Montpellier is a good choice if you are looking for a nice, short weekend city trip. The southern French city exudes a Mediterranean attitude towards life, offering everything a city traveller desires: a car-free city centre, medieval alleyways, creative shops and plenty of nice little cafés to take a break. There is an old town and a new town – magnificent historic buildings as well as modern architecture: the capital of the département of Hérault is a wonderful place to explore on foot.
Montpellier is one of France’s most liveable cities and in 2010 was on the New York Times’ list of the 45 cities most worth visiting in the world. The ideal location near the coast means that a visit can be combined with a short trip to the beach: the Mediterranean is just ten kilometres away. Very practical, considering that the sun shines in Montpellier around 300 days a year.
The Occitan region of southern France stretches from the Pyrenees to the Alps and from the Massif Central to the Mediterranean coast. Montpellier is the ideal starting point for exploring at least part of this very large region. The coastal towns of Sète and Grau-du-Roi are perfect for day trips to the Mediterranean. Continuing south along the Languedoc coast, there are plenty of lively seaside resorts with beautiful beaches to discover, such as Agde and Tamarissière. Castles, fortresses and medieval villages also shape the face of the region. Especially worth seeing – La Cité in Carcassonne, the largest medieval fortress in Europe.
The cuisine is as varied and excellent as the region is large. There are fresh vegetables and seafood, such as oysters and mussels, and also hearty dishes – all enjoyed with the finest wine. The saying “Living like God in France” does justice to Occitan cuisine. An aromatic bouillabaisse, a select charcuterie and a nourishing cassoulet promise pure moments of pleasure. A walk through a typical Occitan weekly market is not to be missed. Discover local products from the heart of Occitan at the Marché des Arceaux in Montpellier.
1. Start the day with a coffee at the central Place de la Comédie
2. Stroll through the winding alleyways of Écusson’s old town
3. Visit the impressive Gothic Saint Pierre Cathedral
4. Buy good cheese and other delicacies at the Halles Castellanes
5. Enjoy the magnificent view of the region on the Promenade de Peyrou
1. View the collection of paintings at the renowned Musée Fabre
2. Visit the La Panacée – a centre for contemporary culture
3. Enjoy a classical concert at the National Opera
4. Order culinary delicacies with live music at the Gazette Café
5. Explore changing art exhibitions at the Musée Art Brut
1. Hire a bike and ride the cycle route along the banks of the Lez
2. Ride the colourful designer tram straight to the beach
3. Climb the local mountain Pic Saint Loup (658m)
4. Plan a trip to the Méjean Nature Park in Lattes
5. Climb onto the roof of the Corum Convention Centre (great view!)
Title picture: © Fred / Adobe Stock (163886043)
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