Montpellier is a city located in the south of France. It is not a seaside location, though it is located only 10 short kilometers from the Mediterranean Sea, but Montpellier has all the historic charm of its seaside neighbors as well as all the history and culture of France’s bigger inland cities. Visitors in Montpellier will delight in the variety of art galleries and museums, which showcase the city’s history from the ancient churches which once ruled the city to the street art that now adorns its walls. Those looking for a bit of a stroll can walk along the old aqueduct, or shop in a local market for fresh food or a bottle of Languedoc wine, and if good food is the objective, Montpellier has got that covered as well, with amazing restaurants located in old bathhouses and relaxed pubs with cheap, delicious drinks.
The tall, rounded turret towers out front and its overall Gothic architectural design make Cathédrale St-Pierre look more like a medieval castle or fortress than a church in some respects, but this impressive Roman Catholic cathedral is actually the seat of the Archdiocese of Montpellier. Cathédrale St-Pierre was first opened in the mid 16th century, and it’s one of the largest churches in the region. Visitors can tour the cathedral both inside and out to catch a glimpse of its stunningly beautiful interior space, or attend mass to hear the incredible acoustics.
Rue Saint-Pierre, 34000 Montpellier, France, Phone: +33-4-67-66-04-12
2.Promenade du Peyrou
The Promenade du Peyrou, or the Place du Peyrou as it is also sometimes called, is a beautiful city square and walking area that feature a historic water tower and part of an ancient aqueduct. Visitors can view the impressive statue of King Louis XIV on horseback, and take photos from the base of the intricate arc de triomphe at the entrance to the square. The water tower, with its stately pillars and wide sweeping staircase, is built in the classical style, as is the aqueduct that extends from it. The Promenade du Peyrou is a lovely place for sightseeing as well as relaxing, and is a favorite spot among locals.
34000 Montpellier, France
3.Chateau de Flaugergues
The Chateau de Flaugergues was built in the 17th century, and in the French architectural world, it is known as one of the “Follies.” At the time, a new class of aristocrats began to emerge based on their service directly to the king, and with the wealth and titles bestowed upon them, these new aristocrats went into the country and built grand houses out in the rural countryside, surrounded by intricate gardens. Chateau de Flaugergues in particular is a beautiful building with lovely hedged gardens and parks, as well as a fully functioning vineyard which produces wine from vines which have been cultivated since the time of the Romans.
1744 Avenue Albert Einstein, 34000 Montpellier, France, Phone: +33-4-99-52-66-37
4.Place de la Comedie
This large public square is located quite centrally in the city of Montpellier, and is located directly over the site where part of the city’s fortifications once stood. Locals who live in the city often refer to Place de la Comedie as L'Oeuf, which means “the egg” in French, due to the square’s oval shape when it was originally built. Today, this public area is proudly marked by a statue of three goddesses, The Three Graces, and on most days, La Place de la Comedie is often full of local street artists creating and selling their wares, tourists wandering the area, and plenty of people enjoying a drink or some food on the streetside terraces of the cafes which line the area.
Place de la Comédie, 34000 Montpellier, France, Phone: +33-4-67-60-60-60
5.Bois de Montmaur
Bois de Montmaur is a large public park near Montpellier. For active people, it can be difficult to find a place to go for a run or get some exercise while on vacation, especially when you’re in a place where the incredible food and wine makes you feel less like exercising and more like partaking in another glass of Bordeaux. But Bois de Montmaur has a plethora of beautiful, scenic trails that are perfect for running, cycling, or just a relaxed walk among the trees and green space. Bois de Montmaur is located a bit outside of the city center but is accessible via Montpellier’s city bus system.
Chemin du Réservoir de Montmaur, 34090 Montpellier, France
6.Carre Sainte Anne
The city of Montpellier experienced a period of huge economic growth during the 19th century, largely in part to the growth of the wine industry, and it was during this time that the Carré Sainte Anne was built. This beautiful church has a distinctive appearance and a loud bell which can be seen from its tall tower and heard all over Montpellier. Carré Sainte Anne is no longer an active church, but it has been lovingly renovated to become a contemporary art museum. At Carré Sainte Anne, visitors will find cultural displays and exhibits from local and traveling artists, in a unique and beautiful space that is a veritable host for events and art festivals throughout the year.
