Top 9 Day Trips from Montpellier and Surrounding Area

Last Updated on June 26, 2024 by April Nicole

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During my delightful two-week stay in Montpellier, a gem in the heart of Southern France, I discovered the joy of embarking on day trips to explore the surrounding beauty.

Montpellier, known for its rich history and vibrant culture, serves as the perfect base for discovering some of the region’s most charming cities and landscapes.

This experience led me to curate a list of the best day trips from Montpellier, each offering a unique glimpse into the diverse fabric of Southern France.

My adventures, from quaint medieval towns to breathtaking coastal views, were nothing short of extraordinary.

I’m going to guide you through these enchanting destinations, providing practical tips and insights from my own journeys.

👉 Check out my one day in Montpellier suggestions if you only have a short amount of time.

Day Trips from Montpellier

Planning a Day Trip from Montpellier?

The most popular day trips from Montpellier fill up quickly, especially from April through October. Book early to get the dates you want:

If you are in a hurry, here’s a summary of the best day trips from Montpellier:

Best day trips from Montpellier

1. Sète

Duration from Montpellier by train: Approx. 20 minutes

Sète, often celebrated as the ‘Venice of Languedoc’, is a picturesque and lively coastal town that stands out among day trips from Montpellier. This enchanting port town, crisscrossed by canals and framed by the Mediterranean Sea and Thau Lagoon, is a haven for those who love the sea.

A unique aspect of Sète’s cultural identity is its tradition of water jousting, a historic and exciting spectacle that brings the community together in a celebration of local heritage.

Alongside this, Sète offers delightful sandy beaches, a lively port atmosphere, and exceptional seafood. Hike up Mont Saint-Clair for panoramic views, or explore the town’s rich artistic scene, including theatres and galleries. Sète is more than just a scenic coastal town; it’s a vibrant hub of culinary, artistic, and maritime traditions.

Top Things to Do in Sète

  • Mont Saint-Clair: Get panoramic views of the city and the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Sète Beaches: Enjoy sunbathing and swimming on Sète’s beautiful beaches.
  • Sea Kayak Trip in Sète: Explore secret caves and hidden coves in Sète
  • Théâtre de la Mer: Attend an open-air performance with a stunning sea backdrop.

Where to Eat and Drink in Sète

  • Chez François: Famous for its fresh seafood and traditional Setoise dishes, with views of the canal
  • La Ola: Beachfront dining offering a relaxing atmosphere and a menu full of Mediterranean flavors
  • Le Grand Bar des Goudes: Ideal for sampling local wines and enjoying light bites in a friendly setting
Enthusiastic participants engage in traditional water jousting in Sète, France, with onlookers cheering from the decorated boats and riverside. This lively cultural event is a unique spectacle to enjoy on a day trips from Montpellier
The iconic lighthouse of Sète, standing tall against a backdrop of fluffy clouds and blue skies, overlooks the harbor, a notable landmark to see on a day trips from Montpellier.

2. Nîmes

Duration from Montpellier by train: Approx. 30 minutes

Nîmes, a highlight among day trips from Montpellier, is a city where the ancient and modern merge seamlessly. Often referred to as the ‘Rome of France,’ Nîmes houses some of the best-preserved Roman monuments in Europe. Day Trips from Montpellier

Its historical allure is encapsulated in the magnificent Arena of Nîmes, reminiscent of the grandeur of ancient Rome. The city is a vivid tapestry of culture and history, where the Maison Carrée, an ancient Roman temple, stands in stately elegance.

The Jardins de la Fontaine, one of Europe’s earliest public parks, offers a serene escape with its classical sculptures and ornate landscaping. Exploring the lively markets of Nîmes, you’ll experience the local flavors and the vibrant atmosphere that make it a must-visit destination for those looking for enriching day trips from Montpellier.

