Montpellier , midway between Spain and Italy, very close to the Mediterranean sea, is one of the favourite city of french people. With its narrow streets and sunny little squares, its international festivals and student festivities, Montpellier offers an exceptional quality of life.
Mostly inhabited by local and foreign students, this spacious and original city is always vibrant and full of life. Ideal for parties and nightlife, Montpellier is a perfect destination for studies or summer vacations. Montpellier has been elected “French place to visit 2012” by the New York Times and it still growing more and more every year.
What to do ?
Place de la comédie
the place is the new heart of the city. Between modernity and ancient, this beautiful place is spacious and animated. Every day, musicians and artists perform for tourists and visitors.The “place de la comédie” is particularly famous for its theatre which dominates the place. The theatre has been inspired by the Paris Opera. This beautiful building gives charisma and personality to Place de la comédie.
Following the square is the Esplanade, a cool and shady place under plane trees. During the day, it’s a nice place to rest especially during summer. At night, it’s a meeting point for many people from the “underground” culture.
By taking narrow streets from Place de la comédie, you’ll reach the old center of Montpellier. Characterized by little and tangled streets,the old center is typical. The center is lovely by the presence of many handcraft shop, ice cream shops, local food stores…
The “rue de l’université” is an on slope street, with many bars, restaurants, snacks frequented by young people but not only. Usually from 5-8pm, all bars have happy hours with good discounts on soft and alcohols. You’ll find a pint of beer for 2€ if you look for the right place !
This is a good occasion to taste some wines for a good value, as Montpellier is traditionally a wine capital in France.
University District – Montpellier is well-known in France and throughout the world for its universities & good superior schools. The Universities in Montpellier have played a large part in the city reputation. Montpellier is a fast- growing city mostly because of this dynamic set up.
This district is composed by the Cathedral St-Pierre which looks like a medieval fortress. The style of this cathedral is more gothic, but roman as well. The ancient nunnery is now the University of medicine and visits are possible.
The university is the oldest school in occident still functional nowadays. It’s now classified as the Unesco World Heritage,since 2004. The university is the sanctuary of thousands and thousands of books, studies, dissertations made from the 17th century in Montpellier and Paris.
Book a guided tour at the tourism office (Between Place de la comédie and the Esplanade). Just next door is the International Academy of Music, where you can discover very old instruments.
Zoo and amazonian greenhouse
The Zoo of Lunaret is a park, absolutely free for visitors however the greenhouse needs tickets. But it is not mandatory to visit. The park is located north of Montpellier. You can reach it by tramway and a shuttle.
The corum is a modern project from 1988. It’s a “Palais des congrès” (congress palace of France) and the Opera Berlioz. The Opera has a very unique and qualitative acoustic inside its walls.
The Corum is home of many events during the year like the Cinemed (Festival of Mediterranean Cinema).
The Promenade du Peyrou
West of the old city, the Peyrou is a place where triumphs an arch inspired from Romans but built by Louis XIV. The Peyrou is also composed by an old aqueduct and an old water tower. The promenade du Peyrou is a shady and lovely park, loved by inhabitants and visitors.
The promenade is a very open space, ideal to observe the city from a higher spot. Every sunday, the Peyrou welcomes a flea market.
The culture wine is very present in Montpellier like everywhere in the south of France. That’s why the tourism office offers a ranges of gateways to discover regional vineyards. Private companies offer this type of products as well. Wine bars, restaurants, producers or famous vineyards, you’ll always find a way to degust wines and fresh local products.
More information : http://www.montpellier-tourisme.fr/offre/recherche/preparer/oenotourisme/3/~/(page)/1
Beach front leisures
The mediterranean sea is just at Montpellier doorstep. Indeed, only a few kilometers separate the city from the shore.
The main beaches are : Palavas, la Grande Motte, le Grau du Roi.
Usually crowded during summer, the Grau du Roi might be the best option : wild, spacious with dunes, fauna and flora. Horse riding is a must-do at sunset on the Grau du Roi beaches.
