I'm planning on moving to France for a year or so, continuing my work in the US from a laptop, and want recommendations on where to live! I've been through much of France, but haven't spent much time in the south. I'm leaning towards Montpellier though it is kind of a random choice since i've never been there (going in 3 weeks to check it out and will stop by any other suggested cities). I'm looking for a place with friendly, young people, sunshine, mountains/sea/wine region a plus, access to good transportation, cute town, not overflowing with tourists, and i need access to high-speed internet so i assume it has to be a decent-sized town. oh, and a university town would be nice too for taking classes. any help would be great!!!
I think you have already found the ideal location !
The only other suitable S France (ie Med) locations are further East : Marseilles, Cannes & Nice.
You can mail me for more specific info.
Why not Aix-en-provence? I studied a year there and it's just amazing.
It's 30km approx. away from Marseille, student's city, incredible city centre, really close to the Mont Sant Victoire, sunny... it just lovely.
It has about 200.000 inhabitants, so it's smaller than montpellier.
Montpellier it is also a really good choice.
You're right... I should probably check out Aix too. I've heard a lot of good things about that place and don't know why I haven't given it much consideration. Is the whole town basically students or is there a good mix with "every day french life"? I was there once when school was not in session and it seemed pretty empty (though that was almost 10 years ago and my recollection isn't too clear).
Do you know if you need to have a student visa to take a few classes or would I be ok with a tourist visa (if I'm not looking to get credit for the classes)?
i could reccommend Aix-en Provence.
Toulouse is supposed to be nice too.
Toulouse is a great place to be a student, makes a good base for the Pyrenees, and is a big city so has everything you could need, but isn'
t the most stunning of places. It's not ugly by any means, but it's a definitely a working/industrial city. If you are going to head more towards the Pyrenees, i'd suggest Carcassone or possibly Narbonne instead. Beziers i don't really know so can't comment. Perpignan i personally really like, but its not always rated so highly.
Montpellier is an excellent good choice, and i love it there. It's also strangely ignored on the tourist trail. Nearby Sete is a smaller/quieter alternative, but maybe worth a look.
Agree Aix would be a good choice if you go more towards the Cote d'Zur end, although be aware that for public transport access it's not quite as good. The TGV station is really only accessible by car, whilst the bnormal station more or less means you have to go from there via Marseille to get anyhere. So if you are living in the city centre and relying on public transport links, whilst not impossible by any means, isn't quite as straight forward/easy as from most other larger towns etc.
I'd also chuck in Arles as a smaller, yet pleasant alternative. Avignon whilst great is probably too touristy for you. Nimes i don't really know. After that your looking at the Cote d'Azur and stretch between Marseilles and Nice/Ventimiglia at the border.
I agree with the previous posts: Your choice for Montpellier is very good since it's a big city, with University, yet not too big. My mum was in Aix-en-Provence which is apparently a small but very interesting town. For those 2 cities, you also have the advantage of the mediterraneen climate which doesn't hurt...
Toulouse is bigger, busier, historic city too, with university and all... The weather is not the same, but you won't freeze either!! You'd like it too... Worth a visit anyway.
It depends on what you are looking for.