10 Things To Do in Montpellier, France

When you think France you automatically think love and Paris. That’s pity – not the love part but that only city we let define our image of France is its capital. I love Paris and its cultural touristy things but there is a lot more to see in this huge European country. Paris may have Eiffel Tower, Louvre and dozen of other attractions popular among tourists but other parts of the country have as much if not even more to offer for those loving adventures.

Today we are going to take peak to France’s south coast and list 10 things to do in Montpellier.  I was privileged to visit this charming city last year. Montpellier is more known among the local travellers and families who come to spend their holidays to the beautiful beaches. Everyone who prefers old town atmosphere, street art varying from graffiti to magicians or relaxed days on beach will fall in love with Montpellier.

 

beautiful beach and seashell

10. Day trip to the beach

Take the scenic tram or bus to the beach and enjoy the soothing sea. At winter you will be solely by yourself whereas summer brings all the local tourists to take their part of the sunbathing and swimming. Both seasons are worth of visit and maybe pick up some pretty stones or seashell as souvenirs.

Maybe this is because I’m Finn and not used to visit endless white sand beaches but this really made me fall in love with southern France. Not many things are as epic as walking around empty endless beach and picking up beautiful seashells. 

 

9. Roam around the old city

Start from the place de la Comedie and be ready to get lost (and to shop cheap shoes…) Stop for Nutella pancakes or to drink bear. Maybe visit some of the small galleries or drift to remote patio. Be ready to take photos because the old city is full of charm!

 

Montpellier Graffiti

8. Graffiti Hunting

There is two ways of approach graffiti hunting… First one is just go for it. The old town and literally every other place in Montpellier is full of street art. Just keep your eyes open and remember to look up and down. Because some of the art is on ground while some of it is up on the roofs. You will never know what you can find.

The second way of graffiti hunting is more systematic. Go to the tourist information (or use Google) and take map with marked graffiti spots. Then just look like a real tourist and use the map to locate some of the best street art there is.

One of the specialties of Montpellier are the huge murals taking over the whole wall of buildings. These may be hard to find at first because often they are made to look real and as part of the city. However after a little searching you will get amazed.

 

7. Guided Tours

Montpellier is full of tours from free ones to pricey longer ones. Just go on the city’s tourism website or use google. I didn’t go to any while in Montpellier but heard a lot of good feed back of them. You will get to go in places normal tourist can’t get in. You can also try driving segway around the old city! I think there is tours for any kind of people so you will definitely find one perfect for you.

 

Wanderlust Wednesday: Travel Montpellier

6. Musée Fabre

This huge museum has something to offer for everyone. Mainly “older” art works, known artists and local masterpieces. It will take hours to wander around and see everything. When I visited Fabre the art works at the end of museum didn’t get a lot of my attention because of the tiredness. Visiting here in two different days would be the best option.

 

5. Rockstore & Gazette

Concert place and club in the downtown Montpellier. I didn’t go inside while in the city because I’m not huge fan of indie music or partying. However even just seeing the door is must thing to do. Unfortunately I have lost my photo from this place but it’s easy to recognize. Half of car comes out of the wall above their front door.

Gazette is another place to spend your evening and find interesting nightlife. I fell in love with this cozy restaurant, cafe, bar right after stepping in for the first time. Everyone from babies to elderly people can spend time together and have fun. There was literally people from every age group. And at one point of the evening there was free dance lessons for anyone wanting to take part.

 

Wanderlust Wednesday: Montpellier Travel Guide

4. Streets

With this I mean a lot of things. The street arts filling up every free wall space you could possible imagine being in city like this. Colorful decorations and small boutiques. The performers playing instruments, dancing and entertaining passersby. Endless possibilities to get lost and never find your way out.

Don’t forget to look out for the graffiti and artsy bikes coming out of the walls. And don’t be scared to visit the small galleries and shops that you can find everywhere from the city’s small streets. Montpellier’s charm is hold in these places.

 

Wanderlust Wednesday: Travel Guide Montpellier

3. Tram, Tram, Tram

If I had to say my favorite thing from Montpellier it would be the colorful trams! Also if I had to share one surviving tip for Montpellier: never cross the tram lines… This is not for your own safety but rather tip to not get lost. The trams circle around the old town so if you never cross the tram lines you will never exit the old town. This way even if you get lost you won’t be totally in trouble.

There is several tram lines that have all their own design. For example blue tram with bird design and colorful one with funny images. The stops are always styled similarly to the trains passing through it. In addition of looking cool trams are cheap way of going around and see more than just the centre of Montpellier.

