For this post I don't really have a list of do's and don'ts as it was all about a one night experience. My only advice for Montpellier is to just get lost in it's endless pedestrian only alleyways, check out all of the lovely antique and craft shops, or enjoy a glass of wine in the main square. In all honesty, my friends and I didn't even mean to visit Montpellier. After being re-routed from Barcelona to Florence on a train, we were stranded here for the night, but it was a blessing in disguise.
As a tourist in Europe, you think visiting all the main major cities is where it's at. But if you step foot out of that common tourist route, you give yourself the chance to have a more genuine cultural experience, especially in smaller towns or cities. Not to say Montpellier isn't a common tourist destination, but I've never heard of any one saying "I'll go to Montpellier instead of Paris!"
My friends and I arrived in the city pretty late (and copped a free hotel compliments of the train company since they screwed up our journey) and after checking into our hotel room, we decided to explore the little French city. As soon as we stepped outside to the Place de la Comedie we were in awe. From the antique narrow alley ways and pedestrian only streets to the large fountain in the middle of the square, we were finally digging France.
We found that the Place de la Comedie was definitely the popular hangout spot as it was crowded with people sipping on wine and smoking their cigarettes. It was a beautiful warm summer night, perfect for exploring. As we walked around, we heard an accordion playing in the distance. We followed the melody and recognized the song "Everybody wants to be a Cat" from the Aristocats. When we reached the Bistrot Chez Felix, the few people inside were happily dancing, singing and drinking, just loving life.
This café has such a great vibe. We sat there for a while and before I knew it, an older French man twirled me around and asked me to dance. I was blushing so hard! But we felt welcomed. After a few laughs and a bit of dancing, we realized we were starving and since there was no food being served here, we had to look elsewhere.
We finally found a little hole in the wall cafe selling kebabs. As we were eating outside, an older French man was standing starry eyed smoking a cigarette. He couldn't take his eyes off of something inside. Before we knew it he was making conversation with us and began to tell us about how he has been married for decades but every night he comes to this kebab stand to watch the girl inside making kebabs because he was in love with her. The girl knew he was married so she didn't even give him the time of day. It was creepy yet oddly romantic. Or maybe it just seemed romantic because we were in France.
Either way we had to catch a train at 6am the next day to Florence, so we walked back to the fountain in the Place de la Comedie, which had become a ghost town since we first arrived, and decided to go to bed.
Even though our visit to Montpellier was incredibly short, it was a lovely stop and a great way to break up a long day of travel. If you're in the search for some cute and graceful French cities in the south of France, why not add Montpellier to the list!