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A weekend in Montpellier

17th July 2016

It was six years ago when I lasted visited Montpellier, where I lived for six weeks during a school exchange program. I stayed in a beautiful house with the Crampette family, and to be honest it was one of the best experiences of my life so far. It’s impossible to know where life will take you, but there’s absolutely no way I would have thought that I would be visiting Montpellier again in my current situation. It cost me 50 euro and a little bit over two hours on the TGV.

Even though I only spent two days back in Montpellier, it was incredible to explore the streets again and see my friends. I recognised Nicolas and his girlfriend immediately at the train station, and it felt like nothing had changed!

We went for lunch at my favourite Boulangerie de l’Aiguillerie near Lycée Joffre for a mandatory baguette. We walked the streets, and we ate dinner at a nice restaurant in the street called Le Bouchon St Roch. The ambience of this place during summer is stunning, and it’s given me a totally new perspective of where I was living so many years ago.

You can see my “hike” on strava here.

That’s not to say Montpellier during winter isn’t nice, but it’s completely different during the summer. The vibes are happier, and after spending more time travelling around Europe for racing, I can see why Montpellier is such a beautiful city.

During my exchange, we also made a weekend trip to their grandfather’s house, which is situated in a little town called Alixan, just outside of Valence and near the base of the Alps. We went skiing in a village called “Les Deux Alpes”, which is ironically very close to the infamous tour de france climb ‘Alpe D’Huez’, and the ‘Col du Galibier’. At the time, I had absolutely no idea about these climbs or how iconic they are in the world of cycling. In fact, from what I understood, Nicolas’ grandpa was a national level rower, and later became interested in cycling – think Sean Lake – and competed at a high level.

I remember he showed me his full carbon Trek bike, but back then I didn’t really know the difference between Shimano 105, or Dura Ace, so I can’t really recall if it was any good. But it probably was. So in fact, the family who I was living with had lots of interest in the Tour de France, and cycling in general. It’s a little bit amusing to realise these things now, and slightly ironic to return again as a professional cyclist.

I’m sorry if this is coming across as too sentimental. Maybe it’s not… but for me the trip back to Montpellier was special for many reasons.

It’s only too easy to remember the decisions I have made so far in my life, and to think about how different things could be today. Initially, I didn’t even enjoy the idea of learning French and it was my parents who recommended it. Today, it’s possible that I can make regular trips to Montpellier, and maybe I could even live there for a while to do some training. Maybe next year, who knows?

For now, my journey has been incredible, and I’m just extremely grateful to be doing what I do; travelling the world, and racing my bike.

Oh, and drinking coffee out of a bowl for breakfast!

Thanks for reading,


  1. Thanks for sharing this Brendan.It’s interesting to know a little about the athletes we follow and cheer on. Cheers, Wendy Superfan.

    1. bman11476@gmail.com

      You’re welcome Wendy, thanks for reading and following

  2. Amazing how the pieces of the puzzle of life all come together to make the picture! How lovely to read your reflection of things. We think of you often and try to keep an ear and eye out for any coverage of your racing. All of our best.

    1. bman11476@gmail.com

      Thanks guys! I have Portugal in 10 days time, and then I’m back in Australia by mid August 🙂

  3. C’est toujours un plaisir de suivre tes aventures sur les routes lointaines. Bonne chance en Portugal, Brendan.

    1. bman11476@gmail.com

      Merci pour tes commentaires, j’aime que tu as écrit en français Mary. Malheureusement, j’ai oublié trop de mon français, et je regrette que je ne continue plus à apprendre le langue…

  4. A bowl of coffee…
    …with jam baguette for dunking?
    That’s one of the most vivid memories from my France exchange of oh so many years ago 🙂

    1. bman11476@gmail.com

      Yep, a bowl of coffee with sliced up baguette and an assortment of jams. I must admit when I was living there during my exchange I wasn’t into coffee. This time around, Nicolas looked at me shocked as I went for my second and then third bowl of coffee 😛 I’ll definitely be making another couple of visits next year

  5. Brendan, your reflections of your return visit to your host family for your school exchange is amazing – so many things have changed but good friendships last for ever – thank you for sharing your thoughts and photographs with us – all the very best in your cycling career 🙂

    1. bman11476@gmail.com

      Thanks Diane. Yes it really is incredible to look back at decisions in life, and how they come back and play a significant role years later! I am already looking forward to visiting the Crampettes and Montpellier again next year 🙂

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