Last Updated on November 6, 2023 by April Verge
Let’s explore what to do in Montpellier!
The city of Montpellier will always hold a special place in my heart. And perhaps after reading this, it will also take some of yours.
A few hours from the Spanish border, the French city of Montpellier is located on the Mediterranean coast.
Montpellier is a classic French city with a hint of Mediterranean class. It is also referred to as “The Real South of France” due to its differences from the Cote d’Azur region.
Montpellier, the seventh-largest city in France, is well-known for its youthful, student population.
Montpellier is one of the youngest, hippest, and trendiest locations you will visit in France, with more than 50% of the population under the age of 35.
But what are the best things to do in Montpellier? You’d be surprised at how much!
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Are you planning your trip to Montpellier Soon?
If you are in a hurry, here’s a summary of what to do in Montpellier:
What is Montpellier famous for?
The city of Montpellier is known for its history, architecture, and iconic landmarks such as the Place de la Comédie, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Saint-Pierre Cathedral.
As a major university city, Montpellier boasts one of the oldest universities in the world, the University of Montpellier, which was founded in 1220.
Montpellier is known for its delicious seafood, cheeses, and wines because of its location in the Languedoc-Roussillon wine region.
Moreover, Montpellier is located in close proximity to the Mediterranean coast, so taking a bus from the center of the city will take you to several sandy beaches. The Petit Travers and Grand Travers (between the Grande Motte and Carnon) and Palavas-les-Flots are some of the best beaches near Montpellier.
How to get to Montpellier
You have a variety of transportation options to get to the city of Montpelier.
✈️Fly into Montpellier-Méditerranée Airport (MPL) if you’re taking a flight, as it has good connections to important European destinations like London Gatwick, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Athens. From the airport, which is around 10 kilometers from the city center, you can then take a shuttle, a cab, or the public transportation system.
🚆As an alternative, getting to Montpelier by train is easy. The Montpellier Saint-Roch train station is a key center for both national and regional services, and the city has a well-developed rail network. Montpelier is connected to Paris and other significant French cities by high-speed trains (TGV).
🚘Montpelier may be reached by car through the A9 and A75 motorways, which connect it to the rest of France and its neighbors. I advise you to rent a car so you can soak in the journey’s stunning views of the region’s landscape.
Is one day in Montpellier enough time?
Yes, Montpellier is quite compact, with all of its major attractions within walking distance of one another. You can easily see all of Montpellier’s attractions in a single day since most of the attractions are centered around the vieux ville (Montpellier old town).
Where to Stay in Montpellier
The Antigone district and Montpellier’s historic old town (l’Écusson) are the ideal places to stay. Both places provide a good combination of charm, practicality, and quick access to the city’s dining, shopping, and attraction options.
Best Western Plus Comédie Saint Roch – I chose to stay at the Best Western Plus Comédie Saint Roch while visiting the French city. This hotel had all the amenities I needed for my trip—it was tidy, cozy, and close to the train station. It was also helpful that I could leave my bags at reception during the day so that I could explore Montpellier’s offerings because I was only staying for one night.
Me and Mrs Jones Suite Jacuzzi Hypercentre – Located in the center of the old town, this hotel offers a pleasant stay with tasteful accommodations, prompt service, and a lovely indoor pool. Its ideal position makes it simple to explore the historical sights and lively ambiance of the old town.
Hotel d’Aragon – provides a more individualized and boutique experience and is located in the Antigone neighborhood. Its comfortable accommodations, helpful staff, and attractive garden courtyard foster a calm atmosphere. The suburb is a gorgeous region with several cafés and restaurants nearby because to its modern construction and proximity to the River Lez.
Suggested itinerary for what to do in Montpellier
Here are my top picks for why I adore Montpellier.
Start your day at Place de la Comédie
The Place de la Comédie is a Montpellier square that should not be missed!
Its beginnings can be seen in the 18th century. Place de la Comédie is surrounded by impressive structures in the Haussmannian architectural style, posh stores, and quaint cafes. Its stunning Three Graces fountain serves as its focal point and is a well-liked gathering place for both locals and tourists.
The square buzzing with activity all day long, from colorful markets and cultural events to street performers and musicians. Many of Montpellier’s top attractions are close by, and it serves as a gateway to the city’s ancient old center.
Have a traditional French breakfast at one of the cafes, sit back, and enjoy one of the top French pastimes: people watching.