2 Rue Philippy, 34000 Montpellier, France, Phone: +33-4-67-60-82-11
The Musee Fabre is a museum named in honor of Francois-Xavier Fabre, the man who founded the institution in 1825. Francois Xavier Fabre was a painted, and the museum he created would go on to serve as a cultural institution and haven for works of fine art. Located in the center of the city, right alongside the main square, the Musee Fabre is one of the most popular sightseeing destinations in Montpellier, and the collection at this museum is so impressive and significant that Musee Fabre has been named a Museum of France by the French Ministry of Culture. The museum’s collection features a number of extremely well known artists, and it is not a destination to be missed.
39 Boulevard Bonne Nouvelle, 34000 Montpellier, France, Phone: +33-4-67-14-83-00
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Enjoying a meal in the plush purple-upholstered seats of Les Bains’ dining room is both relaxing and delicious. The fine dining room has elaborate chandeliers and is situated around the perimeter of a courtyard, and has large windows that overlook the courtyard, where guests who prefer outdoor seating can enjoy their food and drink in a scenic garden terrace environment, complete with towering palm trees, scenic ponds, and lush greenery. Les Bains was once a public bathhouse, but these days, the historic building has a fantastic menu that focuses on Mediterranean and Italian inspired foods.
6 Rue Richelieu, 34000 Montpellier, France, Phone: +33-4-67-60-70-87
9.Porte du Peyrou
The Porte du Peyrou is a grand triumphal arch located in the Jardin du Peyrou in Montpellier. This beautiful piece of architecture was completed in 1693, and it was modeled to look like the stunning Porte Saint Denis, which is located in Paris. The Porte du Peyrou is a beautiful landmark in Montpellier, and it is a great place for a quick photo opportunity. It is located along the Promenade du Peyrou, so visitors can explore the surrounding park and scenic area as part of their daily sightseeing activities. Visitors can also opt to take a guided tour of the arch, which will allow them the opportunity to climb the 90 steps to the top and see Montpellier from above.
Rue Foch, 34000 Montpellier, France, Phone: +33-4-67-60-60-60
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After a long day of checking out the museums, monuments, and sights of Montpellier, Le Rebuffy is a fantastic option for a casual evening out. Le Rebuffy opens each day just before lunch and serves coffee, but transitions into a relaxed bar setting in the evenings. This dive bar bears the distinction of having loads of personality. The decor relies heavily on the motif of a pink elephant, which can be spotted in the form of wall art, stuffed animals, and in sculpted form hanging from the ceilings and windows. In fact, locals call the bar “The Pink Elephant.” There’s indoor and outdoor seating, as well as some of the cheapest drinks in the city.
2 Rue Rebuffy, 34000 Montpellier, France, Phone: +33-4-67-66-32-76
Every city in the world is made up of a collection of distinct neighborhoods, each with their own flair and unique personalities. The Antigone neighborhood in Montpellier is one of the most famous in the city, and it is known for the unique architecture that fills the district. Antigone was once largely consumed by army barracks, but in the 1980s, an architect named Ricardo Bofill took on the district and redesigned it from top to bottom, using neoclassical Greek architecture as his inspiration. The result is a number of sweeping, uniquely shaped buildings with larger than life architectural features. Exploring Antigone means checking out the Polygone shopping center, and wandering the squares and circular promenades to find boutiques and restaurants.
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Halles Castellane is a local market located near city center, which sells mostly food and local products. Halles Castellane a great place to shop for a pastry to fill you up and serve as a quick breakfast, or buy some fresh produce, meat, or seafood to take back to the Airbnb for dinner. Food and produce is available on a seasonal basis, but the mild climate of Southern France, combined with the sheer volume of vendors means there’s always a great selection. There’s also local wine sellers, which sell local and regional wines from the Languedoc region, and whose product make for great souvenirs.
8 Place Castellane, 34000 Montpellier, France
Sure, it’s always easy to buy a “Montpellier” magnet or a few postcards to keep as mementos of a trip to France, but there are plenty of other, more useful, and much more creative souvenirs to be found. At Odysseum, a massive shopping center in Montpellier, visitors can find clothing and apparel, accessories, home goods and decor, beauty and health supplies, and food, all in one convenient place. Some of the other amenities available to visitors at Odysseum include a movie theater, a seasonal ice skating rink, and even a light rail train station right in the shopping center that will take passengers to other parts of the city.