 

2. La Panacee

I live for free museums and modern art. La Panacee combines those two (and amazing buffet restaurant.) It may be hard to find and at least for me it took several tries to exploring around the old streets before spotting this small museum. Definitely worth of taking your time and trying to find it. The changing exhibitions are interesting and something different from the more normal museums. And did I already mention that it is FREE! 

 

Wanderlust Wednesday: Montpellier Urban Travel Guide

1. Wine & Cheese picnic

The last but not the least on my list is picnic. Go to local super market, buy some cheap cheese, wine or sweets and find beautiful place to have picnic. Maybe you should go to the beach or some of the lively parks. Where ever you decide to make your home, Montpellier won’t disappoint you. This city is full of life, funny people and charm. (Disclaimer: Don’t picnic on tram tracks like my photo seems to suggest…)

 

So have you ever been to Montpellier? Or have you even heard about this charming city? Any comments you have are appreciated like always…

So this was the first post of my returning Wanderlust Wednesdays series! I hope you liked it because there is more posts coming soon.

With love,

Viivi Severina

 

Disneyland, Paris

Welcome to our second Wanderlust Wednesday! Today’s destination is Disneyland because who doesn’t love to let their inner child out? If you didn’t read the first part of this series check it out HERE. And to put shortly this idea every Wednesday I will introduce new destination I have fallen in love with and recommend it or everyone.

But now back to today’s topic!

princesscastle

Disneyland

Where? Paris, France

How to get there? Take train from center Paris.

When to go? Check out the official website for what is happening in park. There is different themes depending on when you visit. (For example Halloween.) Go at morning because you will spend whole day but don’t leave the park too early because they have amazing firework show at the closing time.

How much does it cost? If you have time and want to safe money, try to find perfect deal for you. The prices are changing a lot but usually it’s about 50€ or more for one day.

Why to go?

Well, it’s Disneyland. Do you need other reasons?

I have always been the girl who loves stories and fairy tales. Disney movies were the start of everything so when I got to visit Disneyland year ago I was totally thrilled. My three years younger sister was almost as keen to see the magical land of happy endings as I was.

My younger brother instead wasn’t that into it. He was complaining and following behind us with my dad when we explored the huge park. So maybe not good place for teen boys but I recommend Disneyland for families with young children and all ages of true princesses.

disney

8 Reasons to Visit Disneyland

1.Time to return back to your childhood! My childhood was full of Mulan, Pocahontas and Mickey Mouse. Even now years later my inner child was screaming from happiness when I saw in real life all the characters I used to love. So many memories came back to my mind.

2.Perfect photography material. Don’t we all want to brag about our amazing experiences? Taking cute photos with Disney characters or crazy photo in front of the scary rides will be guaranteed social media hit among your friends.

3.Shooting game rides. I don’t know if there is official English name for these (please inform me if you know…) but I mean the rides where you sit in small moving car and have laser gun to shoot targets. You get points depending how many/what targets you hit.

Well whatever the name is I loved these. My sister is super good at shooting (scary right?) so we competed which one of us was better. I can’t recall who won so it was probably my sister. My brother and dad didn’t have a change against us.

labyrinth

4.Alice in wonderland Labyrinth was my favorite place in whole Paris Disneyland. I used to think this was boring movie when I was child. But I always identified myself with Alice. (Fun fact: Alice’s name is Liisa in the Finnish version of this story!) You will not get lost in this labyrinth but there is change of finding interesting paths and corners.

5.Cool Rides (aka the ones where children aren’t allowed) are one side of Disneyland. I’m not friend of them so can’t really tell you if it’s good reason to visit. I listed it here because the people coming out of them seemed happy. Roller coasters are scary…

6.Fireworks. One word: fireworks. Every day ends with amazing show in Disneyland. At the closing time you should try to find good place to see the princess castle. There will be light shows, story time and firework show beyond compare.

disneyland

7.To buy souvenirs and hunt for the perfect stuffed animal. There is souvenir shop in every corner of Disneyland. You can’t even exit some of the rides without walking through one.

8.To end up in crazy ride you didn’t want to go… And hate it but feel like you will survive from anything after that experience. Some of the rides in Disneyland are crazy. Or maybe it’s just because I hate theme park rides?

