There are many great travel destinations in south of France. However, the beautiful city of Montpellier is a particularly great place to visit for a weekend trip. It is certainly among the most exciting. Located in southern France, near the Mediterranean coast in Occitanie, it is home to one of the world’s oldest universities, dating from 1220. The young, fast growing city is constantly abuzz. From wandering the narrow streets of the historic center of Montpellier, to browsing vintage shops. From sipping cocktails with locals to relaxing in the clear waters of the sandy beaches. Here are some of the best things to do to spend the perfect weekend in Montpellier.
How to Get to Montpellier from Paris
The train is the best way to get there from Paris. With excellent TGV high-speed links, you can reach Montpellier train station in just over three hours from Paris.
There are several daily direct trains and more requiring one change. There are also flights from Paris to Montpellier, lasting 75 minutes.
How to Get Around Montpellier
Montpellier is a great walking city and it also has a comprehensive tram system. Single tickets are 1.60€, a packet of 10 trips is 10€ and a 24 hour pass is 4.30€.
Where to Stay
For a unique and stylish accommodation in the heart of Montpellier, La Mas de Lafeuillade is the perfect place.
Found within a verdant historic park near the Antigone district, the boutique hotel occupies a former wine merchant’s villa. The spacious rooms are each individually decorated with design items, modern art and mid-century furniture. This hip spirit is carried over into the luxurious bathrooms. It also has an excellent restaurant, popular with a chic local crowd, which serves creative seasonal cuisine in an inviting dining room or in its quiet terrace overlooking the gardens.
If you want to leave the planning to others, you could take guided walking tour and get an overview of the sights while learning about the city’s rich history.
If you’re looking for a relaxing day trip from Montpellier, explore a nearby Medieval village and experience a wine tasting with a driver and wine expert as your guide.
Exploring the Old Town
Any Montpellier itinerary should start with the city’s most famous square and favorite meeting point, la Place de la Comédie, home to lively cafes, the 18th-century “Fountain of the Three Graces,” and elegant buildings like the 19th-century opera house.
From here you can venture up rue de la Loge to discover the old town, called l’Ecusson, but beforehand you can take a little detour to nearby Coldrip Food and Coffee if you’d like a takeaway coffee for your stroll.
Take rue Foch to find Montpellier’s Neoclassical Palais de Justice courthouse and the city’s own Arc de Triomphe. The historic monument was constructed in at the end of the 17th century in honor of Louis XIV’s military victories.
Beyond this is the Promenade du Peyrou, a pretty park with a statue of the Sun King, the Château d’Eau monument, shaded benches and beautiful views of the historic Saint-Clément Aqueduct, the Cévennes Mountains and the Mediterranean sea on the horizon. For more greenery, take a leisurely stroll through the adjacent Jardin des Plantes, France’s oldest botanical garden.
Cool Cafés, Vintage Shops and Concept Shops
Afterwards embark further into the maze of narrow Medieval streets of the Old Town to track down the beautiful architecture of the city’s imposing Cathedral St-Pierre, founded in the mid-1300s. If you’re ready for lunch, close to the Montpellier cathedral is Le Petit Jardin, where you can nibble on bistronomic cuisine in a beguiling garden. Alternatively, weave through the cobbled streets of the historic city center to la Place de La Canourgue, a square featuring a modern garden of wildflowers and surrounded by ideal lunch spots such as Napoléon Dynamite.
The Old Town doesn’t stop here, the area above the shopping street Grand Rue Jean Moulin has more charming pedestrian streets. You’ll stumble upon the picturesque Square Sainte-Anne and Saint-Roch, both presided over by ancient churches and cafés which might beckon you for apéritif.
Local Food, Festive Restaurants or Street Food
Montpellier offers a wide range of dining from gastronomic to budget-friendly street food. Sample chic local food within the gorgeous courtyard of Les Bains de Montpellier, a 18th century former bath-house. Enjoy contemporary cuisine, cocktails and a festive ambiance at Les Momes. Book a table at Le Paresseur for farm-to-table bistronomy or savor an intimate romantic dinner at the garden restaurant of Le Mas de Lafeuillade (see where to stay).
If you’re looking for a casual drink or bite in the company of locals, head out to Le Marché de Lez, a revamped industrial area in the south of the city home to pop-up shops, street food stands and lively bars.
Beaches, Flea Markets & Quirky Modernism
When the weather is nice, partake in the favorite Sunday activity of Montpelliérains, a day at the beach. There are a number of beautiful beaches nearby. The closest is Carnon Plage, situated only 13 kilometers away and reachable via public transportation (tram line 3 ).
If the beach isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other great things to do in Montpellier. Located next to the historic quarter, the curious Antigone district is worth discovering. In the 1980s Catalan architect Ricardo Bofill created an idealistic district, with housing, shops and large public squares, reflecting ancient Greek architecture. Antique fans might prefer to go back to the Promenade du Peyrou for the Puces du Peyou, the city’s weekly flea market.
Brunch, Museums & Riverside Strolls
Whether you’re having an early lunch or getting a late start, Montpellier has some fantastic brunch spots including Nina Café, a hip venue using only fresh seasonal ingredients, or Les Demoiselles de Montpellier, a cute tea salon specialized in vegan and gluten free cuisine.
If you have extra time in the afternoon, Montpellier is home to one of France’s best art museums outside of Paris. The Musée Fabre displays 800 artworks by international artists like Rubens, Delacroix and David within a former palace, and a neighboring mansion, the Hôtel Cabrières, houses its awe-inspiring decorative arts collections.
If you’d like to learn more about the history of Montpellier, pay a visit to the Musée du Vieux Montpellier which has exhibits from the Middle Ages to the 20th century.
Or if you’d prefer to take in some green spaces, you don’t have to go far. There is a bucolic promenade along both sides of the Lez River. You can either walk or bike it and the path goes past the Marché de Lez, in case you didn’t visit it the day before!
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