As a teacher for French immersion programs I have met many students from all over the world. I have met students who were fascinated by French wines, French gastronomy, French architecture…. But once I hosted a student who was passionate about French gardens and parks.
She always wanted to visit the parks in Montpellier during her French immersion program. In fact she visited all the parks and gardens in Montpellier and meticulously took pictures and kept a journal of her visits. This actually surprised me and I enquired more about her passion for parks and gardens. She explained to me that French parks and gardens are known the world over for their designs and symmetrical patterns. This was news to me, so I decided to do some research on google.
My research led me to a whole new world. Little did I know that French gardens or rather le jardin a la française is known all over the world! It is a style of garden based on symmetry and the principle of imposing order on nature. The Gardens of the Chateau de Versailles exemplifies perfectly this concept.
So if you are passionate about French gardens and parks here are some you can visit in Montpellier during your French immersion program:
1- Le jardin de l'Esplanade
This garden is very accessible as it is located in the city center. It is just beside the place de la comédie, Montpellier’s central square. It is filled with small winding paths, trimmed green grass, a small pond and beautiful flowers and shrubs. All this just a stone throw away from shops, cafés and a shopping mall. The towering trees will provide you cool respite from the bright sunshine of Montpellier after your shopping spree. Many street artists, students, and love birds often take a leisurely break on its benches.
2- Le jardin des plantes (The Botanical Garden)
Montpellier has one of the oldest botanical gardens in Europe. It was the first one established in France and it served as a model for designing the other botanical gardens in France. It has around 2,680 unique species of plants. The botanical garden belongs to the University of Montpellier and is free of cost to visit. Whether you are a science or botany student or not you will definitely enjoy visiting it.
3- Domaine d’O
It is a bit far from Montpellier’s city center but it is worth going there. It is easily accessible by public transport. The Domaine d’O Park consists of an 18th century castle, a theatre and an outdoor amphitheater. However, the garden dates back to the 11th century. The castle and its gardens are classified as important historical Monuments by the government. You will definitely enjoy walking in the geometrically organized gardens, pools and fountains.
4 -Les Rives du Lez
You are into jogging? Then Les Rives du Lez is perfect for you! Le Rives du Lez, is not really a garden, it is a long green lush strip along the banks of the river Lez that crosses Montpellier. In other words, it is a long park along the river Lez. It is just five minutes’ walk from the city center. It consists of a cycling lane as well. So if you are not into jogging, you can just cycle along the river Lez or just take a relaxing and pleasant stroll under the shades of the trees. If you cycle south of the river Lez you will reach the beautiful beaches of Montpellier.
5-La Promenade Royale du Peyrou
This is another park which is a stone’s throw away from the hustle and bustle of the city center. Built between the 17th and 18th century, it is also labeled as a historical monument by the government. La Promenade Royale du Peyrou is a large esplanade filled with lush green lawns. It is just on the outskirts of the old town historic district of the city. Just beside the Peyrou esplanade you will find the Arc de Triompe (Triumphal Arch) and the château d’eau (water tower). It also gives you a panoramic view of Montpellier and of the arches of a aqueduct. It is worth the visit.
If you are an outdoor person then you will enjoy visiting the above parks, gardens and green spaces. They will allow you to take a stroll, relax, lie down, read a book or have a nice conversation with a local during your French immersion program.