20 November, 2010

Playing hookie, or l'ecole de buisson.

You might jump the gun and guess Paris, mais non, cheeky thing.  These are all images of Montpellier, right smack on the Mediterranean, and pretty citified compared to my normal haunts.  Even if it's no Paris.
It's where you can go to get all the necessary vaccinations before getting on a jet airplane to go to Vietnam.  For example.  Where you can walk into an in-the-flesh Habitat just to get that familiar low-voltage thrill of seeing some new and intriguing design pieces.  Where the palms nearly outnumber the plane trees, and the public transport's lately going all fab, with sleek, quiet trams in operation and more rail being laid by the minute (car traffic being rendered logically semi-hellish due to related construction in the historical center.)
With a student population of some 55,000, give or take, the people-watching involves the young and the plugged in.  I wanted to ask some of these youngsters how they thought human civilization had ever made it without tech gadgets, like those things in their ears, but I was too busy taking pictures.  You know, with my own tech-y gadget.
Montpellier's where you can go for a gestalt shift-inducing hair cut, should the need arise.  As in, go to the posh shop girl with the haircut you really like, and ask her where the best salon is.  This then entails heading off the beaten path and away from all the salons with the floor to ceiling display windows, down into side streets you didn't know were there to begin with, into a tiny, sort-of place.  Squeezed between two shops, a door with a most uninspiring buzzer.  You go in, through a courtyard, up a grand stair, to be fussed over and emerge, the weightless butterfly from the chrysalis, or something close to that anyway.
While you're tossing your styled mane jauntily right to left and back, you may be startled to notice the city's Christmas decorations are already going up.  It's only just mid-November, but they don't have the Thanksgiving buffer here to delay the mercantile inclinations of the shop-owners.  No carols yet, though.
It is a city for strollers (by this I mean the two heeled kind), with broad esplanades and parks, but lacking the Roman backwater feel of Nimes.  Between you and I, I still prefer Nimes' timelessness.  But this is a good quick taste of the city life for while your kids are at school, working far harder than you.  I'd definitely come meet you here for coffee. For example.


  1. So how does the hair look? Mine has grown ridiculously long because I'm too scared to try that French on for size.
    There's another wine festival here in MPL next weekend. I'm looking forward to it. It's a great student city.
    Glad you liked the digs...

  2. Hi Aidan,

    I love the cut! It feels liberating, silly as that sounds. And fresh.

    I won't be able to make the MPL wine festival, more's the pity, but I can't really complain, as I will be en route to Vietnam...


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