The Mole Diaries: Montpellier (Volume 2)

The Mole Diaries: Montpellier (Volume 2)

This article was written by Nupur Patel, published on 9th September 2015 and has been read 6241 times.

Nupur Patel is a student at the University of Oxford, reading French and History. She spent her year abroad working as a British Council Language Assistant in Montpellier, France, having previously worked as an English Animatrice in Langue et Nature (an English language school in Laval, France). This is her guide to the fashionable French city!

Located in the sunny, Mediterranean south of France (10 km from the Mediterranean sea), Montpellier forms an important part of the Languedoc Roussillon region. It is essentially known as the ‘Petit Paris’ of France and is an animated student town. With a population of 531,000 people, it has been the fastest growing city in the country for the past twenty or so years. So as you can imagine, there are always plenty of things to get involved in!

For seven months I lived there, working as a British council teaching assistant. When I first found out that I was to be posted in Montpellier, I was ecstatic. I honestly had the time of my life and really immersed myself in what Montpellier is all about.

With all of this in mind, I have made it my mission to show you just how wonderful Montpellier is and provide some useful tips and tricks for living or even spending a short stay there. It’s honestly a top place to visit!

1. A brief history

Before giving you more practical advice on Montpellier, I figured that it would be nice to give a little background info on the city:

Originally called Monspessulanus, Montpellier has a rich historical heritage, dating back to the year 958 when it was founded under a feudal dynasty called the Guilhem.

It really took off as an important area in 1200 when it became a trading centre with links across the Mediterranean.

It has been the home of many religious and cultural influences, including Jewish, Muslim, Protestant, Spanish and at one point, the Cathars took refuge there. Got to love a bit of multiculturalism!

Medicine and Law were and still are two very prominent subjects in the city. In 1220, Cardinal Conrad of Urach founded both faculties. The Medical faculty, in particular, is still an important hub for medical research and teaching. It has been home to many renowned medical practitioners, including Rabelais and Nostradamus.

Under the rule of the Kings of Aragon from 1204 until 1349, Montpellier developed into a major economic centre and trading centre for spices in the French kingdom.

The renaissance history of Montpellier is pretty interesting in relation to the Reformation. During the Protestant-Catholic divide, many inhabitants converted to Protestantism as Huguenots.

Montpellier became the capital of “Bas Languedoc” during Louis XIV’s rule, thought after the revolution, it became the capital of the department, Hérault instead. (It still is!)

Montpellier is twinned with Heidelberg, Rio de Janeiro and Barcelona.

2. Getting there

There are many different options for how to get there.

Plane
Probably the easiest option is to fly to the local airport, which is Montpellier Mediterranée Airport. There are often arrivals from different parts of France, Rome and England. If you’re from England, from past experience, it is worth catching a cheap flight via Easy Jet from London Gatwick Airport. The price of flights is usually between £40 and £60 for a one-way ticket.

You could also fly to Marseille Vitrolles Airport, which is around an hour and a half from Montpellier. This is a hub for more international flights, so for people who are not from England, you are sure to find flights from your home country to Marseille.

For those in England, there are British Airways flights from London Heathrow - these tickets cost above £100, but depending on your luck you could get a return ticket for around £140!

You could even fly to Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, another international airport bound to accept flights from all over the world. From there you could get a connection flight to Montpellier airport or catch an SNCF or TGV train to Montpellier St Roch train station.

Train
If you are close to the French borders or in France you could use the TGV to get to Montpellier. The St Roch train station in Montpellier is fantastic, with direct trains to the four corners of France and even to certain cities in bordering countries, such as Barcelona, Spain. You can book tickets online via the SNCF website.

