In this first video tour of the South of France, we’ll explore the thriving city of Montpellier! Montpellier is located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, just 200 kilometers (125 miles) northeast of the border of Spain.
The city is well known as a summer holiday destination, but Montpellier is also very attractive to visit off-season as well. Because of the mild climate it never gets too cold, and every year a winter holiday market is held in the city. Culturally there’s also a lot to see and do in the city, from museums to beautiful architecture. When it comes to shopping Montpellier definitely has a lot to offer, as the city boasts many boutique stores and big department stores. Lastly, Montpellier is also a student city, so the nightlife is very diverse. In this article we’ll expand on the Montpellier video tour and show you what Montpellier has to offer during the milder days of the year!
Explore the Area Around the Place de la Comédie in Montpellier
The Opéra Comédie in Montpellier
The tour kicks off at the well-known square, the Place de la Comédie. This is the main square of Montpellier, and it’s often considered to be the heart of the city. The square is named after the Opéra Comédie, which is located at the southwest side of the square. Directly facing the Opéra is the Three Graces Fountain, which is over 200 years old. Around the square you’ll find many cafes and restaurants with outdoor terraces where you can enjoy a glass of wine while overlooking the square. In wintertime the Place de la Comédie is turned into one big Christmas Market. To the northeast of the square you’ll find the Esplanade de Charles de Gaulle, which is a nice small park.
Discover the Musée Fabre
One of the galleries in the Musée Fabre in Montpellier
Right next to the park and just two blocks north of the Place de la Comédie is the Musée Fabre. Founded by the painter François-Xavier Fabre in 1825, the museum has now become one of the largest in the South of France. The museum displays artwork from the 17th Century to the 20th Century, and even has a gallery promoting modern art. The museum was recently completely renovated, and the result is definitely something to see. The Musée Fabre is open every day of the week except on Mondays, and the general admission price for the permanent collections is just 6 euros.
Shopping at the Polygone
If you’re up for an afternoon of shopping after soaking up some culture, the large shopping center Polygon just east of the Place de la Comédie is the place to go. The Polygon houses several global brand stores such as H&M and Zara, but also features many great French fashion stores. Probably the best known of these is the Galeries Lafayette department store, which has its famous flagship store in Paris.
If you want to be able to quickly drop all your newly acquired things at home before heading off into the city again, why not stay in a vacation rental apartment in Montpellier? By staying in an apartment you’ll have much more space, and you’ll be able to feel what it’s like to live in Montpellier like a local! You’ll also be able to prepare your own French cuisine in your vacation rental apartment, which can save you a lot of money on restaurants!
Head into the Ecusson: Montpellier’s City Center
Old French architecture in Montpellier’s Ecusson
The Ecusson is the historical city center of Montpellier. The city center boasts many great French boutique stores, fantastic restaurants, cute cafes and lots of cobblestoned winding streets. One of the main streets of the city center, Rue Foch, leads west to Montpellier’s own Arc de Triomphe. The grand Arc is definitely a sight to see, as is the Promenade Peyrou next to the Arc. The Promenade Peyrou is the highest point of Montpellier, and as such gives you a great view of the surrounding hillside as well as the ancient aqueduct that leads here. To find out more about what to see and do in the city center, check out 48 Hours in Montpellier!
Shopping and Leisure at the Odysseum
The modern Odysseum in Montpellier
For lovers of more modern architecture, the Odysseum complex is a place to explore. The Odysseum was built in a new urban style, and combines a big shopping center with fun activities. As such, the building houses a large aquarium, a planetarium, a bowling alley, a rock climbing wall and an ice-skating rink in wintertime. Furthermore, the Odysseum houses stores such as H&M, Zara, Ikea and Apple. The complex also includes 16 different restaurants.
The easiest way to get to the Odysseum is to take tramway 1. Incidentally, the tram is a great way to travel around Montpellier, as it goes to all corners of the city.
Modern City Planning: Montpellier’s City Hall & Antigone
The Antigone neighborhood in Montpellier
For another display of modern architecture, pay a visit to the brand-new City Hall. Designed by Jean Nouvel, the contemporary glass building is loosely based on the Arc de Triomphe. The main hall, as well as the surrounding grounds, is open for the public to explore.
Antigone is an older but still quite innovative display of architecture. Architect Ricardo Bofill designed the Antigone neighborhood as one big project. The buildings in the neighborhood were designed in the neoclassical style, and feature grand columns and pediments. The Hotel de la Région was also based on the Arc de Triomphe, which is somewhat easier to recognize than with the new City Hall.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this small tour of Montpellier. Of course there’re still a lot of great places in the city we didn’t get to discuss here. What’s your favorite spot in Montpellier?