Like every coast lines, the Montpellier surroundings has a huge range of possibilities : boat, nautic sports, bars and restaurants right on the beach…
France is well-known for its unique french lifestyle. And Montpellier is another example of that : good food and wines have to be on your list of priorities when visiting the area.
Due to the proximity of the Mediterranean Sea, fresh fishes and seafood are served everywhere. Taste fresh fish soup made from the fishing of the day with bread and cheese, grilled fishes, good shrimps and more. Everything accompanied by tasty vegetables such as capiscum, tomatoes, eggplants, zucchini, garlic. Mediterranean food is tasty, spicy, colourful like its inhabitants.
Nothing as good as a glass (or a bottle) of wine to perfect your meals. Ask the waiters and sommeliers for the right wine to match your plate : red, white or rosé (speciality from south of france).
It is good to live and spend vacations in Montpellier. Everything from the weather to the events and festivals are made to make you love this city.
The Fise (Festival International des Sports Extrêmes – International Festival of Extreme Sports), is probably the most famous festival in Montpellier and throughout south of France. It’s the biggest competition of extreme sports and Europe and welcomes hundred of performers and thousands of visitors. This event takes place during May every year, along the riverside of the Lez and Jacques Coeur.
The atmosphere is boosted with tons of sportives and professionals from all over the world.
The Battle of the Year
Every year the Battle of the Year is a huge event for hip-hop culture.
This competition opposes the best breakdancers in France. The best Bboys are elected at the end of tournament. This event is not only about competition. Indeed, during a whole week there are dance courses, concerts, parties…
The cinemed is the international festival of mediterranean cinema. It’s a well-known rendez-vous for cinema and culture lovers: more than 200 movies are shown to the public. All around the city of Montpellier, events, projections, cultural nights are programmed. The best way to discover actors, producers from the south of Europe.
Those are the main events during the year but the only ones : Les Hivernales, The Open sud of Tennis in France, the Montpellier Marathon, Le Printemps des Comédiens, Radio France Festival, the Family Piknik, the Internationals of Guitar, Les Estivales, and many more…
Where to stay?
Montpellier in key numbers it’s 5 millions tourists and 4 millions nights per year. As a top tourist destination in France, Montpellier offers tons of options for travellers concerning accommodations.
From the hostel for those who want to meet travellers and foreigners to the luxurious hotels, you’ll have the choice corresponding to your budget.
Couchsurfing could be an original and interesting option as well. By the presence of a lot of students and young people, this trend is tend to be developed more and more.
Auberge de jeunesse HI Montpellier is the only “real” youth hostel in the city and is located right in the city centre. This hostel is part of the Hostelling International label. Make sure you book your nights in advance, as it’s probably the cheapest place to stay.
Camping is still a possibility but you have to know that most of the campsites are (usually) located outside the city and you’ll certainly need a car for your travelings.. And you’ll also need all the equipment. Mobile-homes are very often offered to rent in campsites, but the cost is higher.
For long stays, from 1 months to 1 year, some agencies are specialised in apartments renting. They are used to work with foreigners (students mostly). The administrative tasks are usually simplified for the customers.
But this has a cost as well, please consider having flatmates, to reduce the costs. Having flatmates in Montpellier is very common and allow you to rent a room in an apartment.
General Information – Montpellier
Staying in France always include to have a certain amount of money to spend out. Accommodation and transports are not cheap, without being expensive if you’re smart. -Instead of buying a single ticket for transports, buy a carnet or day trip ticket.
-Download the App “Bla Bla Car”. It’s a platform for drivers and passengers for carpooling. Montpellier-Avignon for 5-10€/person instead of 15-20€ by train -Going to bars during Happy Hours to have reduced price on drinks.
-Following social medias for upcoming events (festivals, discount on events, free concerts…) -Montpellier is a city full of students, they are the best source of information you can find. Never hesitate to ask for good tips 😉