Top Things to Do in Nîmes

  • Arena of Nîmes: Explore one of the best-preserved Roman amphitheaters in the world
  • Maison Carrée: Marvel at this ancient Roman temple, a remarkable example of classical architecture
  • Nimes, Uzes & Pont du Gard Tour from Avignon: small-group half-day tour will take you back in time

  • Jardins de la Fontaine:
    Relax in these beautiful 18th-century gardens, featuring Roman ruins
  • Nîmes Market: Experience local life and flavors in the vibrant market

Where to Eat and Drink in Nîmes

  • Le Jardin Secret: A charming bistro offering classic French cuisine in a cozy, garden-like setting
  • La Table 2 Julien: Known for its creative dishes and local ingredients, perfect for a gourmet experience
  • L’Imprévu: A popular spot for both locals and tourists, offering a wide range of dishes in a lively atmosphere
Tourists observe the ancient Roman amphitheater of Nîmes, France, under a bright blue sky dotted with clouds, capturing the grandeur of historical sites to be discovered on a day trips from Montpellier.
Visitors gather on the steps of the grand Maison Carrée in Nîmes, France, an impeccably preserved Roman temple basking in the sunlight, a striking historical highlight for a day trips from Montpellier

3. Narbonne

Duration from Montpellier by train: Approx. 1 hour

Narbonne, a city steeped in history, was once a prosperous Roman port and now serves as a gateway to the past. The heart of the city is dominated by the impressive Gothic Narbonne Cathedral, which, despite its unfinished state, exudes a grandeur that captures the city’s historical significance.

Below the city streets lies the Horreum, an underground network of Roman warehouses, offering a unique glimpse into ancient trade practices.

The Canal de la Robine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, cuts through the city, providing picturesque views and leisurely walks. Narbonne’s vibrant market, Les Halles, bustles with activity, offering a taste of the region’s culinary richness. Narbonne combines its ancient roots with a lively contemporary spirit, making it an intriguing blend of history and modernity.

Top Things to Do in Narbonne

  • Narbonne Cathedral: Immerse in the grandeur of this incomplete but impressive Gothic cathedral
  • Horreum Roman Warehouse: Discover this underground labyrinth dating back to Roman times
  • Canal de la Robine: Enjoy a leisurely walk or boat ride along the scenic canal
  • Les Halles de Narbonne: Sample local delicacies in this bustling, traditional market

Where to Eat and Drink in Narbonne

  • Les Grands Buffets: Famous for its lavish buffet-style dining, offering a vast array of French classics
  • Brasserie Co: A vibrant spot for enjoying traditional fare in a lively, modern ambiance
The bustling square in front of the Palace of the Archbishops in Narbonne, with outdoor cafés and relaxed patrons, offers a blend of historical architecture and modern leisure, ideal for day trips from Montpellier.

4. Marseille

Duration from Montpellier by train: Approx. 1 hour and 30 minutes

Having visited Marseille a couple of times, I can confidently say that it presents a striking contrast to the classic Parisian experience, showcasing a different, vibrant side of France. This city, a melting pot of cultures, bustles with a unique energy that’s distinctly Mediterranean. Among the many things to do in Marseille, exploring the Vieux Port (Old Port) was a highlight, where the city’s multicultural spirit is most palpable. Day Trips from Montpellier

The historical landmarks, such as the Notre-Dame de la Garde, offered breathtaking views and a glimpse into the city’s rich past. Each visit allowed me to indulge in traditional Marseille food; the fresh seafood here is exceptional, especially the Bouillabaisse, a local specialty that is a must-try. Marseille’s blend of diverse cultures, lively atmosphere, and culinary delights made it an enriching experience, very different from the more well-trodden tourist paths in France.

Aside from that, Montpellier is also close to a lot of amazing places! Having said that, a fast no-change train will allow you to travel between the two cities in under two hours each way. Check out my guide to spending a day in Marseille for more inspiration.

Top Things to Do in Marseille

  • Vieux Port (Old Port): Explore the heart of the city with its vibrant fish market and waterfront cafes
  • Notre-Dame de la Garde: Visit this iconic basilica for panoramic views of Marseille
  • Calanques National Park Bike Tour: Venture out to see the stunning limestone cliffs and turquoise waters
  • Mucem (Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations): Experience contemporary architecture and diverse cultural exhibitions

Where to Eat and Drink in Marseille

  • Chez Fonfon: A must-visit for trying the traditional Bouillabaisse, located in the picturesque Vallon des Auffes
  • La Caravelle: A cozy bar with a balcony overlooking the Vieux Port, perfect for cocktails and light bites.
  • Le Petit Nice: An upscale dining experience offering refined Mediterranean cuisine and stunning sea views

5. Béziers

Duration from Montpellier by train: Approx. 50 minutes

Béziers, one of the oldest cities in France, holds a rich historical and cultural heritage. This city is renowned for its stunning cathedral, dominating the skyline with gothic grandeur, and the iconic Canal du Midi, a masterpiece of engineering that invites serene boat rides and picturesque strolls.