Café BUN is one of the best coffee shops in the city and offers a mouthwatering array of brunch favorites such as scrambled eggs 😀
The Pavillon Populaire, a superb venue situated on the Grand Place adjacent to the Place de la Comédie in the heart of Montpellier, is a must-see for art enthusiasts.
Since the late 1990s, the Pavillon Populaire has gained recognition as a photography art venue on a global scale. The venue features works by regional and worldwide artists in three new exhibitions a year, all of which are European premieres.
Built in 1891 in the Renaissance style, the building has multiple sculptures throughout. Its interior is designed with a large hall, multiple offices, a library, a conference room, gymnasiums, and a billiard room. Numerous well-known painters from the city created the designs for these rooms. Everyone is welcome to enter the Pavillon Populaire at no cost.
Visit the Musée Fabre
There are several cultural attractions in Montpellier, but the Musée Fabre is unquestionably the best.
This wonderful museum is named after François-Xavier Fabre, a well-known local painter and art collector, and is located in a stunning neoclassical edifice. It debuted in 1825 and has a sizable collection of artwork by Delacroix, Courbet, and Rubens, among other artists. A noteworthy collection of European artworks from the 17th to the 19th centuries are also included.
The Fabre Museum also displays outstanding examples of sculptures and decorative arts, giving tourists access to a wide range of artistic mediums.
Château de Flaugergues
A magnificent mansion from the 17th century that perfectly captures the splendor and history of the area is the Château de Flaugergues. It has been meticulously kept and depicts the affluent way of life of its former inhabitants.
The prestigious Bertrand de Flaugergues family, who ordered its construction in 1696, is the source of the château’s history. You may learn about the affluent lifestyles of the French nobles as you explore its magnificent rooms decorated with period furnishings, gorgeous tapestries, and impressive art collections.
A tranquil retreat from the busy city is provided by the property’s gorgeous landscaped gardens, which are embellished with statues, fountains, and rare flora. Walking through the well kept gardens is like walking into a painting, and from the gardens, you can see the entire Montpelier skyline, which is simply stunning.
Have lunch around Place de la Comédie
As you might expect from a city by the sea, seafood is one of the most sought-after cuisines while dining out in Montpellier. Grand Café Riche and Le Melice are a couple of the top establishments in the Place de la Comédie neighborhood.
Today, there are many more possibilities than there were even a few years ago for individuals searching for vegan and vegetarian meals. Hakko Vegetarian restaurant, La Table des Poètes, and Reflet d’Obione are some of the top restaurants in town for meat-free food.
Explore the historic old town
The old part of Montpellier is somewhere you should spend a lot of time. The beautiful neighborhood of “l’Écusson” is a labyrinth of winding cobblestone lanes, medieval structures, and secret courtyards that exudes an alluring fusion of architectural styles and cultural influences.
The history of the old town, which dates back to the Middle Ages and has been painstakingly conserved, provides visitors with a window into Montpellier’s illustrious past. There are numerous architectural treasures in the old town’s maze-like lanes, including the famous Montpellier Cathedral and the ancient Mikvé, both of which have spectacular Gothic facades. One of the few remaining Jewish ritual baths in Europe is the latter.
The Montpellier Cathedral or Cathedrale St. Pierre offers a wonderful glimpse into the city’s cultural and architectural history.
This magnificent Gothic structure, also known as St Pierre Cathedral, is a masterpiece that has served as a reminder of faith and aesthetic excellence for many years.
The cathedral was built over several decades, starting in the 14th century, and features a variety of Gothic and Renaissance architectural styles. Intricate sculptures and exquisite rose windows grace its spectacular façade, while beautiful vaulted ceilings, gorgeous chapels, stunning stained-glass windows, and exceptional altarpieces can be found inside.
To get a beautiful perspective over the Peyrou Gardens, Pic Saint-Loup, Agora, or the Corum, as well as the intricate architectural features of the medieval church, climb the 200 steps of the Urbain V tower.
Stroll through the Jardin des Plantes (Botanical Gardens)
If you visit the Cathedral, walk for five to ten minutes to reach the spectacular Montpellier botanical gardens, the Jardin des Plantes de Montpellier.
The oldest botanical garden in France, this historical park was originally established as a university garden in the 16th century.
With over 2,600 plant species from around the world, this botanical garden, founded in 1593, creates a peaceful oasis in the heart of the city.
Promenade du Peyrou
The magnificent Promenade du Peyrou is a promenade on an elevated platform that offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city and its surroundings. In order to honor his visit to Montpellier, King Louis XIV had it made in the late 17th century. It still stands as a hub for community, history, and environment.
