life gives you truck stops, make a screwdriver.