Béziers is not only about its historical landmarks; it’s a city pulsating with life, especially during the Feria de Béziers, a vibrant festival filled with music, dance, and traditional events. The old town offers a journey through narrow streets lined with shops and cafés, each corner revealing a piece of the city’s layered history. Béziers is a captivating blend of the ancient and the contemporary, inviting visitors to explore its many facets.

Top Things to Do in Béziers

  • Béziers Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Nazaire): Marvel at the Gothic architecture and panoramic views of the city
  • Béziers Food Tour: Sample 5 to 6 different regional delicacies
  • Canal du Midi: Take a relaxing boat ride or stroll along this iconic canal
  • Feria de Béziers: If visiting in August, experience the lively atmosphere of this traditional festival

Where to Eat and Drink in Béziers

  • Octopus: A modern, Michelin-starred restaurant known for its inventive take on classic French dishes
  • Le Chameau Ivre: A wine bar and bistro with an extensive selection of wines and delicious small plates
  • La Maison de Petit Pierre: A cozy and popular place offering a warm atmosphere and delightful dishes
A visitor walks through the Gothic archways of the Cathédrale Saint-Nazaire's cloister in Béziers, an architectural marvel and a contemplative space to visit on a day trips from Montpellier.

6. Arles

Duration from Montpellier by train: Approx. 1 hour

My impromptu trip to Arles, taken on a whim with little expectation, turned out to be a delightful discovery of art, history, and Provençal charm. Arles, with its rich Roman past and association with Van Gogh, is a town that surprises and captivates. During my one day in Arles, I was struck by the well-preserved Arles Amphitheatre, which echoed the grandeur of ancient Roman times.

Walking in the footsteps of Van Gogh, I could sense the inspiration he drew from this enchanting town, especially vivid at the Fondation Vincent Van Gogh. The old town, with its colorful markets and Romanesque architecture, particularly at the Église Saint-Trophime and its cloister, was a journey through centuries. Arles, a blend of artistic legacy and historical intrigue, proved to be an unexpected gem that left a lasting impression.

Top Things to Do in Arles

  • Arles Amphitheatre: Step back into Roman times at this well-preserved ancient arena
  • Van Gogh’s Arles: Trace the footsteps of Vincent van Gogh, visiting sites that inspired his paintings
  • 4×4 Camargue Safari: safari accompanied by a guide to the village of Saintes Maries de la Mer
  • Église Saint-Trophime and Cloister: Admire the Romanesque architecture of this historic church and cloister

Where to Eat and Drink in Arles

  • Café La Nuit: known for its connection to Vincent van Gogh; perfect for a casual meal or a drink in a historic atmosphere
  • Le Gibolin: A charming bistro known for its local dishes and relaxed atmosphere.

7. Carcassonne

Duration from Montpellier by train: Approx. 1 hour and 15 minutes

Carcassonne, a medieval jewel in the Languedoc region, stands as a magnificent example of a fortified medieval town. This UNESCO World Heritage site is famous for its massive fortifications, fairy-tale towers, and cobbled streets, transporting visitors to a bygone era.

The Cité de Carcassonne, a fortress with a history dating back over 2,000 years, dominates the landscape. Day Trips from Montpellier

Inside its walls, you’ll find a labyrinth of lanes, charming shops, and quaint cafés. The imposing Château Comtal and Basilica of Saints Nazarius and Celsus are notable landmarks.

