More tranquil than its southern neighbours Nice and Marseille, Montpellier is an underrated gem complete with elegant private mansions and wide, tree-lined boulevards. Built around a stylish old quarter, the city was once a prosperous trading port and centre of education. It’s one of France’s most multicultural cities, with a large North African population bringing a flair for food that sits alongside the French classics. The presence of a huge student population - making up around a third of the entire city - means there’s an energetic nightlife scene to enjoy too.
Areas & Neighbourhoods in Montpellier
Les Arceaux - Named for the arches of the aqueduct that runs through it, you’ll find one of the city’s best food markets here. It’s a neighbourhood known for good living, with plenty of bars and cafes geared towards enjoying yourself.
Figuerolles - The area around the Rue Faubourg de Figuerolles boasta a cheap market and plenty of international cuisine to enjoy. There’s a distinct North African vibe here, with a number of excellent cake shops and eateries where you can spoil yourself.
Esplanade Charles-de-Gaulle - A wide boardwalk that runs from the Place de la Comedie to the Corum Building. Many of the city’s main attractions are located here, including the Musee Fabre and Champ de Mars garden.
Place St-Revy - A small square located at the end of several streets where you’ll find a number of impressive city residences, including the Hotel de Jacquet with its 14th century Gothic windows.
Things to See in Montpellier
Don’t miss La Place Royale du Peyrou, a wide esplanade where you’ll find the 17th century Arc de Triomphe and Aqueduct de St Clement. If you’ve got green fingers, then check out Les Jardin des Plantes botanical gardens, and art lovers will enjoy walking through the galleries of the Musee Fabre. Appreciate the architecture of the Antigone District, with its neoclassical flourishes, while the Saint Pierre cathedral is another highlight. Just walking around the old centre you’ll drink in the city’s unique atmosphere but for a taste of something more exotic, head to the Figuerolles district and sample some of the stunning North African cuisine.
Things to Do in Montpellier
On sunny days, head to the nearby beaches at Palavas-les-Flots, Carnon or La Grande-Motte. There are good bus links making a trip to the Med pretty straightforward. Join the locals in a stroll along the Esplanade or simply sit on a bench and watch the world go by. The Parc Zoologique has a great collection of animals from across the world and an indoor Amazon rainforest attraction to explore. The new Antigone district, with its Neoclassical architecture houses several top restaurants along the banks of the river, and is well worth exploring. If you’re looking for upscale shopping, then head to the centre of town where you’ll find exclusive boutiques lining the streets, as well as all the leading French chains.