Montpellier is one of the most attractive and lively cities in the South of France. Elegant and sophisticated, with a sunny and passionate soul dictated by its proximity to the Mediterranean Sea, Montpellier has dynamism to spare. Thanks to a shortage of industry, the city has focused on students and their virtuosity, on culture and urban redevelopment: world-renowned architects enrich and embellish the new, nascent neighbourhoods with stunning buildings and incredible details such as trams, the latest of which was designed by Christian Lacroix, a true work of art.
Around its teeming historical centre, the Écusson, you will find the city’s main attractions such as the cathedral and the covered market, along with many cosy bistros, restaurants and shopping streets. Thanks to its mild climate, which boasts an average of 300 days of sunshine per year, Montpellier enchants visitors who will also take the opportunity to see the nearby beaches and the Camargue bull runs.
Montpellier harmoniously combines two different souls: the elegant and refined, at times monumental, and the young and alternative, which stems from its status as a university city and its proximity to the influences of the deep south of France.
L’Écusson is Montpellier’s best-known and liveliest district, the nerve centre of the old town: it is the focal point for inhabitants who meet here, in its labyrinthine streets, to have a drink on the terrace, go shopping, enjoy its squares and cultural venues.
Built in medieval times and almost entirely pedestrianised, with its cobbled streets, elegant buildings, churches and shady squares such as Place Saint-Roch and Place de la Canourgue , it is the ideal place to stroll at any time of day. You can admire its most important attractions such as Place de la Comédie, one of the largest pedestrian areas in Europe and the Opéra Comédie, one of the most famous theatres in France, built in 1785 by a pupil of Charles Garnier, the man who built the famous Opéra Garnier in Paris.
We recommend that you lose yourself in the narrow alleyways of the centre, discovering craft shops, creperies, delicatessens and lots of eccentric and original shops.
The Place de la Comédie with its Fountain of the Three Graces, dating from 1776, is the heart of the old town. On the south-west side of the square is the Opéra Comédie theatre. From here, wide avenues radiate out towards the majority of the pedestrian area.
In the neighbourhood, nestled and hidden behind imposing facades, are superb palaces. Usually closed to the public, some of the courtyards of these 17th and 18th century residences can be admired on special guided tours.
With its two round towers, the Saint-Pierre cathedral possesses an architecture as colossal as it is original. Once the chapel of a 14th-century Benedictine monastery, this Gothic cathedral is in fact distinguished by its two gigantic round towers over 4 metres in diameter that make it resemble a military fortress.
Founded in 1364 by Pope Urban V, it is the only church in the district still standing after the devastation of the religious wars of the 16th century: at that time it was besieged and sacked several times by Protestants, which caused the collapse of a tower and the destruction of the entire building. It was not until the 17th century that reconstruction of the cathedral began, thanks to the wishes of King Louis XIII, and work was not completed until the 19th century.
The interior is exquisitely Gothic: it boasts a 28-metre high nave, luminous stained glass windows illustrating biblical scenes, majestic stone arches and a splendid 18th-century organ.
Lined by four rows of plane trees, the Esplanade Charles de Gaulle is a shady promenade, enlivened by taverns and ice-cream parlours, providing a refreshing and relaxing stop on the edge of the old town. Its lawns with flowerbeds are adorned with hexagonal basins, reconstructed in 1988 in the image of the original 18th century fountains.
With its ancient fountains, water features, people’s pavilion, orchestra box and horse-drawn carriages for sightseeing, the visitor feels the illusion of having gone back a hundred years, to an oasis of peace and tranquillity
Beyond the Esplanade Charles de Gaulle, you will feel as if you have suddenly changed cities. The architecture is completely overturned, with a sudden leap into modernity. This is all thanks to the architect Ricardo Bofill, creator of the Antigone district that stretches as far as the river Lez, a fine example of postmodern architecture.
You are in the futuristic part of Montpellier, characterised by avant-garde architectural buildings, large green spaces, beautiful fountains, fashionable shops, restaurants, bistros and shopping centres. This vast area covers 36 hectares of land designed to create a new neighbourhood close to the city centre and respond to a growing demand for housing. The focus is on people and the aim is to create public spaces for community use, through the spread of squares.
