As you can see from this post’s title, I didn’t have the greatest day at Montpellier.
It started off well: nice early start, successfully caught the train on time, walked through to Montpellier’s centre without issue. I loved being in Montpellier, as it’s a gorgeous little city, and had fun exploring.
Unfortunately, things started getting bad when I went to its famous museum, and as a consequence, the day has forever been ruined for me.
Exploring the city
Montpellier’s famous Musée de Fabre was what originally attracted me to the city, but as it was closed when arrived, I had to find something else to do. I decided to go for a bit of a stroll and check out what the city had to offer before spending the afternoon at the museum.
As per usual, I managed to stumble upon a church. I don’t remember the name, unfortunately, but it was lovely inside.
I believe, at the time, I was worried that I would be thrown out for wearing a short skirt.
I still had a fair amount of time to kill before the museum opened, so I walked through the city centre to Montpellier’s Arc de Triomphe and then to the Place Royale du Peyrou beyond. It was unfortunately undergoing renovations, but I still found it lovely to be there!
I wanted to buy some lunch and pop over to the Jardin des Plantes, but unfortunately, it was closed until midday. I never made it back, so that’s on the list for next time I’m in Montpellier!
I decided to buy lunch at a little café recommended to me in my Lonely Planet book, but the time I got there, I was far too hungry for the small slice of cake they had on offer and went to a fantastic little bakery just next door. It was lovely to sit outside and munch on a delicious apple and caramelised biscuit tart while reading and people-watching.
The Musée de Fabre
It was around midday when I finally wandered over to the museum for my afternoon visit. With that in mind, I had about four hours to explore before I had to catch the train home.
I found the first part of the museum incredibly interesting. I’d accidentally skipped the first two floors and headed straight up to the section housing 19th and 20th century art, but I didn’t mind. The museum holds some incredibly beautiful works. I found it particularly amusing and very interesting to look at the portraits commissioned by a particularly narcissistic collector (I can’t remember his name) as every picture was in a completely different style and the artists took wildly varying approaches to painting him. Over the course of thirty or so years, many paintings were created of him, and captured the artist’s various perceptions of the man from his youthful, healthy years right through to his death. It was fantastic to be able to see his transformation.
When I was walking up the stairs to my next destination, I found it very strange when one of the guards came up and started talking to me in the mostly empty museum. Even though he just wanted to make sure I knew where I was going, I still felt wary, as I’d never had a museum guard come up and talk to me before.
I found it even stranger when, once I’d reached the Impressionist section on the next floor, the next security guard also struck up a conversation with me. He was much older, and, with my poor understanding of French at the time, I had a bit of trouble understanding him sometimes, but he was very friendly and showed me the history behind a lot of the paintings. It was quite interesting to learn about how this artwork was painted just in Montpellier, near his house, but I felt quite uncomfortable and couldn’t wait to get to the next section.
Unfortunately, the third guard was much worse.
When he sidled up to me and called me pretty in an empty room, I first felt flattered, but after he asked for my number and tried to coax me to come back to Montpellier, I became very scared. He was persistent, too, unlike the other idiots that had come up to me during my time in France– he followed me throughout the entire museum, leering and trying to get information from me. The longer I was in the section, the more I was absolutely terrified and wanted to leave the museum, but I felt I couldn’t do anything because no one else was around. I didn’t think I could do anything because the person who I’d talk to was the one causing the trouble in the first place.
I finally left the space he was surveilling and moved into the modern art section, where the disinterested guard looked at me once and then went back to his newspaper. I found an empty seat in front of a plain black painting and burst into tears.
I know that maybe I shouldn’t have written an entire post about this, but I think it’s necessary to show all of my experiences on this journey, both good and bad. Not everything can be bunnies and rainbows, and there are definitely dangers to being a single female traveller in a foreign country. I’m just thankful that this has been one of few problems that I have faced on this trip, and I’m so grateful to the fourth or fifth guard I met who managed to calm me down later on.
I’m absolutely fine now, and got home safely, but now my trip to Montpellier has been tainted in my mind. Whenever I think of it, I feel scared, and that’s not ok. I’m determined to return one day, though, and enjoy myself properly – or at least, give that guard a piece of my mind.