3. What to take

You have got to be prepared for whatever French life throws at you, so with this in mind, be sure to take these things with you:

  • A folder with important documents: Passport, Contracts and student information, a translated copy of your birth certificate and pass port photos, etc. Always make copies!
  • Appropriate summer and winter clothes: Though it is usually around 30 degrees minimum in the summer, Montpellier is known for its cold and raining days too. DO NOT be fooled - when it is cold, it is REALLY cold, so be sure to pack some jumpers as well as swim suits!
  • Sun cream: Always a winner. It is better to be well protected in the scorching sun.
  • Vocab Book: You will find that you will learn new French vocab in the most random places. It is always good to have a little book to jot down new words.
  • Mementos from home: However busy you may be, you will find that a little bit of homesickness will hit you now and then. The best cure is to keep in contact with friends and family, but to also take some little reminders of them with you, for example, sticking up pictures and little notes, do so much to cheer you up!
  • A good travel guide: It is always handy to have some kind of guide to work out the best things to see and do there. Books like these have good restaurants, activities and other brilliant events to take part in. Use them as your basic guideline of the city and then do your own exploring! 

4. Languages

Montpellier is one of the best places to stay in France if you really want to improve your French quickly. Unlike Paris, Montpellier isn’t exactly swimming in Anglophones, though a lot of people will know a small amount if you do need help communicating!

It seems very tempting to take the easy route and speak English with the locals, but we all know that this will do nothing for your French! Luckily the locals are super friendly and are always happy to speak to you in their native language to help you to improve. Allez, give it a go!

There are many famous and well-respected language schools situated in the area if you are looking to work on your French or even Spanish or Italian.

Here are some links:

In terms of conversation, there are several language exchanges that take place every week:

1. Le Bookshop, 8, Rue du Bras de Fer
Do not be fooled by the suspicious English name, this little café is perfect for working on your language skills. Every Monday and Friday from 5pm to 7pm, there is a language exchange that happens underground. You simply have to buy a drink from upstairs and downstairs is where the real party begins. The people are super nice and often there are events that take place afterwards e.g. dinners, pub quizzes and other meet-ups. I personally did this and made some good friends who I still keep in contact with.

If you are more interested in writing, fear not! The café is full of books and grammar guides help in a range of languages. On the ground floor, there is also a notice board full of language tutors’ contacts and other events to work on every single aspect of learning a language. I would highly recommend going in and having a browse!

2. Chez Théo, 5 Place de la Canourgue
Another cool café in the student area of Montpellier which is open from 10am to 7pm. There are always students in there; it is a nice place to chill out and do some study, but it also has pretty good language events. Every Wednesday evening at 6pm, there is a French conversation event- perfect for practising and meeting new people!

3. GoLingo
This is a great initiative, which takes place all over France. In Montpellier there are weekly events from 7 to 9pm. The aim is to talk to native speakers on a one-to-one basis: 8 minutes in French and then 8 minutes in English, then switch to a new partner. It is a bit like speed dating! The events take pace in different local bars and pubs, including The Shakespeare pub and Australian Bar. Do check the website for updates

The only drawback it that there is a fee and you must sign up in advance; it’s pretty popular! I believe it costs €5 for students €7 for adults, but in both cases there is a drink included!

As for your own personal work on your language skills, I would recommend these things:

  • Buying or downloading French books: Often authors like Marc Levy, Tatiana Rosnay and Amélie Nothomb are good to start off with.
  • Watch lots of foreign films with subtitles in the foreign language: For French, some films I recommend are: 8 Femmes, Amélie, Les Intouchables, Les Indigènes, Beautiful Lies and La Haine. You can borrow with a library card (costs €5- can be used in all local libraries to borrow resources) all of these and so much more at the Fellini library, located in the Polygone.
  • Carry a little vocabulary book: note down new words to look up or ask someone about later. Don't forget to find their definitions though!
  • Carry a mini pocket dictionary or a holiday specific guide in your bag: the latter usually comes with useful phrases and is handy in case of emergencies!

5. Transport

The transport in Montpellier can be summed up in three words: Efficient. Cheap. Plentiful.

