Last Updated on 17/02/2021 by secretmoona
I recently visited the southwest of France on a week-long trip stopping in Toulouse, Beziers and Montpellier. Montpellier was an interesting city in between history and modernity. Its old town with its medieval streets, shaded restaurant terraces makes Montpellier the ultimate southern city. However, while exploring you will notice sprouts of modernity such as the redesigned marvel of architecture that is the Antigone district along with the trams designed by Christian Lacroix. Like many southern cities, Montpellier has it all: sun all year round, the scent of the sea, scenic landscapes and great architecture. The city is friendly and youthful. It should definitely be in any Francophile’s bucket list.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Montpellier:
Place de la Comédie
Every city has a place where people like to meet up. In Montpellier, it’s Place de la Comédie. The square is easily accessible from the main train station, Montpellier Saint Roch and the city’s transport link; the tram station is located right on the square. Being so central, it is the perfect place to start your discovery of the city. Actually, the Montpellier Tourism Centre is located between Place de la Comédie and Esplanade Charles de Gaulle. The square is surrounded by imposing buildings including the Opera house, terraced cafes, shops and a cinema. The imposing fountain of the Three Graces in the middle gives the place a ancient feel.
We arrived on the night of the World Cup final. After the French team won, the place which was seemingly empty filled within minutes with people chanting “On est les champions!” I have to say that the atmosphere was crazy but magical.
Address: Place de la Comédie, Montpellier, France
Wander in the Old town
I love exploring cities with history. If the city has an old town centre, you will likely find me wandering around exploring the area. The streets of Écusson have a “je ne sais quoi” that makes them unique and remarkable. You can spend hours strolling the picturesque cobbled streets. Some of the most iconic streets are Rue de l’Ancien Courier and Rue des Trésoriers de la Bourse. When you need a break from exploring, take a seat in one of the terraces by Place Saint Roch and relax by admiring the Saint Roch church. It’s the most charming place in Montpellier and one of the reasons I rank Montpellier as on the of the most beautiful cities in the South of France!
Arc de Triomphe & Promenade du Peyrou
Paris is not the only French city with the Arc de Triomphe. Porte de Peyron is a smaller version of the Parisian arc but it was in fact modelled on the Port de Saint-Denis gate. The gate is located at the end of Rue Foch and opens up to the Promenade du Peyrou. The promenade is a garden lined with trees. at the end of the rectangular shaped garden sits the 18th century Chateau d’Eau, a water tower with a cute pond. Behind the tower is the Saint-Clement Aqueduct which was modelled on the Pont du Gard.
The Promenade is really a beautiful garden with views all over the city. It’s a nice place where you can go and appreciate the sight, take a moment to relax, cool down from the braizing sun.
Address: Promenade du Peyrou, Place Royale du Peyrou, Montpellier
Jardin des Plantes
Following from the Promenade du Peyrou, you can head to the Jardin des Plantes, the city’s botanical garden.
The Jardin des Plantes is France’s oldest botanical garden located in the centre of Montpellier. Created in 1593, this historic garden was a medicinal garden and is now classified as a Historical Monument and Protected Site. It’s a tranquil garden filled with an impressive amount of greenery. You can see over 2500 plants. It’s worth a visit to admire the greenhouse filled with succulent plants (although it was closed when we visited) and the lotus pond.
We met a very helpful gardener who took the time to give us a tour of his section and explained the different plants. There are several places where you can sit on a bench to admire the plants or read a book. We enjoyed our visit to this calm garden, so would highly recommend it.
Address: 1 Boulevard Henri IV, Montpellier
Visit the Antigone District
For a change of architecture head to Antigone. We discovered this area by chance. We were actually on our way to the banks of the river Lez. The entire neighbourhood has been designed by the Catalan architect Ricardo Bofill in a post-modern style. When you arrive at Antigone you feel like you are in a massive Greek metropolis, since the district was inspired by ancient Greece. Even its name and some of the building names have been taken from Greek mythology. Plazas, esplanades, offices, the Olympic swimming pool restaurants and shops: all are made to impress. If you continue following the Lez, you will reach the modern Town Hall designed by Jean Nouvel.
