A few weeks ago, I was in the South of France exploring some cities with a connection to the Canal du Midi. I stayed in Montpellier, a town situated between Toulouse and Marseille. Sunny Montpellier is more than a quick getaway. It’s attracting more visitors due to its beautiful blue sky, sunshine, Mediterranean vibes and southern architecture. Surprisingly, there is a wide variety of street art in Montpellier since it’s a major scene for urban art.
The day after my arrival in the city, I decided to explore it properly having spent most the previous afternoon watching the final of the World Cup and enjoying the celebrations. After a quick stop by the Tourism Information Centre, I ventured into the old town centre and discovered the city’s most iconic building and facades.
Street art in the heart of Montpellier
When wandering along the streets of Montpellier, you have to keep your eyes open. Street arts is usually hidden in unexpected locations.
As well as graffiti and stencils decorating Montpellier’s walls, objects have also been used to make a statement. In the above photo, you can see the rear of a car built-in on the wall of Rockstore; very cool. As I walked further into the city centre, I discovered several “half-bikes” stuck to the medieval walls of the city. These murals made walking into the narrow streets even more exciting. These arts by Montpellier born Monsieur BMX. I find them to be very fitting with the architecture of the city as if they were part of the décor. I enjoyed seeing this project as it shows the importance of bikes in this “bike” friendly city.
During my self-guided walking tour, I encountered other street art pieces by well-known artists. Urban art there was in Montpellier, something that I wasn’t expecting, but I liked it a lot.
I have to say that I am impressed by stencil work. I love the detailed work of these two portraits below. They are by French visual artist Guaté Mao which work can be found all around the world.
Further on the in the streets of Ecusson, I came across some painted bollards, all with a different design. I’m not sure who the artist is, but I love the variety of styles. These painted bollards show off the creativity of the artists and that the city of Montpellier embrace street art so much that they are incorporating them with their urban equipment.
After wandering through the charming old town centre, I headed over to the place that all the urban artists call home.
Discovering the quay of Verdanson
When you venture into the old town centre, you then find all the iconic buildings and attractions. However, going a little off the beaten tracks will take you to the quays of Verdansonn. Street art is spread all around the city, but this place is where you will find all the colourful graffiti.
Since I was told that Quay of Verdanson was located behind “Corum”, I set off from there. After walking for a while, I couldn’t find the entrance. I wondered how people were able to access the site but thought since it was managed by the Tourist Centre you could only access via them. It was only the following day that we realised that the entrance to the graffiti canal was by “Carrefour Rimbaud” near the tram stop “Les Aubes”. Quay of Verdanson is a small stream that crosses the city. Its unused part is the favourite spot of graffiti artists. I don’t know the full details, but I believe the city gave the artists free reign to express their creativity there.
It’s a shame that I was unable to properly visit the site as I am sure there are amazing frescoes to be seen. I was nonetheless glad to see a little bit by looking over.
Join a tour or go solo
If you love urban art, you will surely want to go around the city to find the murals and urban arts. You might even see them by chance. If you’re going to discover the extent of the arts, you might want to join a walking tour organised by Montpellier Mediterranean Tourist Office. They arrange two walking tours and one on a bike. It’s the perfect way to learn more from the experts and discover all that is to know and hidden in the streets of Montpellier. More details can be found here: Montpellier Tourist Centre.
Want to read more about street art or explore the things to do in Montpellier? Check out these articles.