If you are a culture vulture and wanting to find a place to take a French immersion course in France that can satisfy your curiosity then Montpellier is the place for you. Learning French in Montpellier means you have a huge repertoire of museums and galleries all within walking distance. You have both international, national and local work to be enjoyed at a number of institutions. This article is dedicated to the most established of the lot. The mighty Musée Fabre. It’s one of the top attractions in Montpellier and is offers never ending downpour of discovery.
A Brief History of the Biggest Museum in Montpellier
The museum was founded by François-Xavier Fabre a painter from Montpellier itself in 1825. He got things rolling by donating a large part of his collection to the institution and this inspired many artists throughout the years to do the same. Notably they received several paintings by Dutch and Flemish masters which diversified and deepened the collection and is still a very visible attribute of the museum. Fabre himself then enriched the collection even more with a big legacy left upon his death.
There is a temporary exhibition running until March which showcases what came before the museum so if you want to take a break from your French immersion studies and go further back in time get yourself down there.
In the early 2000s the Fabre underwent a 60 million Euro renovation catapulting it into the modern art scene whilst holding onto what made it unique. In Febuary of this year they are celebrating the 10 year anniversary of the completion of the work with a spectacular weekend for everyone; art-lover or not. With free entry, projection shows, special visits and music it’s bound to be worth a visit.
On that note the Fabre is ridiculously easy to get to but then again so is everywhere in Montpellier. It’s why it’s so great for French immersion students you can get anywhere quick and easy. The museum is just a 10 minute stroll from the Easy French Immersion School. You could go after your DELF exam course or intensive French course every day if you wanted. Students can buy a yearlong membership for 9 euros! This provides you with unlimited free access to both the permanent and the temporary exhibitions. What’s more is that you can take a guest for free on Sundays; the permanent collection is free for the guest but they have to pay a reduced rate for the temporary ones.
Another offer is that the 1st Sunday of every month they offer free entry and also free guided tours as well which are well worth taking advantage of. This month they are doing a tour of all the new collections at the Fabre. You can rent English audio guides for 3 euros as well but if you are proactive you can go onto the website and download them for free. There is a cloak room too so you don’t have to worry about lugging your bag about all day and if you do get a little fatiguied the museum is encircled by wonderful cafés so you can have a relaxing sit and a bit of lunch and head back in for a second round if you want.
The wonderful collection is quite diverse with both contemporary and traditional work with a leaning towards the latter. A large part is devoted to paintings from the 15th to the 19th century with several works from renowned artists and movements like impressionism. This section of the museum is cleverly arranged chronologically which allows you to see the evolution of the styles which is particularly useful to those like me who find it hard to follow the coming and going of different movements in history. Then the contemporary work provides and interesting juxtaposition between tradition and modernity which seems to be a undercurrent of the whole museum.
As well as these they have some ancient ceramics from Greece and the rest of Europe and lots of sculptures too. They also have some innovative and fascinating aspects that are designed to make you think differently about art. For example recently there was an interesting interactive section attempting to show how blind people can experience art and using various tools try to communicate the experience.
The teachers at the EasyFrench Immersion School also like to use some of the paintings in their classes for various exercises and it is a nice little touch when you are exploring this place. So there you go if you decide to take a language immersion course at the Easy French Language School you will constant access to a rich pool of culture that you can access so easily for not a lot of money and deepen your understanding of French culture. It’s not only extremely enjoyable but a great asset to you while you are learning French in France.