2 Place de Lisbonne, 34000 Montpellier, France, Phone: +33-4-67-13-50-50
La Panacée is the destination in Montpellier when it comes to contemporary art. At La Panacée, they focus on every aspect of art, from its creation and the techniques behind it to the display and showing of it. Part of the larger art collective MOCO, La Panacée focuses on emerging artists, and their space is large and, as one might expect, sleek and modern. At La Panacée, visitors can come and view exhibits entirely for free, or even take part in a class or workshop to hear from established artists and gain some inspiration for creating some of your own.
14 Rue de l'École de Pharmacie, 34000 Montpellier, France, Phone: +33-4-99-58-28-09
15.Jardin des Plantes
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The French have always been known for their landscaping prowess, so when in Montpellier, le Jardin des Plantes is definitely worth a visit. This historic botanic garden is nearly five centuries old (it was established in 1593), and was founded by Henri IV. The space features an orangery, a traditional English garden (jardin Anglaise), an arboretum, and more, with a massive collection of herbal, medicinal, and naturalized plants, as well as flowers and plants from all over the world. The gardens are part of the University of Montpellier, and spending an afternoon strolling the paths and smelling the roses is a great way to pass the time.
Boulevard Henri IV, 34000 Montpellier, France, Phone: +33-4-34-43-36-20
16.Hotel de Varennes
The Varennes Hotel is a historic place, dating back to medieval times when it was first built. Over the centuries, the Varennes Hotel has been lovingly restored and renovated to its former glory, and today it is a unique mansion with Gothic style archways and halls. On the first floor of the building is the Museum of Old Montpellier, which tells the story and history of the area through artifacts, paintings, and documents which date back to the Middle Ages. The Varennes Hotel also houses several meeting spaces which are used for conferences and events, and is home to the University of Tiers Temps.
2 Place Pétrarque, 34000 Montpellier, France, Phone: +33-4-67-34-70-00
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17.Aqueduc de Castries
For 6,822 meters, the Aqueduc du Castries stretches and winds through Montpellier, originating in Castries park and gardens. From end to end, the aqueduct has a gradient of only three meters, and it was built at the behest of Rene Gaspard to carry water. It’s not as old as some other aqueducts out there in the world, but it is in remarkably good shape and is a scenic and iconic part of Montpellier’s history. There is a trail that visitors can walk and hike along that follows the aqueduct, which leads directly through the historic city center of Montpellier with an impressive and elaborately built section known as the Grand Arcs. The aqueduct is no longer in use, but it makes for some really striking photos and learning the history behind it—and visiting Castries where it originated—is definitely worth the visit.
3 avenue de Montpellier, 34160 Castries, Montpellier, France
18.Chateau de la Mogere
The Chateau de la Mogere is one of the Folies, which was built in the 18th century by architect Jean Giral, for Fulcran Limouzin, one of the king’s secretaries. The front facade of the mansion is beautiful, with two stories of scenic windows and a triangular pediment above the center. The grounds are lined by hedges and dotted with stately, tall trees, with a gorgeous formal garden that features a massive fountain made of thousands of tiny seashells. The interior of the building has been kept true to its 18th century style. Visitors can tour the building and its grounds to step back in time and get a close look at what life was like for the French aristocracy at this time.
2235 Route de Vauguiéres, 34000 Montpellier, France, Phone: +33-4-67-65-72-01
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19.Esplanade Charles de Gaulle
Walking around and exploring the historic city center will almost undoubtedly lead visitors to Esplanade Charles de Gaulle, a lovely park in Montpellier. Here, the walk is shaded by tall, green trees, and lined with rows of cafes with inviting patios, or vendors selling ice cream and other goods. A bandstand offers frequent live entertainment, and horse-drawn carriages bring visitors through the park for a scenic tour. With three peaceful fountains and lush greenery all around, including several beautiful spots which are planted with decorative flowers, Esplanade Charles de Gaulle serves as a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of the city.
