Listen up, mesdames et messieurs: it is time to rethink your plans for a romantic getaway in Paris. Madness, you say? Just hear me out – I’ve been there, lived there and would happily give away the old T-shirt.
Now just for a moment, park your image of you and your partner roaming around the city’s streets, past the Eiffel Tour and the steep steps of Montmartre. While a wonderful idea in theory, the underwhelming reality would be enough to put a damper on your holiday. The tourist’s experience of Paris will inevitably come packaged with never-ending queues, extortionate prices, unfriendly service and unbearable pollution and smells. I’m afraid that the romantic air in the so-called “City of Love” is really all words-straight-from-Hollywood’s mouth and no trousers.
But fear not – there is a new kid on the French block that I know will seduce you both just as thoroughly as it did me during my time living there! For those couples who lust after a taste of authentic French culture, allow me to introduce you to the breathtakingly beautiful city of Montpellier! It is a hidden gem camouflaged under its student city status and overshadowed by its southern neighbours Nice and Cannes – and it is all yours for the taking.
Montpellier will out-sex Paris any day, and here are five reasons why:
1) A unique charm like no other
The off-putting snobbery hanging in the Parisian air has no place in that special “je ne sais quoi” you will experience in Montpellier. Free from Paris’ suffocating blanket of pollution and dirt, and boasting the largest pedestrianised area in France, Montpellier will clear both your mind and your air passages. Reach new emotional heights as the city sets you free from any obligation to follow the tourist-beaten track. Stroll hand-in-hand through the winding backstreets in the Old City Centre. Stop for a glass of Picpoul de Pinet on one of the city’s idyllic squares. Strip away any unnecessary frivolities, and lose yourselves in the city and each other’s company.
2) A young culture of acceptance, art and intellect
Unlike Paris, Montpellier’s history is mostly untouched by the grime of industry. Instead, it is built upon the bodies of its universities. Thanks to its students, Montpellier has a vibe that Paris may never hope to replicate: it is cool, calm and collected, and welcomes all with open arms. You don’t have to walk far to get a glimpse of all who have touched the city. From the ancient Roman aqueduct to the hippy-chic fashion, to the Australian coffee shops, the diversity will overwhelm and consume you. Spot the warm embrace of variety in the art in the Musée Fabre and the architectural showpieces scattered across the city, too. Everything about Montpellier will make you both feel right at home, and will guarantee that your jaws drop from the very minute you land!
3) ‘Sexiest’ transport and good links
Even the Montpellierian way of getting from A to B is a swankier and sexier affair than a trip on the stuffy Métro in Paris. Designed by the one and only Christian Lacroix, Montpellier’s trams have been called “the sexiest in the world”. These bad boys aren’t just there to look pretty, either. Montpellier’s tram network, along with the bus routes, covers an impressive expanse of the city and its outskirts. Let’s also not forget to mention that Montpellier has a well-connected train station and its own airport. Even the Eurostar stops here – enough said.
4) Nearby Beaches
One thing Paris will never be able to provide is the chance to strip down to your swimsuits and frolic around together in the waves. Located too far from any desirable coastline, Paris’ hands are tied in the face of this seductive wildcard. Even renowned, Southern French holiday spots such as Nice will disappoint with their pebbly beaches. All in all, the sandy beaches around Montpellier are your best bet. Only a short tram, bus or car-ride away are the likes of La Grande Motte and Palavas les Flots. Don’t forget to stop at a restaurant by the shore to share a platter of mouth-wateringly fresh seafood for the perfect end to your sun and sea-filled day!
5) A dash of Mediterranean flavour
I have saved the bests bits until last! Montpellier’s location in the South near the Mediterranean coastline means that the summer season lasts all the way from June until late September. Enjoy hot, sunny weather that will make the Parisians go green with envy!
The relaxed, Mediterranean influence of the surrounding countries Spain and Italy has rubbed off on Montpellier’s prices, too. They are surprisingly decent, and peanuts in comparison to the ones in Paris! The cuisine is still unmistakably French, but pizza and tapas restaurants are also top-notch and common-place around these parts. Life is slower, nightlife wraps up later, and the people are friendlier. There is often no need to book a table at a restaurant or bar on a Friday or Saturday – just stroll into wherever catches your fancy without having to suffer the excessive queuing. Oh, the sweet ‘mercis’! Far from party-pooping all over your fun, Montpellier will allow you both to go with the flow and enjoy the French-style fiesta.
Let Montpellier knock your socks off and offer you lovebirds what Paris simply cannot. Go and see for yourselves for the sexy holiday of a lifetime – go on, I dare you!