MONTPELLIER — After three weeks in France, I finally feel comfortable. I am no longer startled by the shower without a spigot, the dog poop on the sidewalk and the constant smell of smoke.

The program allows me to stay with a host family. The family I am with is very kind and generous. I eat dinner with them each night, and though we once shared breakfast together as well, the family now has school to attend, which makes the mornings a mad dash out the door. I am usually running out the door with them, for classes at the local language school begin bright and early at 9 a.m.

If weeks are full of verb conjugations and vocabulary lists, the weekends are for sightseeing. The language school offers inexpensive excursions to surrounding villages and towns, and our guide Jean-Paul is quite the animator. He passionately recounts the history of Lanquadoc and loves to play medieval songs on his fife.

The fifer recently took us to Saint-Guilhem-le-Desert, voted the most beautiful village in France. Nestled between rolling hills, the village curves along a small stream. The jewel of the village is the medieval church. Personally, I found the watch tower upon the mountain more fascinating than the church, which is at least 100 years younger.

Saint-Guilhem-le-Desert certainly dazzles the tourists, but the residents pride themselves on their privacy and continuity. When walking around the village, you can spot a particular flower on almost every door, called la Cardabelle. If you ever have the chance to visit this precious village, do not hesitate to go.






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