Well however if you are as scared of dying when the ride accidentally breaks down just when your ride it (very likely…) don’t go to the big tower where someone is screaming constantly. Because I’m dummy we went there with my sister.

madcat

There was today’s Wanderlust Wednesday! Have you visited Disneyland in Paris or elsewhere? Or is it on your bucket list?

I’m currently traveling around Finland and even traveled to Estonia. Those stories will be out this weekend and later on. And of course new Wanderlust Wednesday is going to come out in week. So see you soon!

With love,

Viivi Severina

13 Free things in Montpellier

Montpellier is cozy old city full of students and French tourists. Perfect place to spend summer weekend or visit while in the south France. For broke travelers like me good point is all the free attractions and museums. Here some for those who want to experience Montpellier without a lot of money (or just want to see some pics from my trip…)

 

1. Office de Tourisme

Start your Montpellier trip from here. Check out what is happening in Montpellier and decide what to do. The staff is helpful and you can get good tips from them. Don’t forget to take the free map!

 

2. Place de la Comedie

The key place of Montpellier. This plaza never sleeps and even at bad weather people walk trough this main point of the city. Different performers from clowns to break dancers entertain tourists on weekends. Take pictures of beautiful fountain or relax in some of the countless cafes, bars and restaurants circling Place de la Comedie. Perfect for people watching and getting to know the local life.

 

Night Montpellier
At night Esplanade Charles de-Gaulle is light up beautifully

3. Esplanade Charles de-Gaulle

Starting from Place de la Comedie and ending up to Le corum (the new opera house) goes boulevard worth of seeing. Three major attractions are situated on this road. Musée Fabre, Le Pavillon populaire photography museum and the Office de Tourisme.

Also funny artsy playgrounds, interesting old sculpture (painted in bright colors) and cute small cafes/shops make this street one of the must see places. You shouldn’t miss the cool graffiti that are situated when you walk down the Le Corum’s stairs.

 

4. Le Pavillon Populaire

Free photography museum. When we went to Montpellier it wasn’t open so I wish you luck. Apparently it’s closed for long times between exhibitions. This is must place to go if it is open.

 

Montpellier beautiful urban tram
If you don’t cross any tram tracks, you are still in the central area of Montpellier. You will always find back to the Place de la Comedie using tram.

5. The Centrum

In between Monpellier’s tram lines is the centrum part of this old city. Tiny alleys, cute gift shops, tasty cafes and the newest fashion trends. You find almost every of these free sights from this area and even if you don’t want to visit anywhere just wandering around the streets is cool experience.

 

6. Le Carre Sainte Anne

Changing contemporary art exhibits for free! As environment for modern art this former cathedral is perfect. The new art and old settings make funny contrast. Go tourist office and ask what exhibition is currently on.

Oh and don’t get lost while trying to find this cathedral!

 

Antigone Montpellier
I don’t admit being like kid and running over that fountain while avoiding the water… It was fun!

7. Antigone

I heard rumors saying how locals hate this part of the city. For me it looked massive and I took pictures in awe. I don’t know how to describe this place. It is big building/buildings between Polygone shopping mall and Le Lez river.

There is some fountains and restaurants. Not must see place but if you have time good place to take rest. And remember go to see the river (you can even cross it!)

 

Montpellier alley
This is small alley somewhere near museum La Panacee… My map said it should be in this place but like you can see it wasn’t! (Or maybe I just suck at reading maps?)

8. La Panacee

Another free museum! Changing interesting exhibitions and cozy sun patio. Only negative side is how hard it’s to find (even when using map and GPS!) Worth of getting lost and maybe never finding your way out of Montpellier…

 

9. Odysseum

Wander around shops and visit Ikea. And don’t miss the small plaza full of statues called park for “great men of the 20th Century”. You can also get free postcard of the famous people like Lenin, Nelson Mandela and Gandhi. (This plaza is located the opposite direction of Ikea and left side when coming out of the shopping mall.)

 

oldmontpellier
There is my friend Louis XIV. I heard story how the statue spend some time on the bottom of the ocean because the ship originally transporting it sank.

10. Place du Peyrou

Big plaza limiting to Montpellier’s Arc de Triomphe and city’s old six kilometers long water pipe. Good place to take pretty photos and maybe snap selfie with Louis XIV statue. They also arrange big antique flea markets here.

 

11. Montpellier Zoo

Go and see animals for free. Maybe not the must see place if time is the issue but who doesn’t like to go zoos?

