Montpellier, the city that has, and always will have, a piece of my heart. And after reading this, maybe she’ll take some of yours too.
If you’ve not heard of her, you should have… Montpellier is a French city, situated on the Mediterranean coast, just a few hours from the Spanish border. Sometimes referred to as “The Real South of France” due to its dissimilarity to the Cote d’Azur region, Montpellier is a traditional French city with a touch of Mediterranean class.
The 7th largest, and the fastest growing city in France, Montpellier is known for its young, student population. With over 50% of the city’s inhabitants under the age of 35, you can guarantee Montpellier is one of the youngest, hippest and trendiest places you will visit in France.
But What is There to Do on a Short Visit to Montpellier?
1. Get Lost in The Narrow Streets
I’ve lived here now for over a year and I still can’t figure my way around the city, but do you know what? I don’t think I want to.
Part of the charm of the beautiful Montpellier old town is getting lost down a narrow street full of tiny boutique shops, surrounded by beautiful architecture.
2. Go Sightseeing
Montpellier prides itself on its rich architectural history. So if sightseeing is your thing, then you’re in luck. Montpellier even has its own little tourist train that (somehow) manages to fit down the narrow, bendy roads and takes you around the beautiful sights – all with commentary in the language of your choice.
When it comes to sightseeing in Montpellier I recommend checking out:
- Porte & Promenade du Peyrou
- Saint Clément Aqueduct
- Cathédrale Saint-Pierre (Montpellier Cathedral)
- Esplanade de l’Europe
- City Hall
- Place de la Comédie
- Boulevard du Jeu de Paume
These are definitely the main sights not to miss on a short trip to Montpellier.
3. Experience One of the Many Events
There is always something going on in Montpellier.
In May, Montpellier hosts both the FISE (Festival International Sports Extreme) and the Battle of The Year breakdancing competition, both famous international competitions.
In the Summer months, Montpellier has its Estivales: every Friday, local food vendor’s, musicians and winemakers get together at the Esplanade Charles-de-Gaulle and here you can sample the Languedoc’s world-class wines and snack on tasty street food.
And in July, Montpellier’s annual Gay Pride takes place. You can expect it to be as fabulous as the city itself!
There are so many more events in Montpellier so it’s worth checking out the full agenda before you plan a visit.
4. Watch the Dancers, Musicians and Magicians at Place De La Comédie
Place De La Comédie is the city’s meeting point and is the central hub of Montpellier.
As well as the beautiful Comedie Opera House and the 3 Graces fountain, Comedie is where you’ll find the talented street artists. Every day you’ll experience something new, whether its Brazilian Samba dancing, Breakdancing, Magic Shows, Singers, Musicians – you’ll always find a free performance in Place de la Comedie.
5. Escape the City and Head into Nature
Lakes, beaches and green space are all just a short walk, tram or a cycle away from the city center.
I love heading to Lac du Cres to relax around a beautiful blue lake, Maison de la Nature for its wildlife or heading to the beaches at La Grande Motte, Palavas-Les-Flots or Carnon-Plage. If you’re heading to the beach, don’t forget to check out the pop-up bars on the beachfront – expensive, but great atmosphere.
If you do have a car, and want to travel a little further out, then you can spend an active day out hiking the Pic Saint-Loup mountain.
6. Check Out the Museums
France is known for its artwork and Montpellier is no different.
The most famous museum in Montpellier is the Musée Fabre which houses Europe’s richest art collection. But that’s not the only museum in Montpellier. There are over 10 different museums in the city center alone. So whether you’re interested in photography, history, medicine or paintings – there’s a museum for you to explore.
You can find a complete list of museums and art galleries in Montpellier here.
7. Take a Picnic to Promenade Du Peyrou
Slightly overshadowed by the popularity of Place de la Comedie, Promenade Du Peyrou is another of Montpellier’s main meeting spots.
It’s the perfect place for a picnic, thanks to the park benches, trees, grassy spaces and beautiful historical monuments.
This place has so much atmosphere. Here you’ll find groups of friends playing petanque, busking, runners, acrobats and such a wide range of people/groups. Oh, and it also has the most perfect sunset view across the outskirts of the city!
8. Buy at the Brocante
France is known for its many flea markets or brocantes and Montpellier certainly keeps to tradition with almost daily markets across the city.
My favorite flea market in Montpellier has to be at the Marché Du Lez. Situated on the banks of the rive du lez (lez river), Marché Du Lez is the hipster hangout of Montpellier. The flea market is open Tuesday – Sunday, 10-7 and hosts 20 local professionals showcasing their second-hand treasures.
9. Eat and Drink in Montpellier
It’s hard to recommend any one place because there are so many restaurants, bars and cafes in Montpellier to choose from. A few of my favorites are:
Le Parfum – Incredible Cocktails
If your trip has a good sized budget then you have to check out the cocktails at Le Parfum. The decor is incredible, the staff are friendly and the cocktails are to die for.
Mary Cherry – The Best Patisserie
Mary Cherry is my favorite patisserie in the city center. Vintage decor mixed with some quirky Harry Potter ornaments makes this petite café truly unique. Plus, Mary bakes the most incredible tasting cupcakes!
El Chivito – Tacos & More
Thanks to its proximity to Spain, many of Montpellier’s restaurants have a strong Latino influence. One of my favorites is El Chivito. If you like tacos, fajitas and all things Latin American, then you’ll love this restaurant.
Green Lab – For Vegetarian Food on a Budget
Green Lab is a great Falafel restaurant, perfect for vegetarians on a budget. Tasty, healthy and great portion sizes.
Playfood – Creative French Cuisine
This restaurant has a unique style. French cuisine but with a tapas and sushi influence. All the food is served in large shot glass style glasses and you can pick your own or let your waiter pick for you. It’s a brilliant concept and tasty food!
Comptoir de l’Arc – For the Best Happy Hour
I spend a lot of time here thanks to their tasty food and long happy hours. Drinks in Montpellier are expensive, but it’s worth looking around for happy hour offers.
10. Rest Your Head – Where to Stay in Montpellier
Finding somewhere to stay in Montpellier is easy.
If you have a large budget and are looking for some city center luxury, then I’d suggest the Pullman Hotel with their beautiful rooftop pool, or the Courtyard Marriott Hotel which is right next to the famously designed city hall.
For smaller budgets, there are plenty of 3* city center hotels in Montpellier, perfect for a weekend break of exploring. I particularly recommend the Hotel de la Comédie for its proximity to the city center’s action.
Or check out Hostelscombined.com for the best deals on almost all hotels in Montpellier.
Enjoy your short trip to Montpellier! I hope you will love the city as much as I do!
Map of What to See and Do on a Short Trip to Montpellier
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