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Tales of Tea // Si le thé m'était conté

30 Mar 2015

Way, way back in October my parents booked a long weekend in Montpellier (organised, I know), and that chosen weekend finally arrived this month. My whole family dropped me off in August, so they were already vaguely familiar with the city but hadn't seen it through my eyes yet. So I was crazily excited not just to see them but also to show them my favourite cafes and restaurants because, of course, everything was going to be primarily food focused. 

We started off with a trip to the fancy and ultra colourful tea shop which is quite literally next door to my building (!!!) as my Mum is a big fan of herbal teas. The place is called 'Si le thé m'était conté', which I believe means something along the lines of 'Tales of Tea' and is an absolutely adorable name. Although most of the Kusmi Teas were either black or green, there were also some 'Lov' teas on show which were more herbal (and in equally as colourful packaging). I was treated to some Vanilla Rooibos which came in an adorable little pot and meant that I also had to finally buy a tea strainer... no complaints there. I find it bizarre how most French coffee shops just don't seem to understand the concept of a standard English Tea, as in they pretty much never provide you with any milk and if they do the chances are the tea bag is remarkably weak, yet there are so many beautiful herbal teas everywhere! 

We went for a wonder around the charming streets which I won't go on about again as I'm sure I have done enough already (but seriously, they are great).We were lucky with the weather on Saturday as well, although I'm still anxiously waiting for the temperature to go above 20 degrees so I can spend all day every day at the beach sunbathing.

Georges Café is my absolute favourite café in Montpellier for drinks and also for their delicious Banoffee Pie. Their coffee flavours are amazing and there is so, so much choice. In terms of sweet things, they lack the classic cakes and instead offer more dessert type dishes like Cheesecake, Chocolate Crumble and a Pistachio Tart.Yummy yummy.

Can we please just stop what we're doing and appreciate this b e a u t i f u l Cappuccino? It was a 'Cappuccino Aromatisé' with caramel flavouring and a chocolate topping. My love for coffee has definitely become stronger and stronger since living in France, and I'm sure this is probably not a good thing, but when they look like this why on earth would I say no?!

It was so lovely having my parents to stay for the weekend, and I can't believe I have two whole months left now before seeing them again. I guess this is something I'll get a lot more used to when I'm older, but I'm used to seeing them every month pretty much, so it's a bit strange. 

On the plus side... only two months left here?! I am so not okay with that, but it does mean I've suddenly been enjoying this semester a lot more than I was back in January, and throwing myself into social things. I'm also determined to make more use of this blog, and now that I have an iphone 5S (my 4S was stolen!) I'm going back to having a camera at the ready most of the time.

10 Little Things About The French Lifestyle

19 Mar 2015

Two weeks into Semester two here in France and I'd already booked a trip back home for the whole of my half term. Two months in and I've decided that I'm not going back at all for Easter break. It's suddenly dawned on me that I may never live in this beautiful, charming, sunny place ever again, and I only have two months left of my year abroad altogether. I don't like that thought.

I remember writing a 'Things I love about the UK' post way back in September/October, and whilst all the points on that list still stand, I think it's about time I created one dedicated to my home for this year. 

France really is a chilled out, calm but also incredibly passionate place. Although their slow administrative processes and education system might wind me up (a lot), it will always hold a special place in my heart.

Why? Because of these things:

1. The Friendliness
No seriously, I know it's a stereotype and all, but being greeted with a friendly 'Bonjour' or 'Bonsoir' whenever you walk into a shop is kinda nice and something you really don't get that much in England.

2. The Focus on Wine
Wine is always a good idea here in France. I mean yes, technically I did have this mentality in England as well, but it's a lot more acceptable to drink wine with every meal here than it is in England. It's also ultra cheap so there's that bonus as well. 

3. The Focus on Food
Same as above. The French really do appreciate the importance of good food, and lots of it.

4. An Appreciation of The Little Things
This may just be my interpretation, but I do feel like they appreciate the little things in everyday life more here. 

5. The Relaxed Attitude
They are so relaxed. As someone who likes other people to be organised and efficient it stressed me out so much at first, (I'm remembering my rant post about my apartment being unfurnished/internet-less/electricity-less for the first few weeks!) but I've learnt to embrace it and I think it's made me ever so slightly more calm. 

6. The Charm
Oh so much charm. Maybe I'm just lucky that I ended up in Montpellier, but going on my experience in France in general I'd say that there's a reason many choose the South of France as a relaxing, charming holiday destination...

7. The Desserts
And they really do ace their desserts, probably because they fricking love their chocolate.

8. The Fries
Another food related one and one which I've already spoken about (multiple times, probably).

9. The Beautiful Architecture
And balconies. I love love love the balconies here, it makes me feel like I'm on holiday and then I remember that I actually live here!