The grand monument of Louis XIV riding a horse, encircled by exquisite balustrades and imposing arches, serves as the focal point of the Promenade du Peyrou. The area’s charm is enhanced by the opulent Château d’Eau water tower.
Locals can be seen having picnics, playing petanque, and relaxing in the sun as you meander along the tree-lined walkways. Many locals consider the promenade to be their favorite gathering place because of its tranquil atmosphere and spectacular views.
Visit Porte du Peyrou
After you visit Promenade du Peyrou, stroll on over to one of the most prominent landmarks in Montpellier, the Porte du Peyrou.
The late 17th-century construction of this magnificent triumphal arch commemorates King Louis XIV’s triumphal entry into the city.
The Porte du Peyrou, which is perched on a noticeable hill, is a towering representation of Montpellier’s history. Its striking neoclassical architecture, which is embellished with elaborate sculptures and fine details, perfectly encapsulates the beauty of French architecture.
The gate is a well-liked location for both locals and tourists since, in addition to its historical value, it offers stunning city views. The Peyrou Promenade, nearby adds to the beauty and majesty of the location.
Enjoy dinner at a nice restaurant in Montpellier
There are plenty of options for every taste and budget in Montpellier’s vibrant food scene. Whether you’re craving traditional French cuisine or something a little more exotic, you’re sure to find something to suit your palate.
Best Montpellier Restaurants
I’ve included some of the best restaurants that are close to the things to do in Montpellier.
- La Coquille – This family-run restaurant has been in business for 40 years, and its grilled French fish from the Mediterranean Sea and traditional fare are its specialties.
- Le Petit Jardin Montpellier – Located in a tranquil, verdant garden, this classic fine dining establishment features one of the city’s most beautiful terraces.
- Chez Toto – It’s been 12 years since Chez Toto first opened. A small, welcoming shellfish bar that is well known for its family atmosphere
Have more time?
If you’ve been to Montpellier before and are looking for something a little different to do for one day there, here are some of the things on my list for a repeat trip there.
Take a day trip
Due to its many transit options, Montpellier not only offers a wealth of activities within the city limits but also serves as a fantastic starting point for exploring the greater Occitanie region. Here are a few of the top day trips from Montpellier you can take.
Take the tram to the beach
Montpellier now has four tramlines, and in the coming years, the city plans to increase this number by at least one. Visitors can ride tram number 3 to the beach for a very low cost at the final stop. They can choose to take a leisurely stroll or borrow one of the city’s Vélomagg’ (bicycles available for rental by the hour or the day) and pedal to the sea. This expedition is ideal for spring or summer days because of the clear waters, smooth beach, and plenty of sun.
If you’re passionate about animals, you ought to check out Montpellier Zoo. Founded in 1964, this vast zoological park is home to a diverse array of animals from all over the world.
The design of the park is modeled after natural habitats, providing its residents with a cozy and engaging atmosphere. Montpellier Zoo provides an enthralling glimpse into the world of animals, featuring everything from elegant giraffes and majestic lions to brightly colored birds and naughty playful primates.
The Montpellier Zoo’s commitment to conservation and education is among its most remarkable qualities. Visitors can gain knowledge about the value of preserving wildlife and safeguarding endangered species through a variety of programs and exhibits.
Buy at the Brocante
France is renowned for its abundance of brocantes, or flea markets, and Montpellier is no exception, holding nearly daily markets all over the city.
The Marché Du Lez has to be my favorite flea market in Montpellier.
Montpellier’s hipster hotspot, Marché Du Lez, is located on the banks of the Rive du Lez (Lez River). The flea market features 20 local professionals displaying their vintage finds and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 to 7.
Quartier Saint-Roch is the best place to witness Montpelier’s bohemian charm and rich history.
This bustling neighborhood close to the city center radiates a fascinating blend of modern inventiveness and historic architecture. Due to its close proximity to Gare Saint Roch, the main train station, Quartier Saint-Roch, which has roots in the Middle Ages, has become a melting pot of cultures.
The neighborhood is well-liked by both residents and visitors because of its vibrant cafes, art galleries, and boutique stores. You’ll find hidden treasures like charming bookstores with unique character and street art as you meander through its winding streets and take in the bohemian ambiance.
Is Montpellier Worth Visiting?
Yes, Montpellier a terrific destination to visit with its museum of contemporary art, flights from Bristol and Heathrow during peak season, and restaurants serving regional cuisine. Montpellier is a lovely city to visit, with all of its innocent charm.
Did I miss anything on what to do in Montpellier for a day? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!