 

beautiful beach and seashell

12. Trip to see the sea

What would be better way to spend day than visit beach and see the sea? At summer blend in with people spending their holidays and at winter time walk around deserted sea side. Gather beautiful seashells to souvenirs and build sand castles.

 

Montpellier Graffiti

13. Graffiti sighting

Montpellier is the city of street arts. Just remember to look up and there will be graffiti in the walls. And don’t forget look down because there is graffiti in the ground. Even in Montpellier’s tourist map (get it free from the tourist office) the most amazing street arts are marked.

 

Have you ever visited Montpellier or France?
What are your thoughts of this country of love and pastries?
I hope you enjoyed my post…

With a lot of love,

Viivi Severina

Travel Diary: Montpellier & Paris pt.4

 

Day 11: The art of canceling plans

We meant to do a lot. Only two days left and there’s still much to see. We ate breakfast and just decided to not do anything. Unexpected decision right?

My opinion is that even when traveling the most important thing is to know yourself. When you are tired and need free time from tourist life just take it. Cancel all of your plans and just be. This is what happened to us. We had seen and done too much and it was time to rest.

 

Day 12: Art, shopping and bye Montpellier!

Our last day in Montpellier had dedicated to visiting museum Fabre. People told us it takes whole day to explore this museum and let me tell you that it’s not joke. The place is huge. Even one day isn’t enough if you want to see everything carefully.<

 

fabre

 

There is a lot of old art pieces. Some from famous painter and some from unknown ones.<

 

fabremuseum

 

And then there is modern paintings and everything between. Also statues and changing special exhibitions.

At the end of our museum visit we started to be too tired to even properly admire the art. However the museum was amazing and I recommend it to everyone! Well you get lost easily but the staff are nice and always ready to help.

After this we did last souvenir shopping and then went back to our apartment. Our last night at Montpellier and I knew I would miss this city too.

Day 13: Hi Paris! And we got sick…

We left Montpellier before the sunrise and said our goodbyes to the sleeping city. We sat quietly in train both tired and at least I already missing the place I had called home the last two weeks.

 

montpellier4
When we finally arrived at Paris bad weather welcomed us. It started to rain when walked towards our hotel. Both of us were feeling a little bit sick and the recipe for disaster was almost ready. Our time in Paris would soon turn o nightmare…

.paris

After taking nap in our hotel we decided to start the day. It was only a couple of kilometers to the Picasso museum. Well it was two kilometers too much. I was feeling sick but I have got used to doing things even when feeling bad. But when we were in the museum my sister started to look really pale and almost fainted.

I took her to the cafe in museum (very expensive and not even good food…) After that I took her to the closest metro station and send her back to the hotel. Well at least we didn’t pay for the museums because under 26 years old Europeans get in free.

parismetro
I have always loved metros and Paris’ metro isn’t exception. There is so many lines and ways to go. It took a while for me to understand the map because it’s already been over half year from the last time I used metro. In the end I found Les Halles shopping mall without problems.

The last time I visited Les Halles was year ago and before the horrible Paris’ attacks. I knew there would be more security than the last time but the guards and security measures still surprised me. There was security people in every door with their metal detectors and other security things.

muji

My visit was still pleasant. I got flash back to Japan when visiting Muji and spend too much time in Forever 21. My trip did stop when I got really sick… I didn’t visit even half of the shops before I had to go back to the hotel.

Rest of the day we just sat on the hotel room and rested. Fun trip to Paris… right?

 

Day 14: Goodbye France!

Guess how it feels to be in Paris one day and be so sick you just decide to go airport and pass the opportunity to see the capital of romance. With heads down we left our hotel and took the long train journey towards airport.

After waiting spending six hours in airport we flew away from lovely France and headed towards home.

parisairport
I hope I see you soon Paris!

Because I didn’t have any interesting stories in this post there’s some more photos for you:

roadtrip
My favorite thing from France was the road trip we did

 

sete3
In the future I will visit Sète for longer time…

 

oldmontpellier
…and go see the charming Montpellier again!

 

arcdetriomphe
Arc De Triomphe in Montpellier

 

Montpellier6

 

beachpalavas

 

palavasbeach

 

montpellier5

 

fabremuseum2
Modern art in Musée Fabre
airportparis
Paris Charles De Gaulle airport
airplane
The last sighs of France

Thank you for reading and I will write soon!

Sincerely,
Neidotta

Travel Diary: Montpellier pt. 3

Day 8: Introverted traveler problems

Montpellier is so amazing city! Here couples in love, drug traffickers and lost tourists all fit in small park. So lovely old city where everyone live together in harmony.

