The Red List

August 4, 2009

Montpellier and beyond

Filed under: Uncategorized — rpang @ 12:05 pm

As soon as we got to Montpellier, I added it to my list of places I’d like to live one day, right next to Girona and Lisbon. When we entered the city, we immediately detected a fun, youthful vibe from its inhabitants. A big university town, Montpellier was overrun with students, bookstores, and cheap food. First things first, of course, we moseyed over to tourism to get a map and then over to the supermarket to get a box of ice cream sandwiches. Such is life on the road in Europe. After that, we began walking around the main city and exploring its central Plaçe de la Comédie. A city of festivals, Montpellier exhibited a long line of aerial photographs of Earth’s many scenes right down the center of the plaza. Next to those were a set of chess tables in which a kid who couldn’t have been more than 15 went around to each, playing and winning game after game of chess with the old men who resided there. Later, as we waited for our couchsurfing host to finish up with work, I wandered over to a very cool looking book store, built of several diagonally stacked floors all sharing an enormous window that looked out over the city. The only problem was that all the books were in French. Still, it was enjoyable to wander about and open books up and pretend like I understood every word.

After our short exploration of the main plaza, we met with our couchsurfing hosts and were led by bike (our favorite kind of vehicle) to their apartment in the middle of town. Once again, we were not at all disappointed, and shared a lovely night of food and conversation in their apartment. Compared to the Spanish desert we were stuck in more than a month ago, all of this was still heaven.

The following day, we wandered about Montpellier some more, eventually ending up in an English bookstore in the late morning. After a month and a half in non-English-speaking countries, it was quite a relief to find a whole store full of pieces of media in our native tongue. If I ever do end up back in Montpellier for an extended period of time, I shall work in that bookstore.

Though we didn’t discover it until we arrived in the city, our days in Montpellier coincided with the tail end of the Festival de Radio France et Montpellier Languedoc-Rousillon, a month long festival occuring in Montpellier every July. We picked up a schedule for it at Le Corum, Montpellier’s big theater/opera house, and decided that later in the day we would attend a free film and try to understand it. Thus, when later in the day rolled around, we went to see the film. Because it was some fancy independent art film, there was a short interview at the beginning with the director of which we didn’t understand a word. Still, though, we pretended we were locals, clapping when they clapped and lauging when they laughed, secretly hoping they weren’t laughing at us. When the film started, we understood even less, except that some musician from France was born, lived, played some music, and died at some point within the last century (give or take a century). Furthermore, because they didn’t have much footage, about half of the film just showed stock clips of random objects like cars or ancient ceramics spinning around while someone narrated in French about the musician’s life. Needless to say, it wasn’t as captivating as Harry Potter had been.

After the film we returned to the apartment for more food and conversation, always appreciated, and went to sleep early so we could get to Nimes by midday the next day. And so we did, the bike ride to Nimes was very easy and passed through several small towns bustling with fruit markets in the morning. Getting inside the city of Nimes, however, took a little bit of effort, as the whole historical center was surrounded by a shell of industry and commerce. Once inside, though, we realized what a nice city it really was, full of beautiful gardens and ancient architecture. It even boasted an enormous coliseum, yet another sign that we were getting closer to our final destination, Rome!

In Nimes, we again found a place to stay for the night with some cool couchsurfers from Lyon, but living in Nimes for the summertime. They were a bit older than us, having just finished undergrad, and very friendly. When the night came, we walked down the street to get some Turkish kebabs, and then sat on their terrace to watch over the city and dine. After that, they led us to a fun little courtyard club with a live band that was completely hidden from tourists. There we, as expected, enjoyed fine wines and fine conversation. Yet another pleasant night in France. Hoorah!



  1. I needed more structure to the body paragraphs in this one. Your use of textual evidence is a bit scant (to say the least ::::))))), and i didn’t really get a sense of your THESIS. you know, that thing we talked about in class? having a THESIS?

    ” Needless to say, it wasn’t as captivating as Harry Potter had been. ”

    if it’s needless to say, why say it?

    huh, smart guy?

    who do you think you are anyways?!

    ooo, look at me, i bike across europe, i’m funny, i watch movies, I like harry potter, he’s daniel radcliffe, i have hair like him, look at my bicycle, do you have one like me, no, i don’t, ooo la la la la la.


    yet strangely loveable.

    i’ll think more on it.

    Final Grade: A= (that’s right, equals. not plus, not minus. but not quite just an A either. that’s a metaphor for your whole piece, if you think about it. (which you won’t. you dumb man. boy. ))



    beat poet

    and you know it
    don’t gotta grow it
    just gotta show it

    who i am
    who i really am
    on the inside
    go for a ride
    setting money aside
    never gotta decide
    to find a place to hide.

    in my heart, it’s all black

    Comment by abe "good old honest abe lincoln" lincoln, MD — August 17, 2009 @ 5:37 am | Reply

  2. but i’m back on track
    don’t want to ever go back
    so i take a new tack
    and try to find what i lack
    you don’t know, you’re white

    not black.

    like me

    see the forest for the tree

    eating echoes from your pee
    now you’re wondering with me
    will i ever even see?
    what’s deep inside of me

    answer: that’s metaphysically a difficult desire to satisfy. can we ever truly know our own selves? let’s ask our friendly europe biking zen heroes: michael and rich!!!

    michael: a koan: why don’t pigs fly?

    rich: because my feet are made of lobster

    (rich does a small but ferocious dance)
    (michael is spontanously enlightened)

    Comment by abe "good old honest abe lincoln" lincoln, MD — August 17, 2009 @ 5:47 am | Reply

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