Take a ride to the …beach
Getting around Montpellier is super easy. With so many pedestrians and cyclable roads, it is great to just rent a bike and explore the city. With four tram lines, here’s another way to explore the city centre and further for a cheap price. The day tickets only cost €4.50. You can even take the tram to the beach. Herault offers some of the best beaches. Getting your feet in the sand couldn’t be easier: just take tram 3 to the last stops “Perols”. From there you can cycle to the beach on a rental bike or take a leisure stroll.
For street art lovers
Although a historic city, Montpellier is also a city with a very young population due to its universities. So while wandering the town, especially the historical part, you will find lots of street arts from the graffiti canal in Verdanson district, to the murals, half-bikes and cars popping out from building facades, explore how the city embraces this form of art. If you want to learn more about street art, why not join one of the Tourism Centre’s walking tours?
Enjoy some shopping
Whether you are a shopping fanatic or not, it’s also a good idea to explore some of the shops in a new city. The streets of Ecusson in the old town have a variety of independent shops and big names too. In Ecusson, you can find interesting bookstores, shops selling regional items like La Maison Roux‘s macarons and some sweets from La Cure Gourmande.
We stumbled upon a very nice boutique, in between an art gallery and a boutique. La NEF is a beautiful art boutique located in the restored Chapel of the Visitation in the heart of the historic centre. The boutique sells a wide range of unique pieces created by French craftsmen and artisans. The items they were exhibiting were in the theme of the “Zoo”. Jewellery designers, ceramists, sculptors worked together to showcase exceptional items. I love how they managed to mix the heritage of the location with the art they are selling. It’s definitely worth a visit.
For mainstream and French brands, head to Polygone shopping centre and shop in the Galeries Lafayette.
La NEF, Atelier d’artisans d’art, 41 rue de l’Université, Montpellier Polygone, 1 Rue des Pertuisanes, Montpellier
Where to stay in Montpellier
We stayed in the Crowne Plaza Corum, an IHG Hotels. The hotel is ideally located close to Place de la Comedie, Esplanade Charles de Gaulle, the Corum conference centre and tram station. The hotel is very modern with a strong Asian influence. Chinese and Japanese dolls, vases and other artefacts decorate the lobby and the entire hotel. Our deluxe room was nicely decorated with the Asian theme too. The bed was comfortable and despite our room being close to the lift, we did not hear the ins-and-outs of the other guests. Maybe it was due to the aromatherapy pillow spray! Breakfast was amazing with a selection of cold and hot buffet food. With a swimming pool, this hotel was a perfect choice for our stay in Montpellier. Plus, with the professional and nice staff tending to all our needs, I will surely come back.
Address: Crown Plaza Corum, 190 Rue D’argencourt, Montpellier
Preparing your trip
To help you prepare your trip and find even more handy tips on where to stay, the available attractions, guided tours and the transport links within Montpellier and across Occitanie, visit Montpellier Tourist Information Centre either online or onsite.
Address: 10 Place de la Comedie, Montpellier
Getting to Montpellier
There are many options to get to Montpellier: you can fly directly into Montpellier from many European cities, or fly to Paris and take a train. If you are flying from any other European cities, Air France is your best bet. From London, EasyJet flies to Montpellier from Luton and Gatwick. Or you can go all the way by train with Eurostar; in Paris, you have to transfer from the Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon to Montpellier St-Roch station. A shuttle bus runs every hour to Place de l’Europe, taking only 15 minutes for a one-way fare of only €1.50, or €2.40 if you want a connecting tram ride. A taxi will cost about €30 to the historic centre.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this article about Montpellier! Have you ever been to Montpellier? Or the southern part of French? What is your favourite thing to do in this part of France?
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36 thoughts on “The Top 8 Things to do in Montpellier, France”
Amazing photos! And Montpellier is actually on my France bucket list, so for sure I’ll be visiting sooner or later! I also love how organized and well-detailed your article is, I’m def going to refer back to this post!
Thank you Jin. Montpellier is a lovely place to visit all year round. I’m sure you will love your trip there!
