Did you know that Barcelona is only 3 hours away from Montpellier? I didn’t realise this until I came to learn French at the EasyFrench School. It’s much closer than Paris! But during your French immersion stay, you will definitely want to check out this beautiful city in the Catalonian region of Spain.
It’s a perfect opportunity to see more of Europe, especially when you’re from a country further away or outside of Europe and don’t get to travel to Southern European cities too often.
You might think, why should I go to Spain? I want to learn French in France. True, you won’t improve your French on this trip, but that shouldn’t keep you from this great experience.
You might also be lucky enough to travel with Spanish speaking students from the EasyFrench School in Montpellier, as many of the students I traveled with were. However, they also struggled with the language sometimes because of the differences between the southern American dialects of Spanish and Catalan.
Coming back to speaking French in Spain, you can always practice with your fellow French students while you’re walking through the intimate streets of Barcelona. Or you can chat a little bit with the other French tourists in the city, of which you will definitely meet a few. And even if you’re not trying to speak French purposely, you will find yourself saying “bonjour” and “merci” to the waiters in the restaurants and “pardon” to the people you bump into on the streets. I was quite pleased to discover how much of what I have learnt on my intensive French course had really sunk in. Another nice discovery was that there are a lot of similar French words in Catalan, so you might read a sign in Catalan and see that you understand the sense of it because of your newly required French skills.
It’s So Easy to Get from Montpellier to Barcelona
I arrived after a 3-hour bus drive at a station more or less in the center of the city. You can also go by train which only takes 2.5 hours. It can be cheaper if you book the tickets way in advance, but in general it’s a bit more expensive. Another friend of mine from my DALF preparation class chose to go by BlaBla Car which is another cool option and much cheaper than both bus and train. In addition, you could have a nice French chat with a local or with a resident of Barcelona and pick up some insider tips.
From our bus station, we walked for half an hour to our hostel, only to end up at the wrong side of the city. But it was by no means a waste of time, since we, unknowingly, wandered into the gothic quarter of Barcelona. It’s a vibrant and colorful place. When you look up to the sky, the leaves are tumbling over the old balconies. There’s a lot of street art in which the people express themselves in unique ways. It’s bizarre, provocative and creative. The whole quarter is closed off from the busy city, giving it its own feeling of seclusion. When you’re there, it´s easy to get lost in the narrow alleys and lose your sense of direction. And it’s warm and cold at the same time. It is warm because of the sun that heats the walls, and cool from the shadows at the bottom of the street.
Another half hour later we finally got to our hostel. It was a nice place, but most importantly, it was the cheapest option. You can also rent an AirBNB which might be nicer but will also cost you more. Of course, as with anything, if you get a good group of people from the Easy French Immersion School in Montpellier to go with you it will save you a lot of money and you will be able to share a wonderful experience during your language stay.
If you’re still not convinced that you should check out Barcelona during your French immersion stay in Montpellier stay tuned for the next article where I will describe how you can make the most of this amazing city.