10. The Independent shops & Cafés
I'm sure all my fellow bloggers will, like me, appreciate the importance of individual, local cafés and shops. Not only are they more interesting to look around/try out, but it also shows France's general attitude towards supporting local business. More of this in the UK, please!

Sète: A Walk by the Mediterranean Sea

13 Mar 2015

Sète was one of the first towns I visited when I arrived in Montpellier, and definitely one of my favourites. Although Montpellier is an amazing, charming little city, you have to hop on a tram and then a bus to get to the nearest (and not particularly picturesque) beach. So when we had some particularly glorious sunshine on Sunday we decided to hop on the twenty minute train to Sète. 

The last time I went we never actually made it to the sea. Mainly because we thought it'd be miles away but it was actually a short walk away, and well worth it. Unfortunately the tide was in, so we could only admire the beautiful Mediterranean from afar, but it was good enough! It was 20 degrees the other day over here, so I'm hoping it'll be nearly permanent beach weather by April... fingers crossed. 

Once we'd relaxed by the sea for a bit we ventured back into the centre and stopped by Le Bistro Du Port. I ordered a hamburger, much to the delight of the waiter who couldn't understand why I wanted it well done and not medium rare or rare! Needless to say it ended up being absolutely delicious, and cooked to p e r f e c t i o n. Anna had a prawn linguine and Meg had the mussels which as predicted were incredibly tasty. I genuinely think one of my favourite things about living here are the fries. You know when you go to a restaurant in England and if they really hit the spot with their fries then you feel like you're in heaven? Yeah well, that happens everywhere here. I am yet to find somewhere that does below average or even average fries. 

If you are around around the Languedoc-Roussillon region then definitely give Sète a visit!

Lyon: A Brief Encounter

10 Mar 2015
One of the best things about being abroad is having the opportunity to hop on a train and travel to cities that I will probably never be this close to again. Unfortunately, in Lyon's case I didn't get to see much of the city (hence the lack of photos) but I had a little walk around the centre and managed to get in a few coffee shop visits, of course. I was just going to add my trip to my Feburary Snapshots post but it is a great city & deserves a little more than just a mention.
The overall impression I got of the city was that it's a big place, but not so big that it lacks the charm of most French cities. Sure, there are some not so great and some not so beautiful parts, just like with any other city, but even in the centre the buildings were beautiful and mesmerizing, with the same typical French shutters and railings that give so many places abroad their character. It is a heck of a lot bigger than Montpellier and it made me realise how lucky I am to be in such a petite and therefore homely city whilst abroad. Don't get me wrong, I adore cities like London and Leeds, but moving abroad is a big enough step that I don't know if I'd be able to cope in a large city. That being said, I can absolutely see the appeal of the wonderful Lyon, and I think it'd be an incredible and exciting place to spend a year in France. 
There is also an abundance of independent coffee shops dotted about the place, like in Montpellier, along with some of the classics like Starbucks. I kind of like the mixture of big, corporate but familiar chains along with the more quaint and unusual independents. As much as I love spending hours and hours in the cutest and most unique cafe I can find, sometimes I really just want to dash in and out and Starbucks is the ideal place for that. It goes for the clothes shops as well as I spotted many French boutiques along with some of my favourite American shops like Brandy Melville. 

February in Snapshots

5 Mar 2015
February has been a whirlwind of a month. Not only have I been attempting to adjust back into university life in France, but I've also been for a weekend in Barcelona, partied in London for my friends 21st and spent a week back in England. So yeah, seeing as how it's been such a fun month and all, I figured why not dedicate a little post to it featuring some of my favourite and happiest snaps from the month.

1 - 3. Back in England for a week which devastatingly did not end up involving Nando's or Bill's due to an unfortunate power cut and car troubles. It did however involve multiple walks with my adorable Spaniel, and multiple catch ups with my amazing mother. 

4. A Weekend in Barcelona and boy was it the best weekend ever. No Joke. I love that city. Did I mention that already?

5 & 6. The best 21st birthday party ever, held at Buddha Bar in London by my favourite twins Georgie and Katie. Georgie is one of my best friends from Leeds and I cannot describe how lovely it was to see her and my other best uni pals after so long. It's weird how you can go from seeing people everyday and actually living with them to only seeing them every few months. I also loved getting all dolled up for the night and sampling the London Nightlife for once!

7. Back to my favourite Montpellier Bagels. which oh my are incredible. We pop over to Food Corner which is a whopping great 3 minutes walk from my apartment, and I always order exactly the same delicious chicken (of course) bagel.

8 & 9. Walks in the Sunshine because it seems like the sun has decided to show its face and it was actually 18 degrees the other day. 18 degrees. That's beach weather in my eyes, but maybe I just have ultra low expectations.