Montpellier is one of the few cities I haven’t visited yet in France. This post made me realise it’s time to change that. And thank you for sharing the tip on la NEF, I don’t particularly like shopping, but this one goes on the list!
Thanks, I am not one to do shopping either but La Nef was too nice and inviting! Montpellier is really a lovely place so hope you can visit on day.
Wow I had no idea there was so much to do in this city! It seems very underrated but extremely beautiful. I’d love to walk through those quaint alleys of the older parts of the city and still be able to take in the modern buildings all in one place.
It looks like such a gorgeous place and surprisingly accessible. The city’s botanic garden looks lovely!
I love wandering through tiny little European towns, especially French towns. Montpellier seems like another one to add to my list!
Yes, you should definitely add Montpellier. Although it’s the 7th biggest city in France, the main attractions can be done within 2 days.
Woah I had no idea! I’ll definitely add it to my list for the next time I head over to Europe!
Very well informed post. We’ve been to France twice, but only to Paris. Nice to add another place to our list, if we ever visit again.
Thank you for your comment. I hope you get to visit France again.
This place is seriously charming! Love the photos!
You have such great posts about hidden gems in France. I just love the the mixture of modern, old and quirky in Montpeliier. Looks incredible!
I’ve been in the region several times but always drive through Montpellier, must stop and enjoy it next time. Thanks for sharing the tips and photos!
Montpellier looks lovely, I’ve never even considered there before but it looks really nice. Love the street art especially your photo of the bicycle in the wall. Will add this to my France bucket list!
love your allyway photos! Always good to arrive at a city when theres a big event on- gives it an energy! 😀
Oh boy! I clearly need to go back to Montpellier! We passed through a few years back and missed most of the things you mention here. Thanks for the inspiration!
Montpellier looks great. I’d never heard of it but your photos make it very appealing! I’d love to check out the Jardin des Plantes in person. 🙂
The French really know what makes a great town. Shopping, old towns, jardins, and pretty art! I did some graffiti tours in Colombia recently and have so much more appreciation for it now. Would love to check it out in Montpelier!
I live medival towns they have such good vibes. Montepellier looks like an amazing place to be with lot of rustic charm. Loved all the pictures.
I have yet to visit the South of France at all but this spot seems lovely – such a different appearence than the place I’ve visited up north.
What a great article. I visited Montpellier a couple of years ago, but didn’t stay long enough to explore the city.. Your guide is quite comprehensive and filled with amazing photography. L’Arbre Blanc is quite striking. Great shot! Reading this has definitively given me the envie to return soon.
I keep hearing so many great things about Montpellier, but I still haven’t made it there despite only living a few hours away! I’m bookmarking this for later – because you’ve reminded me of why I have to visit!
Oh I’m glad! You should definitely stop by if you get the chance.
Montpellier est surprenant! I was able to spend two weeks in July as a part of a study abroad program studying the language. Having the opportunity to experience France outside of the hustle and bustle of touristy (but still amazing) Paris was life changing. The food was amazing. Everything, from going to the same bakery everyday that was two blocks from our language school (and the clerks recognizing us as we came) to going to this small restaurant that had the most amazing brochettes (that made me love duck breast), was unlike anything I had ever experienced. I did my fair share of shopping and Montpellier’s location makes it perfect for day trips to Arles, the Camarque, Les Santes Maries de la mer and so many more places! Your post brought back a great deal of amazing memories. If anyone reading it is considering Montpeller, I have one word for them. GO!
Merci beaucoup Wes pour ce commentaire! Your description of Montpellier is spot on: a laid back city yet amazing with lots of things to do. I’m glad my post brought back good memories and thanks for the trip suggestions;)
What a lovely place. I need to explore more of France, and definitely need to see Montpellier more! Your photos are wonderful too!
Thanks Amy! Montpellier is a great destination!
This looks like such a beautiful city to walk around, and I would definitely be heading to the old town first!
You will love Montpellier! Such an easy city to explore!
I always thought Montpellier is a very under rated part of France, one that I’m looking forward to returning to (post lockdown)
I totally agree with you. Montpellier is underrated!