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at home in Montpellier

Montpellier is really starting to feel like home – too bad I only have another few days. This morning I rushed off early to try the Olympic swimming pool, because I was getting my hair coloured and cut at 10 a.m. and knew I wouldn’t swim again after that and wreck it. (In a place like this, where it’s breathless and steamy from dawn to dusk, it’s impossible to exercise and I can feel the kilos of cheese settling in.) The pool is about 15 minutes walk from here in a strange section of town called Antigone – they’ve torn down whatever was there and replaced it with a pretentious, multi-block replica of ancient Greece, towering Acropolis-type buildings with pillars and fountains with naked discus-throwers included. Very odd, especially as it’s hard to access unless you go through the shopping centre called Polygone, which doesn’t open for business till 10.

Made it to the lovely big pool to find out that I’d forgotten a towel and in any case was due shortly at the hairdresser. So I swam briefly and patted myself with my clothes which dried instantly in the broiling sun as I walked to the Polygone. And there … the wonderful Justin, who cut my hair a very long time ago, in … June, was it? I think I told you about him then, a Brit who sold two successful businesses in London to move to a village in the south of France, because he wanted his 4 children raised in a safe place. Though he doesn’t need the money, he keeps working “to stay on the radar in France,” and is absolutely superb at his job. I emerged a new, well-sheared woman, my Farrah Fawcett curls gone, feeling, if not looking, ten years younger. If you want a good haircut in the south of France, he’s the man for you.
On the way home I stopped in at the Gare again, and there he was in the Acceuil office, the young man who’d helped me through my trauma. At one point that night, he said that while I was waiting for the train to Marseilles, I could just sit in the office if I wanted, “si vous etes trop angoissée.” If you’re too anguished to leave, he said, just sit here. What a sweetheart!
He recognised me immediately. I told him I’d come to return his pen and to thank him. As young men are, he was self-deprecating and embarrassed, though his colleague, who was not the man working with him that night, teased and said, “Madame, why don’t you take him back chez vous? He’s very nice and does the dishes.” Tempting, indeed. I told him what his kindness had meant to me and shook his hand. From the way they all reacted, I do not think this kind of scene happens often in the Acceuil office in the Montpellier train station.
And then, work. I went to Lynn’s, where it’s a bit cooler, to spend the afternoon working on the memoir. Fiddled and tore apart and found a new beginning that I hope works better. There is something, who knows what. Emerged at 6 to a wall of heat.
Tonight there’s an event on the Place de l’Opera, a wine and food-tasting, you buy a ticket and get 3 dishes from a big choice and a glass of wine, and there’ll be music. Two things are sure: it’ll be hot, and it’ll be good. Will you join me?



4 Responses to “at home in Montpellier”

  1. mpprh says:

    Just to add

    The new part of the city was originally a military area.

    You can walk through the shopping centre 24/7


  2. beth says:

    Peter, thanks for enlightening me. The only direct exit that I'd found was through Galeries Lafayette men's department. But I did find my way around the edges.

    Do you find Antigone a bit overdone or is it just me?

  3. mpprh says:


    I'm totally pro Montpellier.

    I'm hoping that Tram 1 will go past Odysseum to have a terminus on the A9 autoroute. It has been discussed, but I've seen no more.

    I'm very happy with the pedestrian area, and like the Greek slant.

    I visit once or twice per month.

    I've got photos of the area here :


  4. beth says:

    Found the photos though not sure which are yours – but anyway, they're all good. Many thanks. I loved Montpellier. Now that I'm in Paris, I love Paris. I love France.

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I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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