The Antigone neighbourhood is therefore structured around several squares, the first of which is Place du Nombre d’Or. It is surrounded by concrete buildings in a yellow ochre colour reminiscent of Montpellier stone and the style of the entire project is neoclassical: the inspiration is drawn from Ancient Greece, from which the district takes its name.
Passing under the Arc de Triomphe, one arrives on the Promenade du Peyrou, an immense park on two levels, dating from the 18th century, which offers a beautiful view of both the Cévennes and the sea, especially romantic at sunset.
In the centre stands an equestrian statue of the Sun King, dating from 1828, while at the western end of the terrace is a monumental water tower classified as a historical monument, overlooking a huge basin. It is fed by the 14-kilometre-long Saint-Clément aqueduct, built between 1753 and 1766, called les Arceaux because of its double level of arches.
The Fabre Museum is the main art museum in Montpellier and houses one of the largest collections of French paintings outside Paris. With more than 800 works, 900 engravings and 3,500 drawings, distributed in an exhibition area of 9,200 m², it holds Flemish, Dutch, Italian, Spanish and French collections, painters of the great European schools from the 16th to 18th century such as Zurbaran, Reynolds, Tenier, Veronese and French schools such as Greuze, Ingres, Delacroix, Courbet, Bazille, as well as contemporary ceramics, sculptures and paintings.
The museum is located east of the Ecusson and overlooks the Esplanade Charles de Gaulle. Admission is free on the first Sunday of each month.
The Faculty of Medicine of Montpellier hides an exceptional place: the Conservatory of Anatomy, which contains almost 5,600 anatomical pieces and waxes for teaching purposes.
Created at the end of the 18th century, it has astonishing collections: anatomical pieces, pathological anatomical dissections, casts and wax pieces (cancerous and venereal lesions, etc.) and various pieces of anthropology, embryology, malformations, pathologies, skeletons, surgical instruments, exhibited in showcases or in the 60 m long and 15 m high gallery.
A decidedly bizarre and unusual museum that will intrigue even the most sceptical.
Inaugurated at the end of 2018, this new, modern covered market is a true work of art. Ranging in height from 6 to 12 metres, combining traditional methods and modern materials, the circular building covers 1110 m2 with a capacity of 24 shops organised around a central ‘shopping centre’ lit by a skylight.
The new Halles Laissac are worth a visit if you are visiting Montpellier and if you love good food. You will find wine merchants, local producers or confectioners specialising in macaroons. You can taste meat and fish directly on site. This new establishment marks the rebirth of the Laissac district. It is open from Monday to Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Sundays from 8 a.m. to 1.30 p.m.
The Mare Nostrum Aquarium and the Planetarium Galilée have merged into Planet Ocean Montpellier: an underwater and space odyssey.
Consisting of more than 24 basins housing almost 400 different animal species, Planet Ocean Montpellier guarantees an immersive adventure. Each space is designed so that everyone, from the youngest to the oldest, can find something interesting. The exploration begins with the treasures of the Mediterranean, continues to the beaches of the Cape to see penguins, the unfathomable depths of the North Pacific, the underwater canyon of rays and sharks, the Polynesian lagoon of a thousand colours, the lush vegetation of the Amazon rainforest. This incredible tour, lasting more than two hours, culminates at Station Odyssée with an unforgettable experience: an encounter with a giant octopus.
And finally, Planet Ocean Montpellier opened a brand new space in 2018, called Univers. Every visitor will discover the magical world of the cosmos and the stars that make it up. Once again, everything is designed to satisfy curiosity and entertain young and old alike. Visitors will be able to try out various truly amazing devices: put themselves in the shoes of an astronaut, see themselves in a different way with infrared, take part in an expedition to the surface of the sun or view the earth from the dome of the ISS station. Finally, each little explorer will be able to enrich the cosmos by designing his own rocket or a space object bearing his name.
