Please excuse my absence for the past week, its been quite eventful here in Montpellier. Today is my last full day in this beautiful city that I’ve come to call home. Tomorrow I’ll take the train from Gare St. Roch to Paris Gare de Lyon, then a connecting flight from Orly to London City Airport. I don’t know when I’ll be back in France again, let alone Montpellier.
As I’ve said before, I live in some very low budget student accommodation. This entails many short comings. For example our internet has been disabled for a week, hot water has not worked since last tuesday, our heating is non-existent and at 12.03am last night (right when i was the in the middle of a row of knitting) our power shut off completely, until 9am this morning.
The explanation for all this: The lone maintenance man who services the 600 students living here, has been on vacation. This would have seemed outrageous to me a few months ago. However in true French style, I’ve come to accept european ideas of leisure and obligation.
When the power shut off, the residents who were still awake ran into the corridors and the front steps where the only light was. The inadequacy of our living conditions was a source of amused conversation with strangers. Students shared cigarettes outside, and joked this was the beginning of the Mayan’s end of the world. Someone produced a packet of speculoos and we conceded that maybe this was a sign we should be in bed anyway. We’ll fix it in the morning.
Nothing is urgent in France, we’re very laid back, unassuming, mildly amused at the frantic pace of other societies.
Montpellier is by and far a student and migrant town. Most parts are covered in graffiti and other forms of street art. At some point in the 90s, the local heritage commission tried to have graffiti banned and a city wide removal of all street art. It came to nothing, and no one followed it up once the Spring came and Montpellier’s arts and culture festivals began.
Here is some of my favourite street art, as spotted over the semester. If the the nonchalant culture that denies me hot water and power, is responsible for preserving all this- then i’m content with a flash light and a friend to snuggle.