If you’re looking for a new holiday destination this year, then I want you to visit Montpellier, my new home town.
Situated in “the other south of France”,
Montpellier is the medieval, Mediterranean, French city, you might not yet have heard of.
Well-away from the shouty glitz and glamour of the French Riviera, Montpellier is the 7th largest city in France (3rd largest on the south coast) and it’s currently the fastest growing city in France – and here’s why you should visit Montpellier!
Weather in Montpellier
Normally spend summer in northern France?
Then you’ve probably had a few dealings with the French rain. You won’t find that in Montpellier…well…maybe sometimes, but it’s still pretty rare.
However, what you will find, is the sunshine.
Montpellier is the 4th sunniest place in France.
When you visit Montpellier you’ll find 300 days/2618 hours of sunshine a year! That means you can enjoy the warm temperatures from early spring, right through till the end of October. Even in January I’ve left the house coat-less in shorts.
People – Montpelliérains
With the weather being so perfect, it’s no surprise that people in Montpellier are happier. Voted the 2nd happiest city in France, falling just short of Bordeaux, you’re sure to spend your visit to Montpellier walking this warm and friendly city with a smile.
There’s something different about the people here. You know? There’s a much more open, unprejudiced vibe and everyone is welcomed. In fact, In 2013, Montpellier was the first of all French cities to celebrate same sex weddings and is known for being France’s 2nd gay city (after Paris).
So if you want a diverse, open minded city, then visit Montpellier.
And, as the largest growing city in France, the average age of city centre residents is between 18-34 with 36.58% of the city fitting in this age bracket.
However, just because the city’s young, doesn’t mean you’ll miss out on culture.
Montpellier is young, fun and friendly. And you’ll be visiting one of the most cosmopolitan cities in France.
2.5 hours away from Barcelona, 3.5 hours from Paris, 3.5 hours from Italy – all without getting on a plane. You can travel anywhere easily from Montpellier. Not only are you near a motorway, but it’s got 2 big train stations, coach stations an airport and a city tram system too.
With regular flights to and from London and seasonal flights to the north of England, from Ryanair and easyjet, you have no excuse not to plan your visit to Montpellier.
I have used the airport to travel back to my parents, the coaches to travel to Benicassim festival, the trains for Languedoc daytrips, and I used the city center trams almost daily
Exploring the city is simple. All you need is a pair of feet for walking or a ticket for the trams. The Montpellier 4 line tram system is a work of art. Designed by French fashion designer Christian Lacroix these extravagantly decorated trams opened in 2000 and changed the way the city moves.
Don’t feel like getting a tram?
Montpellier also has VeloMagg bike stations where you can hire one of the 750 bikes and drop it off at any of the 59 VeloMagg stations around Montpellier.
Location – Why Visit Montpellier?
On the subject of transport links, let’s talk location. Montpellier is on the Mediterranean coast of France. The city has the perfect blend of French and Mediterranean living.
Here you can experience the bustle city life, but still enjoy the relaxing, green, French countryside.
If you like being amongst nature, there are many national parks nearby and the magnifique Herault gorges are a must see. Also, if you like wine the Languedoc region is known for beiung the largest wine producer in France
On a visit to Montpellier you’ll find everything you could ever want from your holiday, all within easy distance. If you start from Place de la Comedie in the city centre it’s just:
- 25 minutes to the beach,
- 75 minutes away from snowy ski resorts,
- 37 minutes from Pic St Loup hiking mountain,
- 19 minutes from the Canal Du Rhone a Sete, which joins to the famous Canal Du Midi,
- 55 minutes from the Herault gorges
But why travel? There’s so much to visit in Montpellier’s vast city centre.
What to see and do in Montpellier city center:
- Walk the medieval old town streets or take the tourist train around them
- Cafe and a book in a Place de la comedie (the city centre) cafe
- Check out one of the many museums.
- Visit the Zoo, the aquarium or the planetarium
- Stroll the botanical gardens
- Get lost in an escape room
- Bounce around the trampoline park
- Play paintball, laser quest or climb around the mad monkey climbing walls
- Attend the International Festival of Extreme Sports (the largest freestyle sports event in Europe)
- Take a wander around the Lac du Cres or walk the Riv du Lez
- Or, if you’re just looking to relax then check out one of Montpellier’s soothing spas
There is so much for you to see and do in and around Montpellier, you’ll need a few weeks to see it all!
If you’re looking for a city with a rich history Montpellier has it, although, compared to some other French cities, Montpellier’s history is relatively young. And unlike other French cities, you may be used to, Montpellier is one of the few without any Roman heritage.
