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Daytripping in France: Saint-Guilhem-Le-Désert

22 Sep 2014
Montpellier is not only a beautiful city in itself, but is also surrounded by spectacular sights, one of which is Saint-Guilhem-Le-Désert; an enchanting medieval village situated in the heart of the Hérault Gorges. 

My family decided to make a holiday out of my first week in Montpellier, and so we rented a car and planned out some day trips, with this wonderful village being top of the list.

It's on days when there's a cloudless blue sky, and I can remove myself from the stress of a French university (which believe me is nothing like an English university), that I can just relax and enjoy the fact that I'm living in the beauty that is the South of France. With such hectic days and hectic nights this kind of bliss is exactly what I think everyone needs on their year abroad!

I'm also discussing plans with some of the people I've met to join me on a few other day trips, including a place which looks like a medieval kingdom (no, seriously), and various impressive cities and towns and I'm also in the process of writing a bucket list for the year, so watch this space...

Although this Creperie looked delicious, we found a slightly more hidden and secluded restaurant which also featured this French delight down one of the side streets. I've discovered what the French call a 'Galette', which is pretty much a wholemeal, savoury crepe and most places offer a very wide range of toppings! I had a tasty one with caramelised onions and melted emmental cheese (the French have no time for Cheddar, as I've come to realise), but I definitely think I prefer actual Crepes to Galettes! This is possibly down to the fact that my one true love are pancakes. YUM.

Cue the dainty little side streets again...

This is exactly what I imagine French villages to be like. All the streets were even more unique and colourful than Montpellier, although I could never see myself living somewhere as touristy as Saint-Guilhem; no thank you!

As always, there was a mountain walk for us to venture on. Unfortunately the sun was so scorching hot that we decided to give it a miss, and enjoy the less strenuous task of wondering around the gift shops. I'm all for a beautiful hike up a hillside, but when it's over 30 degrees I don't understand how anyone can manage something like that! All I want to do is sunbathe on the beach or sit down with an ice cold lemonade.

We also paid Pont du Diable a brief visit, where Tash and I clambered over rock after rock whilst admiring  the swimmers with envy! This is my favourite kind of place to swim because the surroundings are just so spectacular.

Anyone else ever been near Montpellier before? I'm constantly on the lookout for places to visit nearby!

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Montpellier: Thrown In At The Deep End

19 Sep 2014
Three weeks of sky high stress levels in France and I am finally (albeit very slowly) settling into my new home for the year. My patriotism and general love for England has increased dramatically after so many things have gone wrong here, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, right?

Now don't get me wrong, Montpellier is a beautiful city, but my oh my is it different to England. It's completely and 100% out of my comfort zone, and I've very quickly had to adapt to certain things. 

There has been so much to sort out with my new apartment and with the (amazingly disorganised) University I'm studying at and there have genuinely been times when I've felt like everything that could go wrong, has. Having said this, I have at least got quite a few amusing stories to tell (already) so I think I'm going to write about them here because then I can look back and laugh at my misfortunes, and remember how I got through them all, right?

In amongst these chatty posts I am also gathering photos and stories of the great things about being here, because it is by no means all negative! The endless cafes are one amazing thing, and I will definitely be writing lots of blog posts about them.

Left me first explain my apartment situation:

I signed for an apartment in this beautiful building, right in the centre of the old historic town, with many many flights of stairs but in the perfect location (see photos above). Too good to be true, right? Correct. Things are never simple in France, and I arrived to discover many, many problems with this beautiful building:

1. There was no electricity, and after having promised that electricity was included, I was then completely thrown in at the deep end and told by my landlady that I needed to phone up EDF France and set up a frickin electricity contract in my name! My family left on the day I found out I would have no electricity for days, and I was left bawling away in the apartment.

2. The landlady said she'd furnish the apartment before I moved in. This was another thing that wasn't followed up and I ended up in the this dark, electricity-less apartment, in a strange country, with only a mattress, a chest of drawers and a kitchen table.

3. We had no mailbox nor door buzzer, so I had to tell my mum she couldn't send me anything to cheer me up as I wouldn't receive it!

4. I was told that 'all apartments were equipped with wifi', which ended up meaning that they'd all equipped themselves with wifi individually, and I have been without the internet on my laptop up until now!

5. There is no oven. I repeat, no oven. So no more baking until I either get an oven or go back home. Luckily I'm surrounded by boulangeries and pattiseries to make up for this.

Now the happy part of this story is that I had managed to meet some lovely people by the time I was moving in, and was able to stay with one of them for the next two nights until I had electricity. I now have more furniture (the landlady told us she's been ill recently and that was the reason for the delay), electricity, wifi and my lovely flatmate has turned up and provided some much needed company. The other great thing is that I now feel a hell of a lot more appreciative of little things and I no longer feel like running away whenever I have to phone someone up to sort out a problem! My advice for anyone moving abroad would pretty much be to expect a lot of things to go wrong, and to remember that they will be put right... eventually!

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