Les Halles Castellanes is the largest covered market in Montpellier. Located in the heart of the old town, just 250 metres from Place de la Comédie, it houses 1,500 square metres of shops and stalls selling every local delicacy: vegetables, meat, fish, cheeses, fruit, olives, bread, cold meats and wines.
A perfect place to mingle with the local population, get to know the best of the area’s gastronomy and taste the flavours of Occitania.
The Château de Flaugergues, owned by Count and Countess Henri de Colbert, was enlarged and embellished between 1696 and 1730 by Etienne de Flaugergues, councillor to the Court of the Counts of Montpellier.
At the time, Montpellier was one of the most important cities in France in the field of medicine and the wealthy nobles of the Ancien Regime built a series of sumptuous and luxurious châteaux on the outskirts of the city as summer residences. The Château de Flaugergues was one of these ‘follies‘ and is considered by many to be the most original in the city with particularly elegant and spectacular gardens.
Inside, it houses a staircase of rare elegance, uniquely designed, with a hanging key and no pillar on three levels, occupying a third of the castle, important 18th-century furniture, five Flemish tapestries from the 17th century, a collection of high-quality porcelain and faience, and various documents relating to the history of Montpellier archived since the 18th century.
Wild and secluded, the beaches near Montpellier are only 10 km from the city centre and on the way, winding through picturesque lagoons, marshes, canals and nature reserves, you can easily admire the spectacle of pink flamingos.
In addition to the stretches of sand in the famous resorts of Plage Carnon13 and Plage Palavas les flots14, the best beaches are Plage du Pilou15 away from the urban crowds, along a lagoon, with its large wild expanses inhabited by numerous species of birds and Plage de l'Espiguette16, surrounded by a marvellous panorama of dunes stretching for more than 10 km, lapped by solitary transparent waters.
In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article
Ideally located, the city of Montpellier enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate in winter and a warm climate in summer. Officially, Montpellier is divided into seven districts: Montpellier Centre, Croix-d’Argent, Les Cévennes, Mosson, Hôpitaux-Facultés, Port-Marianne and Près d’Arènes and each has its own atmosphere, history and culture to tell.
The Ecusson boasts the largest pedestrian centre in Europe and is the best area to stay in Montpellier for visiting the city on foot, without a car or public transport. In fact, you’ll have everything on your doorstep: museums, art galleries, bars and restaurants are on the Saint-Roch side, while the famous rue de l’Aiguillerie is frequented by young people for its alternative bistros, while the Ancien-Courrier area is full of vintage boutiques, chic and art deco shops and jewellers. It is easy to get lost in this large maze of medieval streets, but it is the best area to stay in Montpellier.
The area between Place de la Comédie, the Esplanade Charles-de-Gaulle and the Corum is definitely the busiest. On the one hand, its proximity to the station makes it perfect for those travelling by train, on the other hand, here you will find everything you need to have fun in the city: strolling, shopping, restaurants, bars with live music and sunny terraces. The Esplanade also hosts city festivals, book fairs and the Christmas market: a place to meet and mingle with the city’s inhabitants.
The Beaux-Arts is a small village within the city: there you will find markets and small squares frequented by young hippy chic and eco-lovers. Here you can breathe in the culture and radical atmosphere, with festivals and events of all kinds. Two minutes from the centre, this is the alternative area of Montpellier, where you can find affordable accommodation and experience a popular atmosphere of street concerts, markets and art exhibitions.
Les Arceaux, named after the arches of the Roman Aqueduct, is also a good area to stay in Montpellier. Here the old is mixed with the new and the neighbourhood inhabitants promote ecology, the consumption of organic products, flea markets and spice shops while sipping tea or beer on the terrace. The proximity to the Ecusson makes Les Arceaux a good area to stay, away from the tourist hustle and bustle of the centre.
Montpellier is located 11 km from the Mediterranean, in the heart of Languedoc-Roussillon and very close to Provence.
What's the weather at Montpellier? Below are the temperatures and the weather forecast at Montpellier for the next few days.
Montpellier is located inland in southern France, 10 km from the Mediterranean coast, very close to the Camargue.