City Guide: Montpellier
Montpellier is the third largest city in Southern France after Marseille and Nice. After our first visit to Montpellier ended in a snowy disaster earlier this year, I opted for another visit during May.
Let’s say I barely even recognized the city the second time around. The first time we arrived, there were about five to ten centimetres of snow and everything was at a standstill – no public transportation, cars got stuck on the streets and we halfway carried, halfway pulled our suitcases along the slippery streets to the hotel.
That’s also basically all we got to see as we weren’t any luckier the next morning – it seems like people in Montpellier have never even heard of a snowplough.
Anyways, the second time around I was blessed with good weather, which is also why I decided to go for a quick tram and bus ride to go to the beach. After all, if you’ve travelled all the way from Paris you want to get to see the sea when you’re so close already! While that cut my sightseeing in Montpellier a little short, I still want to introduce you to some of the major sights in this city guide of Montpellier!
Place de la Comedie
The Place de la Comedie is the main square in Montpellier as it is right by the train station. In the centre of the square you can see the fountain, which is called Three Graces.
On the North-Eastern side of the square it continues onto the Esplanade de Charles de Gaulle. Nearby you can also find the Opera of Montpellier.
Porte du Peyrou
At the end of rue Forch you will find Montpellier’s Arc de Triomphe, which is also known as the Porte du Peyrou. The arch was built in 1693 to glorify King Louis the fourteenth.
Nearby you will find the Court of Appeal as well as a park called Promenade du Peyrou which leads you to the Aqueduct Saint-Clément. From here you can also have nice views of the surroundings of Montpellier.
The aqueduct was constructed in the late 18th century to transport water into Montpellier.
Jardin des plantes – Botanical Garden in Montpellier
A two-minute walk from the aqueduct you will find the Botanical Garden of Montpellier, which is a little green oasis allowing for a little stroll.
Cathedral of Montpellier
Just across the street from the Botanical Garden you will find one of the most impressive buildings of Montpellier: the Cathedral of St. Pierre!
This Roman Catholic church located in Montpellier was built in a Gothic style and suffered extensive damage from the religious wars in the 16th century, it thus had to be rebuilt during the 17th century.
Esplanade of Charles-de-Gaulle
As mentioned previously, the Esplanade of Charles-de-Gaulle is closely aligned to the Place de la Comedie and forms part of the outer part of the town centre.
Nearby there is the famous Fabre Museum as well as a big shopping centre. This is also where Moritz and I went last time during our snowy visit as we stayed in the Pullman Hotel attached to the city centre.
The beach – Palavas les Flots
From the main station, you can take one of the colorful trams and then change into a bus to go to the Palavas les Flots, which is a little half-island on the coastline.
Here me and my friend went for a little walk on the beach, had a refreshing drink and ate a delicious crêpe.
Overall impression of the city
Since I had seen all the other major cities in the south of France I was intrigued to come back to Montpellier to see what it’s like. While it is definitely a lovely city with its own charm, I have to admit that I prefer both Nice and Marseille more. Nevertheless, I had an enjoyable day in Montpellier and also loved going to the beach for a short while.