Trams and Buses
Thanks to the wonderful local service, there are numerous bus lines and tram lines which take you everywhere in Montpellier, including the outskirts and the surrounding little villages such as Castries and Lunel.

In terms of trams, there are four main lines, each represented by different colours. Here’s a link to the map.

All of the trams have one stop in common, that being the train station. They are incredibly cheap and fast. There are machines by the stops to buy single tickets or event 10 journey tickets, both are fairly cheap. I would however invest in a yearly or monthly travel pass, which works out cheaper in the long run. These can be bought in special TAM boutiques, two of which exist by the train station (they are very easy to find!) I would hurry and buy them as quick as possible; the boutiques work on a first come first serve basis, which means that you have to wait for your number to be called to see an advisor, and especially at the start of the school year, they are really busy!

It is worth checking out the website, which displays the different prices for the various monthly and yearly passes.

For a yearly pass which consists of the use of trams, buses and rent-a-bikes, it costs around €90, including the cost of the pass. A great deal, I must say!

The buses are just as great as the trams and reach every nook and cranny of Montpellier. The bus drivers are helpful if ever you are lost, and as stated before you can use your passes on these.

Cycling
Montpellier is very ecological and encourages its citizens to use the recently established rent-a-bike system. All around the centre of Montpellier you can find areas to rent a cycle for the day. The travel passes cover this system so you can hop on your bike for free and go as far as the beach if you want to!

SNCF and TGV Trains
Montpellier St Roch is probably one of the best train stations in France, purely because it has so many direct trains, which are quick and on time (if there are no strikes!). This means that there is no faffing about, having to wait at different stations for connections. Having travelled a great deal this year, I got direct and quick trains to Paris (in three hours!), Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Dijon, Marseille and even Barcelona!

Tickets are usually cheap (if you book in advance), especially if you have a Carte Jeune (for 18-26 year olds). The pass costs €50 and it lasts the whole year. Out of all the things to buy, I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND getting one of these! They save you around 1/3 of the money on train tickets.

6. Accommodation

I am sorry but there is no way to sugarcoat the fact that it is pretty hard to find accommodation in Montpellier. I myself had difficulties, but eventually I managed to find something great, so stay strong, you will find something!

Montpellier is an incredibly busy and populated city and despite the amount of accommodation out there, everything is taken very quickly and rather expensive. You could find yourself paying a minimum of €600 euros for a small apartment if you are not careful. The trick is to look at places in advance and stay in the minimum €400 bracket to stay fairly realistic with prices.

In terms of finding places, there are several great links with people who post offers daily. In these links, there are options for living alone or with housemates, in furnished or unfurnished apartments:

1. Le Bon Coin
2. 
Appartager
The Tourist Office: Located in the Place de la Comédie. (lots of leaflets and helpful advice)

3. Erasmus Student Housing
Local real estate agents: There are tons of them on the Rue Foch and by the Place de la Comédie. The estate agents are helpful in finding student areas and places within your price range. Do however make appointments quickly otherwise students will take the cheapest spots!

If you are looking to live with a family, the best company (which is slightly pricey!) to use is Accueil en Famille

The company is quick to get back to you with details of families in your area who better suit your needs.

To really take advantage of French immersion I would recommend either living with a family or with French housemates. I did the latter and found that my French improved a great amount thanks to this. I really got on well with my housemate and ended up travelling a lot with her. Depending on whom you live with, you could find a bestie for life! 

In whatever case, really research the places and definitely visit them. If you can, bring along a local or a friend to make sure that you are not conned out of money! Always be careful and make sure you read contracts thoroughly before signing them.

Also, bear in mind that in some places you will need to set some money aside for certain types of home insurance, mainly insurance for your belongings (the latter is strongly advised! This can be done through your local bank.)

7. Things to do and see

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When looking at what to visit and take part in Montpellier, it is always worth paying a visit to the Tourist Office in the Place de la Comédie. Inside the staff is very helpful and there is a really good comprehensive guide with activities and detailed maps.