However, you’ll see, this medieval city is still fully alive with culture, art, architecture and history. Montpellier prides itself on its rich history and it’s evident in the city centres, narrow winding medieval streets and buildings.
Like the capital city, Montpellier has its own Arc du triomphe. It was built as a dedication to Louis XIV in 1692, which actually makes it 140 years older than the famous Parisian arc. As well as the Arc Du Triomphe, Montpellier has many other grand, historical landmarks. Thanks to Montpellier becoming the royal city of Languedoc, you’ll find churches like Carré St. Anne and the Promenade du Peyrou were built to be awe-inspiring and distinctive architectural projects. If you want a better taste of Montpellier history, the tourist office holds plenty of city tours, and there’s even a little tourist train which you can ride around the narrow windy streets.
Talking about history, you cannot forget about Montpellier’s wine history.Since the 19th century, the development of wine in Montpellier has helped fuel the cities economy. Thanks to the city’s strategic placement on the Mediterranean coast, their wine industry has had continuous prosperity. With a plethora of vineyards in the area, there are plenty of wine bars and wine tours available for you to book from the tourist office. One of the most popular vineyards to visit in Montpellier is the Chateau du Flaugergues. The chateau is owned, and lived in, by Henri and Brigitte de Colbert and their children. Tours available for the chateau, vineyards and gardens. And of course, the wine here is amazing!
When you’re visiting Montpellier, don’t forget to head to the Musee Fabre. The museum is situated near to the Place de la Comedie and is the perfect hot spot for art lovers visiting the city. If you want to visit the richest art collection in Europe, then here’s where it is. According to tripadvisor, there are 18 museums in Montpellier for you to visit but the main ones to visit in the city center are:
Carre St Anne – This beautiful church houses contemporary art exhibitions and site-specific installations from famous artists all over France.
Le Pavillon Populaire – A free of charge photographic museum. Exhibitions take place on average 3 times a year and guided tours are 4 times weekly.
Campsites and Hotels
When you’re visiting Montpellier you want to find the best accommodation for you and your needs. Whether you’re a large family, a couple, a group of friends or going solo – I’ve picked out my favourite places to stay in Montpellier for you.
Helping holiday makers find their perfect holiday accommodation in Montpellier is something I really enjoy doing. Maybe it’s due to my previous life in hospitality work, but I like to think I’m a pro at finding the best places to stay in Montpellier. So, whether you’re looking for family camping fun near the beach, a bnb or apartment in the centre or a luxury spa hotel, Montpellier has them all. Here are some of our favourites:
Open from April to September, this family friendly campsite has direct access to the Montpellier beach Palavas les flots. This 4 star campsite has everything you need to ensure you and your family are kept entertained and busy. With a number of sports activities and a swimming pool with flumes/slides – it’ll be easy to get the tired kids to bed and enjoy that glass of wine. For the adults, there’s also a bar, restaurant, and spa facilities available on site.
Located right next to the amazing architectural masterpiece that is Montpellier’s City Hall, the Marriott Hotel is a 123 roomed 4* eco friendly hotel. Within easy walking distance to the city centre and access to tram stops, the river setting is perfect for couples looking for a luxury break away.
Just outside the city centre in the suburb of Juvignac is this amazing 99 bedroomed spa and golf resort. With vast grounds, an indoor and an outdoor pool, The Vichy Spa is the best place to go if you’re willing to spend a little more money and get way more returns!
The travel choice award winners of 2018 Les 4 Etoiles is a charming 4 bedroomed b’n’b in the heart of Montpellier. With beautifully contemporary interior design and vintage charm, this b’n’b is perfect for couples or families looking to explore the beautiful Montpellier’s historical center.
In the heart of the historic centre you’ll find many apartments specifically bought as air b’n’bs. From small and cozy to grand an extravagant, we’ve stayed in a few. Our favourite has to be this apartment, situated down a small side street in the centre. A stone’s throw away from trams, bars, restaurants and shops. This beautifully elegant apartment is great. PLUS it has a jacuzzi bath to soak in after a hard day exploring.
You can always judge a city on it’s restaurants. Take a visit to Montpellier and rediscover your taste buds. Catering every single taste, cuisine and flavour possible, you will not be short of restaurants. Telling you I’ve tried them all would be a lie, because frankly it would be impossible. So I’ve listed some of my particular favourites below:
And lastly, the most important reason to visit Montpellier? I live here! If your thinking of visiting, let me know. I can recommend places to stay, places to eat and drink, things to see and do and I might even cook you dinner!