Today I had my first full day with my sister to spend in the city. The morning went wandering around the old part of Montpellier.

Montpellier
Place du Peyrou

We tried to find Place du Peyrou because the rumor told in Sundays there would be antique market. Well even one seller didn’t show up. That little set back didn’t dispirit us. Between sun and small rainy moments we navigated towards La Panacee. Using map and walking circles didn’t make us look like tourists at all! The museum was kind of hard to find but in the end my skillful map reading (and iPhone) helped us there.

anatomie_de_l039automate

The exhibition Anatomie De L’Automate. I can’t even describe it so I leave it like that. However I fell in love with the museum. It’s build around patio and in the upstairs they have  artists’ residence.

After seeing this free kind of odd exhibit the museum’s restaurant attracted our attention. We even went outside once and come back inside because it seemed so scary to go and order. In the end we were able to ask the price of two people eating. 16E. And with that you got everything from appetizer to dessert and drinks.

lapanacee

Of course we did eat there. The food was amazing and even my -I don’t eat meat- sister liked it. The only problem was we never found the drinks beside coffee and cacao.

As introverted traveler this struggle is familiar for me. We definitely couldn’t ask where to find the drinks. After settling to our fate (and enviously looking boys next to us drinking their fresh orange juices) we continued our day with  full stomachs.

Then we tried to enter shopping mall and walked around the small streets but soon noticed strange thing. Every place was closed. Literally every shop and most of the restaurants and cafes had disappeared.

We then decided to leave back home tired but happy after day full of new experiences. While sitting in full tram and talking to each other happened something fun.

montpelliertram2
Even the tram tracks are artistic in Montpellier

My sister can understand some french. Of course no one knows it and when we talk Finnish everyone assumes we can’t understand them. Well I can’t but luckily I have great sister who can translate for me.

So we are sitting in tram and facing the back wall and three boys leaning on it. Of course they realize we aren’t locals but what they don’t think of is that we would understand when they talk about us.

So just tip for everyone. Always wait for the unexpected and don’t underestimate other people. Some people can speak more than one language.

 

Day 9: Let’s go see the sea!

I had googled in advance how to get into the beach using public transportation. Everything sounded so easy in internet but of course the reality wasn’t that simple. Or it would have been if we had just used the tram and walked the remaining three kilometers.

We trusted blindly to the instructions in Montpellier’s internet page and tried to use bus. We went to the place the bus was supposed to leave but never found the bus stop. As unlucky traveler that didn’t discourage me but I found new way for us to use.

montpellierbeach

So we traveled with tram towards the beach and started to walk. Halfway there we found bus stop that said there would have been cheap bus from the last tram stop to any part of the beach. We decided to use it when coming back and continued walking.

The walk was long but worth it. I have always loved seas and this beach and mystical stormy weather blew my mind. Everything looked so beautiful and there was stones and seashells everywhere.

beach

My sister loves taking photographs so we were walking slowly and she was filming and snapping pics constantly. I didn’t know should I walk watching the ground so I could pick up pretty stones or look up and see the fascinating sea and sky. I ended up doing both.

After a while we eat our snacks on picnic style and admired the sigh in front of us. There was almost no one but us. Apparently it’s not beach weather yet for french.

stones

When traveling back home and Montpellier’s centrum, we decided to go shopping. So we ended up going to Odysseum (Shopping mall/entertainment place). First thing we had to do was find food. After long seeking we found big hamburger place and the waitress welcomed us warmly. The foods looked good and everything seemed fine. We waited for the waitress come and to take our orders. We waited and waited and waited. She never came.

We were starting to panic. Should we go somewhere to order. Or should we just wait. As shy travelers asking help just wasn’t option. Then in the end we decided to sneak out of the restaurant. We only ate smoothies and bread that evening.

 

Day 10: City like art gallery

We used this day to walk around the old streets and do some shopping. I did buy cute shoes and book but I wasn’t really feeling like shopping. So in the end we just walked around and spend day at home.

In Montpellier you don’t need to even visit art museum to see paintings. The city is full of street art. Because I don’t have anything else to talk about (and this post is too long already…) here is some pics of the street arts:

streetart

 

streetartmontpellier
Can you find the big painting in this pic?
streetart2
Looks normal house, right? Look harder! The windows and everything is painted…

streetart3

streetart4

 

PS. I’m sorry I haven’t posted for long time but I have been sick lately 😦