Here are some of my suggestions:

1. Place de la Comédie
The main centre of Montpellier is stunning. There you have the iconic Fontaine des Trois Grâces surrounded by a grand selection of cafes and bars. There is a big cinema to watch the latest films and on the main square, there are always street performers. Right at the front of the square there is the famous Opéra Comédie, which is definitely worth visiting. Throughout the year there are a range of concerts and other events that are reasonably priced, which are great opportunities for staring at the wonderfully painted walls! 

If you’re into shopping, there’s the Polygone shopping centre with restaurants and shops with brands ranging from Bershka and Pimkie all the way up to a mini Galeries Lafayette. There are also plenty of niche boutiques and shops by the Fontaine des Trois Grâces leading to Rue de la loge. 

2. Musée Fabre
If you are a budding museumgoer or even just remotely interested in creative work, this museum is perfect for you. Art ranging from the Middle Ages all the way up to the 21st century are displayed there. There are interesting exhibitions, and on the 1st Sunday of every month, like most museums in France, it is free to look around.

3. Cathédrale St- Pierre
It does not matter if you are religious or not, this cathedral can be appreciation for its beauty alone. This 16th century church has a lot of history to it and is head to toe in wonderful art.

4. Place Royale du Peyrou
Located at the end of Rue Foch, there is a huge, majestic Arc de Triomphe followed by a lovely public garden. On Saturday mornings there is a huge market, selling a range of things. In general, there are always musicians and performers there. Inside the garden is a nice statue of Louis XIV and the water tower with a nice view of the square and, on the other side, of the aqueduct.

5. Quartier des Beaux-Arts
Party central- this student area has everything you need to have a good time: great restaurants, fun pubs and clubs and a buzzing atmosphere. There are always fun events to take part in. It is also extremely arty with street art shown everywhere.

6. Jardin des Plantes
This is the oldest botanical garden in France (1593) and was the model for the one in Paris and other copies exist across the country. It is a peaceful place with lots of benches and grass areas for you to relax and enjoy the scenery.

7. Beaches: Palavas, Agdes, Villeneuve-lès-Maguelone
Being in the sunny south of France, you cannot leave the place without having explored its wonderful beaches! Especially Palavas, you can reach there using Tram Line 3 and a free shuttle bus, which takes you right to the beach. All of these sites are perfect for topping up your tan and enjoying a nice picnic on the golden sands. 

9. Local Events

There are not many Montpellier-specific events, nevertheless there are some that are worth seeing:

1. Montpellier Film Festival
During the last week of October every year, Montpellier hosts several events including film premieres, conferences and meet and greets with several film professionals. This takes place in important buildings in Montpellier including the Centre Rabelais and the Corum.

2. Fête des Lumières
This is a recent event to hit the city thanks to the newly elected Mayor. This tends to happen at around during the first week of December. Very much like the Fêtes des Lumières in Lyons, for two nights, buildings in Montpellier are lit up with illuminations and other projections.

3. Fête de la Musique, 21st June every year
This event really takes place in the whole of France. Lots of musicians host free concerts and perform in the streets to all kinds of musical genres, including Rock, Reggae, Pop and Rap.

4. Montpellier FISE
This is the event that really puts Montpellier on the map. It happens every year in early May by the Place de L’Europe and is full of crowds watching skaters on the ramps. Each year the competition winners win lots of money! This event is worth watching, at least for a couple of hours to see what all the fuss is all about!

10. Eat your heart out!

Here are my top ten places to wine and dine in Montpellier:

1. Les Casseroles en Folie
The best crêperie I have EVER been to. Just putting it out there. The service is brilliant, the choice of galettes, crêpes and salads are absolutely phenomenal. They are really creative with their names and ingredients. I have previously gone for the Maxi-Mex with chorizo, cheese, potatoes and an egg- it was essentially Spanish and TO DIE FOR! For dessert there is a Tarte Tatin-version of crêpe with apples, vanilla ice cream and toffee sauce, which was the best crêpe sucrée I have ever tasted in France. The only trouble is that it is super busy and hard to make a reservation. It is best booking at the start of the week.

