IMG_3491When Montpellier was founded in 985, cities were for survival. Most people went out to work in surrounding fields, and didn’t have time or energy or space for greenery. IMG_3489We have watched Montpellier evolve over the years, ridding the narrow streets of its historic center of cars and introducing a profusion of vines that completely change the character of a place that otherwise is stone on stone.IMG_3465In 2017, Montpellier launched a “vegetation permit” to encourage “microflowering” by geting individuals to plant greenery around them–in small communal gardens, containers, wherever roots could find dirt. The city also is planting 1,000 trees a year.

It doesn’t take much. And is that the door to Tom and Jerry’s place?

The result is lovely. I can think of all the practical arguments against such climbing vines–they destroy the mortar joints of walls, they are full of creepy crawlies like spiders, they hold humidity, which also is bad for the walls, they tangle with electric wires. IMG_3495And yet, I can’t help but be charmed. The streets become magical passages suitable for fairies, especially with the garlands that were strung.IMG_3497IMG_3492IMG_3490

Something about this resembles Cousin It from the Addams Family.

Some of the garlands were made with bits of lace, very romantic.IMG_3488IMG_3486Some were colorful, very dramatic.IMG_3500IMG_3510IMG_3485You can’t just look up, because sometimes the surprises are underfoot. And you might not even be aware you’re walking on a rainbow if you aren’t going up.IMG_3501Everywhere that the narrow streets open even a little, to a space not worthy of being called a square, there are trees squeezing up between the cream-colored stone buildings, and café tables spreading beneath them.IMG_3517IMG_3504Behind the façades, too, are hidden gardens. Real gems. IMG_3473IMG_3471Others, who have neither garden nor sidewalk, make do with balconies.

Do you see the balcony with what seems to be a bamboo forest?

I think it’s a brilliant idea. The climate around here is such that these vines stay green year-round. The city says one benefit is they help clean the air.

What’s not to love about that?IMG_3493




26 thoughts on “Urban Jungle

    1. All those students make Montpellier very hip and energetic.
      I love that people are encouraged to plant things. More cities should follow suit. Certainly you wouldn’t expect anything to grow from such tiny cracks in the pavement.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. A lovely place to visit and seeing the contrast of the vines against the buildings. Also seeing the happy rainbow colors of the steps and the trees providing shade when sitting on a terrace. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Another interesting post and pictures. I call it ‘romancing the stone”. There is something special about the combination of stone and greenery, symbiotic of lifeless and lively. Good governing, growing greenery is good for everyone. Having it green all year long is a bonus. Those hidden gardens, so gorgeous…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. My husband and I are looking for somewhere to spend the months of February/March. Do you have any idea what the temperatures are like those months? We both speak French, so language isn’t a barrier. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. February is definitely winter but mild. Either it’s sunny and up to 10/12C (low 50s F) but, without cloud cover, down to near freezing at night (it rarely gets below freezing). Or it’s raining and gray, with highs around 6-7C (low-mid-40s F) and lows around 3-4C (high 30s/low 40s F). March is similar but a few degrees warmer.


  4. Beautiful! I love the vines and plants – but the fabric garlands are so awesome – when I make one for the mantle for Christmas it’s quaint and all, but it mostly looks like an incomplete rag rug. Those in your pictures are wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve seen so much of that in France and I love it. I loved Rome, too, but I remember thinking that it could have used a lot more greenery like you just described and showed. It was almost completely devoid of it, if I remember correctly.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. YES< MY ITALIAN would be ANTI VINES as they ruin the walls!!!!!!BUT EVER SO BEAUTIFUL and I love that the city is doing this!Loved the vine that was protected from an old roof tile looks to be!TREES ARE definitely our answer to HELPING!ARE you following GRETAthunberg on INSTAGRAM?WHAT A KID!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The third picture of the fabric hangings makes me think of prayer flags.
    I’ve seen in pictures and some in person where a number of small villages here and there in France are encouraging residents to plant climbing roses by their doors. The result is door after door of sweet flowers, plus vines sort of.

    Liked by 1 person

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