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Spotlight on... Montpellier Janine Marsh visits the vibrant, sunny town of the south of France and falls in love with its many faces...
Montpellier is very much a tale of two cities. There's the old town with its wiggly medieval streets. And, there's the new bit of town which seems to change week by week. Also, there’s the seaside bit. Okay that’s three different faces to this dynamic city – all of which makes for a very intriguing visit with loads to discover and a whole lot to fall in love with. Montpellier used to be a fishing village many years ago, now it’s a cool town with a hip vibe. The sun shines pretty much from spring through autumn and then some – 300 days a year on average of sun. There’s no need for formal dress or formality – it’s not that sort of place and with 80,000 students (and the oldest university still in operation in Europe – it was founded in 1180) it’s got a young and “hipster” feel to it. I love the sound of cigales squeaking in the plane trees, the fact that birds flit about openly and the old-fashioned lamp posts The old city of Montpellier add a certain je ne sais quois to the overall look. Wandering in the medieval town you suddenly find yourself on a hill, a reminder that this is a Mont – hence the name Montpellier. It’s not though, a hard town to wander. It’s a small city, easy to get your bearings and easy to get around. It’s also a great base for sightseeing in the area. The train service is very good and it’s a short distance to such legends as Narbonne, Carcassonne, Séte and even Barcelona from the local station.
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