2. Le Beehive
If any of you British guys or gals are feeling super homesick or you have a weird fetish of traditional English food, Le Beehive is definitely the place for you. Located by the Church St Roch, this restaurant is full of great British grub. The Fish ’n’ Chips and Apple Pie are two dishes that I would highly recommend having! The servers are pretty friendly, the service is quick and you can even eat outside with a beer in hand, taking in the great, animated atmosphere.

3. Il Pizzaiolo
I have been to this restaurant so many times. Its pizza is actually award winning on an international level. Everything is made before your eyes (there is literally a pizza guy tossing pizza dough). There is a pretty awesome lunchtime deal (a drink, side-chips/salad and pizza for 8€) with so many sauces!

4. El Pincho Loco
A lovely tapas place near the artsy Quartier des Beaux Arts. The food is amazing here, the atmosphere it great, and everything is pretty cheap. There is such a range of authentic tapas to choose from and if you are ever in doubt, the servers (all Spanish) are there to provide advice. The sangria is especially good alongside a nice slice of tarta de chocolate. Sharing a pitcher actually works out to a couple of euros each. The restaurant becomes a proper party late into the night and once every month the restaurant hosts an exciting French-Spanish quiz.

5. Ban Thai
By the Quartier des Beaux-Arts, I tried this out one evening and was not disappointed. I went for the Pad Prik Keng Deng (A great name. with pork, steamed rice and lots of vegetables. This is one to recommend to spice-lovers (it comes with so many chillies!) The inside of the place is like stepping into Thailand; there are so many local ornaments and the staff are so warm and welcoming. The service is also very rapid.

6. Piazza Papa
A local pizzeria located in the Place de la Comédie. The choice of pizza and pasta dishes is very impressive and creative. My personal favourite is the Chicken Tikka Pizza. The menu is reasonably priced. It is nice to sit out either on the terrace, watching the centre come alive with live music, or relax in the beautifully decorate interior.

7. Sicilia
It is busy and ‘one of the finest Italian places in Montpellier’, according to the locals. The restaurant is located in the animated part of town, the Quartier des Beaux Arts, and is packed in the evening. What I like about this place is that it feels authentic- the staff prepare the dishes right in front of your eyes and they even use one of those traditional open ovens to bake the pizza. Mamma mia! The only problem there is that there is too much choice (if that is even a thing!) so you spend ages deciding! I would recommend the Futurista pizza with Goat’s cheese, chicken, peppers and an egg on top! It is divine.

8. Tropic Exotic
This place is basically party central- the food is incredible and the downstairs area (where we were seated) transports you to the Caribbean. It is full of cool music, colourful lighting and cocktails! The staff is full of spirit and present a wide variety of traditional Caribbean dishes with different sauces. My personal recommendation is the Jerk Chicken option with the Antilles sauce. It is perfect for people who like a bit of spice in their food but not enough to blow their heads off.

9. Omija
I found this place right by the Comédie. It is essentially a small Korean restaurant with lots of local goods. I was pleasantly surprised by the traditional Bim Bim Bap (With beef, various vegetables and a special sauce) and the Ho Pain- a doughy dessert with red kidney beans- it’s really sweet and tasty! The lady inside is really funny and sweet and inside the shop you can listen to K-Pop music whilst munching on your meal. There are also lots of Asian products, which you can buy there- noodles, sauces, etc.

10. La Tapaseria
A really nice Tapas bar by Église St Roch. The ambiance inside is cool and relaxed and it isn’t too packed. It is quite out of the main area for restaurants. There is a pretty good student meal which basically consists of 4 tapas (2 cold and 2 hot) and a dessert (I went for an apple tart, a great choice!) for €12.90.

