Montpellier is the capital city of the Languedoc-Rousillon region in the southwest of France. It is a small yet vibrant city largely due to its young population of university students, thriving gay community and proximity to the beach which comes alive during the warmer months.
Established as a town during the 10th to 12th centuries, Montpellier consists of an eclectic blend of old style architecture alongside the modern as well as multicultural influences stemming back to its Jewish, Muslim and Christian founders. As such there many examples of interesting architecture to be seen in Montpellier from all periods of French history. The most popular tourist attractions include:
- Walking along the Esplanade, La Place Royale du Peyrou which features some of towns major historical monuments. The Arc de Triomphe built in 1692 lies at the eastern end of the Esplanade and at the western end is the hexagonal water tower, the Château d’Eau which leads to the 18th century Aqueduc de St-Clément.
- The Roman Catholic La Cathédrale Saint-Pierre, a national monument.
- Several Museums – Le Musée d’Anatomie, a 200 year old museum exhibiting rare anatomical specimens and the somewhat gruesome tools of pre-modern medicine. Agropolis Museam of science and society takes you on a journey around the world through the different types of foods from each culture. Musee Languedocien is the art museum displaying an large collection of sculpture and art from Roman and medieval times. Musee de Vieux Montpellier traces the local history of the city.
- La Place de la Comédie, the town square located southwest of the city centre. It features a central fountain called the Three Graces built in 1790 by sculptor Étienne d’Antoine. This is a great place for relaxing and people watching.
- Botanical Gardens, Les Jardin des Plantes
Much of the city is a pedestrian zone and it is very easy to walk from one end of this small town to the other. A particularly enjoyable stroll is along Montpellier’s Esplanade where you can enjoy the tree-lined paths, al fresco dining and market stalls.
Alternatively, for 2 Euro per day hire a bike from one of the Velo Magg machines located throughout town, including at the tourist office on La Place de la Comédie. The tourist office also has maps outlining the extensive network of cycle paths around town, as well as the best places to cycle and where to avoid.
If you prefer something less physical, the Montpellier tram services has two lines which form an “X” through the middle of the town. Tickets can be purchased from the multi-lingual machines at each tram stop, and tram tickets are interchangeable with bus tickets.