34000 Montpellier, France
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20.Musee du Vieux Montpellier
The Musée du Vieux Montpellier, or the Museum of Old Montpellier, is located on the first floor of the Hotel de Varennes, a building which, despite its many more recent additions, dates back to medieval times. Inside the Musee du Vieux Montpellier, visitors will find exhibits and displays with some incredible artifacts dating back to the Middle Ages all the way up to the 20th century. Some of these artifacts include furniture, weapons, paintings, statues, household goods, and even entire recreations of historic rooms, down to every last detail. Tickets are affordable, and discounts or free admissions are offered for some demographics.
2 Place Pétrarque, 34000 Montpellier, France, Phone: +33-4-67-66-02-94
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For nearly as long as humans have been alive, we have studied and strived to learn how human anatomy works. At the Musee d’Anatomie, there are over five thousand pieces and exhibits on display that aim to help teach visitors just that. The collection at this university-curated museum has been swiftly growing since it was first started in the 18th century, and today it showcases its collection of anatomical pieces and abnormalities, wax casts, and skeletons, embryos, and historic instruments that were once used in surgery. Visitors can call the school of medicine to request a guided tour of the museum’s collection; the Musee d’Anatomie does not have daily hours and is only open upon request.
Montpellier Centre, 2 Rue de l'École de Médecine, 34000 Montpellier, France, Phone: +33-4-67-41-74-00
The city of Montpellier is home to many art galleries and museums, but none are quite like the Montana Gallery, which is an art-focused gallery that specializes in street art and graffiti. At the Montana Gallery, visitors can decide for themselves what counts as “real” art, and whether the talented artists who create murals and pieces that people interact with every day have a place in the art world (hint: the Montana Gallery believes ‘yes’!). The art here, done by both Frnech and international street artists, is unlike any you’ll find elsewhere in the city, and indeed the work that the Montana Gallery has done to try and legitimize street art has led to its opening of ten galleries across the globe.
11 Rue d'Alger, 34000 Montpellier, France, Phone: +33-4-67-59-56-84
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23.Musee de l'Histoire de Montpellier
The Musee de l’Histoire de Montpellier is located in the basement of an old church called Notre Dame des Tables. The museum’s work is dedicated to documenting the history of the city of Montpellier, especially through the lens of the church’s history. The museum tells the story of the church as it was built, and its history throughout the centuries as well as its impact on culture in Montpellier. Until the French Revolution, Notre Dame des Tables was the political, cultural, and religious center of Montpellier, and though it was all but destroyed during the revolution, the museum showcases many artifacts and historic pieces of the church that have survived to today.
Place Jean Jaurès, 34000 Montpellier
23 Best Things to Do in Montpellier, France
- Cathédrale St-Pierre, Photo: Marine26/stock.adobe.com
- Promenade du Peyrou, Photo: nito/stock.adobe.com
- Chateau de Flaugergues, Photo: Marine26/stock.adobe.com
- Place de la Comedie, Photo: Fred/stock.adobe.com
- Bois de Montmaur, Photo: eshana_blue/stock.adobe.com
- Carre Sainte Anne, Photo: saiko3p/stock.adobe.com
- Musee Fabre, Photo: saiko3p/stock.adobe.com
- Les Bains, Photo: New Africa/stock.adobe.com
- Porte du Peyrou, Photo: saiko3p/stock.adobe.com
- Le Rebuffy, Photo: Wasan/stock.adobe.com
- Antigone, Photo: Marine26/stock.adobe.com
- Halles Castellane, Photo: Pictures news/stock.adobe.com
- Odysseum, Photo: Somkiat/stock.adobe.com
- La Panacee, Photo: dsalmo/stock.adobe.com
- Jardin des Plantes, Photo: Alizada Studios/stock.adobe.com
- Hotel de Varennes, Photo: issalina/stock.adobe.com
- Aqueduc de Castries, Photo: fovivafoto/stock.adobe.com
- Chateau de la Mogere, Photo: Cam/stock.adobe.com
- Esplanade Charles de Gaulle, Photo: acnaleksy/stock.adobe.com
- Musee du Vieux Montpellier, Photo: kinderkz/stock.adobe.com
- Musee d'Anatomie, Photo: Marine26/stock.adobe.com
- Montana Gallery, Photo: mehaniq41/stock.adobe.com
- Musee de l'Histoire de Montpellier, Photo: JethroT/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: saiko3p/stock.adobe.com