11. Paint the town red

Being a student town, Montpellier is full of animated bars, pubs and clubs. Here is a select group of places, guaranteed to offer great, memorable nights out:

1. Café des Arts
A really sophisticated bar located on the Rue de la Loge. I have been here a few times with my Bookshop buddies and it is great for a quick drink. Upstairs there is a big lounge with lots of space. I have tasted some really nice and cheap sangria.

2. Barberousse
A great bar/pub by the Comédie. To enter you have to go down some stairs and then you come into contact with some kind of Pirates of the Caribbean re-enactment. It is super awesome! The inside basically looks like the interior of a pirate ship with lots of barrels and netting everywhere. The staff sells really good piña colada (especially during happy hour!) and very creative shooters (shots). The music normally consists of hipster covers of well-known songs, which I like, and in the evening it becomes quite busy.

3. Australian bar
Oh my, what a place. If you live or are from Montpellier you have heard of the ‘Australien’. It is especially well known among students and is full in the evenings. On Mondays there is a beer for €1 deal and it is a popular destination for a Friday night. There is a big terrace to enjoy cocktails (Walkabout is the best and fruitiest one!) and a dance floor for proper clubbing. You can also order food there; the chips are a winner! I really like the atmosphere there.

4. CIRCUS
Probably one of the best bar lounges in Montpellier. It has got a very chilled, hipster feel in there. It is by the Place Frédéric Fabrèges and is kind of out of the way. You do not really notice it at first but when you go inside it is huge. The barman makes a mean Kir (Wine with blackberry liqueur). The music is always good and in some ways it reminds me of a bigger Duke of Cambridge (a cocktail place in Oxford). With enough people there it has got the potential to be a wicked pre-drinks place. It puts you in the mood to go out afterwards. Unfortunately they did not sell any cider but their cocktails were good enough. I would highly recommend this place!

5. Le Robin Hood pub
What a place. It is actually an Irish pub around two minutes from the train station. On Mondays it hosts pub quizzes, which are not as good as Le Shakespeare, but at least there is enough space to breathe! We were there for Rebecca’s birthday drinks and had a wonderful time. Their mojitos are awesome as well as their shots. On the 1st Sunday of the month there is also a famous Karaoke night. Here the pub also dishes up traditional English food. I tasted the chicken and mushroom pie, which I quite liked; it was filling and flaky- just right!

6. Le Shakespeare
A fantastic pub, which is always a popular site for tourists and locals alike. It is as English as you can get with regards to the cocktails (named after Shakespeare plays) and the décor, full of traditional English flags and portraits of Englishmen. There is always a buzzing atmosphere inside and it is home of the best pub quiz in Montpellier. They happen every Tuesday evening at 9pm and always attract a great crowd. Be sure to get there at 8pm, though, otherwise you won’t get a seat! Like any standard pub there are karaoke nights and cheap prices for booze during Happy Hour. The place is super relaxed and even allows you to bring in pizza ordered from the local pizzeria. If you ever stay in Montpellier, this is a place you have to visit at least once.

7. Temple Bar
This place is quite small and out of the way. It is by the station and inside it is a bit like a smaller Robin Hood. The cocktails are a little bit pricey and strong but its ‘Swing Nights’ are great. On Mondays night there is a live swing band, which performs some brilliant tunes. Awesome swing dancers regularly dance there, pulling off some super impressive moves. It is brilliant to watch them if you do not want to participate.

8. Panamá Café
A wicked place! It is a bar/café by day and a nightclub by night. It is kind of a mix between the Oxford clubs, Park End and Camera, with a tropical theme inside. It is great but the only catch is that you have to get there at around 1am because beforehand it will be empty. Once all the shops close people come in and party all night! There is a mix of Latino music, popular music and some house. The drinks are super cheap, with shots at €2 each.

9. Le Petit Ness
Another bar that Le Bookshop gang like. It is on the main place on the Rue de la Loge and has a nice upstairs lounge. I have never really stayed long enough to try the drinks, but the music and ambiance are great.