Top Things to Do in Carcassonne

  • Cité de Carcassonne: Visit the UNESCO-listed fortified medieval city
  • Wine Discovery Tasting: experience six wines from one of the world’s most exciting wine regions
  • Château Comtal: Explore the castle and its ramparts for a trip back in medieval times
  • Basilica of Saints Nazarius and Celsus: Admire the stunning architecture and stained glass of this historic basilica
  • Local Gastronomy: Try the famous Cassoulet, a hearty regional dish

Where to Eat and Drink in Carcassonne

  • La Barbacane: A high-end dining experience inside the Hotel de la Cité, offering sophisticated French cuisine
  • L’Escargot: Offers a variety of local dishes in a charming, historic setting
Tourists amble along the cobbled paths of the fortified medieval Cité de Carcassonne, with its imposing towers and ramparts under a clear blue sky, a popular historical day trips from Montpellier
A quaint street in Carcassonne, France, featuring the stone facade of a museum with a colorful banner and a life-size figure in historical costume at the entrance. This museum adds a touch of intrigue to a day trips from Montpellier

8. Avignon

Duration from Montpellier by train: Approx. 1 hour

Avignon, a city rich in history and culture, is an ideal day trip from Montpellier for those looking to spend one day immersing themselves in the essence of medieval France. This walled city, once the seat of the Papacy, is most famous for the Palais des Papes, one of the largest and most important medieval Gothic buildings in Europe.

A day in Avignon is a journey through time, where cobblestone streets lead to architectural wonders and hidden courtyards. The Pont d’Avignon, immortalized in the famous song, stretches elegantly over the Rhône River and is a must-visit. The city’s vibrant cultural scene is reflected in its numerous cafes, markets, and shops, offering a taste of Provencal life.

Avignon’s annual theatre festival transforms the city into a dynamic stage, showcasing its artistic vitality. For those with only one day in Avignon, the city offers a memorable experience combining historic grandeur, artistic charm, and lively southern French atmosphere.

Top Things to Do in Avignon

  • Palais des Papes: Explore the majestic papal palace, a symbol of the church’s influence in the 14th century
  • Chateauneuf du Pape Wine Tour: a visit of 4 domains/wine castles.
  • Pont d’Avignon (Pont Saint-Bénézet): Visit the legendary bridge and learn about its history and folklore
  • Musée du Petit Palais: Admire an impressive collection of Renaissance paintings and sculptures

Where to Eat and Drink in Avignon

  • Christian Etienne: Located near the Palais des Papes, known for its innovative takes on Provençal dishes
  • Ginette et Marcel: A quaint spot ideal for a casual lunch, known for its tartines and relaxed vibe

9. Collioure

Duration from Montpellier by car: Approx. 2 hours and 30 minutes

Collioure, a picturesque small town nestled in the heart of the Vermilion Coast, offers an enchanting blend of artistic heritage and Mediterranean charm. Known for its colorful waterfront and vibrant streets, this seaside gem has been a muse for famous artists like Matisse and Derain, who were captivated by its radiant light and vivid hues. Day Trips from Montpellier

A visit to Collioure is a visual delight, with its historic royal castle, charming old town, and iconic bell tower standing against the backdrop of azure waters. The town’s beaches, though small, are wonderfully inviting, perfect for a leisurely swim or sunbathing.

Strolling through the lively markets and waterfront promenades, one can savor local wines and seafood, soaking in the relaxed atmosphere of this idyllic coastal village. Whether you’re an art lover, a history enthusiast, or simply seeking a serene seaside escape, Collioure provides a picturesque setting for a delightful day out

Top Things to Do in Collioure

  • Château Royal de Collioure: Discover the history of this imposing fortress overlooking the bay
  • Church of Notre-Dame-des-Anges: Admire the unique bell tower and waterfront location
  • Artist’s Trail: Follow the trail to see the views that inspired Fauvist painters

Where to Eat and Drink in Collioure

  • Casa Léon: A local favorite for seafood and traditional Catalan dishes
  • Le 5ème Péché: A fusion of French and Japanese cuisine, creating unique and flavorful dishes
  • La Voile: Situated by the sea, offering fresh seafood and spectacular views
The vibrant art-filled entrance to 'Madame Cotlliure' on Rue de la Fraternité in Collioure, France, invites onlookers with its warm yellow walls and colorful artwork, a charming find on a day trips from Montpellier.

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