10. Yam’s
It is a café and bar in the Comédie. It was a nice place and surprisingly quite calm being in the centre. If you want to chill for an hour or so, this would be a good place to go with a couple of friends.

12. Teaching in Montpellier as a British Council Language Assistant

On my Year Abroad I chose to become a British Council Language Assistant instead of studying at the local university. Here is a little summary of my experience.

From the start of October 2014 to the end of April 2015, I worked as a British Council Language Assistant in three secondary schools in the south of France. Two schools were located in Montpellier and the third was in a small village called Magalas.

My work as an Assistant was a rewarding thing to do. I never thought I would enjoy it as much as I did. I remember feeling so nervous during my first week at the three schools. My French was still a little shaky, I was scared of dealing with ‘hormone- fuelled’ teenagers and being put in charge of classes. Much to my amazement, I didn’t have a single problem; all of my teachers and students were super friendly and whenever I was in doubt all I had to do was send an email or two. There was also a Training day with all of the helpful advisers and assistants in the area, so I never felt alone.

However, looking back I realise how rare this is, especially for me as I had to juggle three schools in different areas of the Languedoc-Roussillon region. My Assistant friends were not so lucky as they had to deal with unmotivated kids and even lazy teachers. When comparing all of our experiences, it is clear that the Year abroad assistantship is so unpredictable. Almost like a lucky dip, you can either have a great experience or a not so nice one. That is not to put you off applying; the programme is fantastic and well organised, but it is worth taking the bad points into consideration. I am yet to find someone who has completely hated his or her British Council experience.

Although teaching has not inspired me to become a teacher myself I have gained important skills and lessons, which, to me, will be applicable in everyday life. Communication is one thing that I worked on and even having confidence in my own abilities, which has gone up leaps and bounds. At the end of it all, I feel like a new person thanks to the assistantship.

I would highly recommend becoming an assistant. There are so many plus points and having looked back on my experiences, I have realised that thanks to the British Council Programme I have grown so much in confidence.

13. Advice for future Year Abroad students

1. Accommodation
Once you find out where you will be posted and which schools you will be working in, make sure to contact your mentors in each school. Ask them whatever queries you have and do ask them if the school could provide accommodation or help you to look. If they are unable to, start looking for accommodation and soon as possible. Even go to the city a little earlier to make some visits to properties.

2. Training Day
Attend the Training Day at the start of the assistantship. There your issues with French administration, etc will be solved. Make sure to keep in touch with assistants there so that you can regularly meet up- it is always nice to have a friendly face instead of being lonely!

3. Get it out of the way!
When you arrive the first thing you should do it to sort out all of the admin: setting up a bank account, working out how to pay rent, Social security! You should have a teacher or adviser to help you do all of this. Get it done ASAP, so that you can relax afterwards!

4. Schools
When meeting the teachers for the first time (in your schools) familiarise yourself with their teaching styles and more importantly ask what is expected of you. You want to make sure that the students will get the best from working with you.

5. Clubs and Fun
Get involved in clubs and activities! Either with the other assistants or just on your own, you will be able to improve your language skills through picking up other skills. Who knows? You may even make more friends!

6. Enjoy it!
Do not stress and have fun! As daunting as it may feel in the beginning, you will find that through confident and trials, you will achieve a lot of things and really enjoy the process of teaching and living abroad.

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So there you have it! This is my guide to Montpellier with useful tips and tricks to have the best time there. I know it is super detailed, but hopefully this will be all you need!

Out of all the places that I have visited in France, Montpellier is by far the best and in my opinion, it offers the most to people from all types of backgrounds and ages. Being a fun and buzzing place, you can never be lonely or bored!

Best of luck to everyone who is spending his or her year abroad in Montpellier!

Our Mole Diaries are insider city guides written by students about their experiences, filled with top tips and recommendations. Please view our 200+ Mole Diaries arranged by language, and if you'd like to contribute, do find out more about becoming a Mole!

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