Things to do in Montpellier, France

Things to Do in Montpellier, France

The South of France is lined with sunny, beautiful Mediterranean cities that make the perfect day trip and weekend destinations. I spent one of my most memorable trips traveling west along the Cote D’Azur via bus and train with my best friend. We made a two day stop in Montpellier, and although I wasn’t expecting to, I fell in love with this French destination. Planning for a day in this gem of a city? Read on for the best things to do in Montpellier…

Place de Comedie in Montpellier, France
Place de la Comédie - Montpellier, France

A Gem in the South

Vibrancy and Splendor to Be Discovered...

Montpellier is a lively and well-kept city. It’s also a wonderful place to escape the flocks of tourists that fill many of France’s southern destinations like nearby Nice and Cannes. An added plus – Montpellier has an excellent tram system that makes getting around a breeze, but the city center is also small enough to easily access on foot.

Things to do in Montpellier, France
Arc de Triomphe - Montpellier, France

But despite its more laid-back demeanor, Montpellier is full of things to do and see. The city has a huge student population and the vibrancy of a university city. The blend of historical and contemporary architecture makes Montpellier a cultural gem.

Discover the Ins and Outs of the City

Getting into the Center

The city center’s compactness makes getting around on foot effortless. To get to the center of town hop on the tram. The system is very clean and incredibly efficient. When I was there in the summer 2019, they were renovating many of the stations. There are stops near major bus drop off points and right by the main train station. 

Explore, explore, explore

Of the best things to do in Montpellier, wandering the beautiful city fabric is the way to experience the sights and splendors of this town. You could spend an entire day exploring the city on a self-guided walking tour, but these are some spots you won’t want to miss.

Place de Comedie in Montpellier
Place de Comedie in Montpellier

Place de La Comedie

This is the perfect place to hop off the tram and soak in the upbeat vibe of the city. Place de la Comedie is a bustling plaza with beautiful Beaux Art architecture, including an Opera house, fountain, and a wide array of cafes to people watch from. There is also a Monoprix here – a convenient location to pick up any necessities before starting a day of exploring.

Place de la Comédie - Montpellier, France
Place de la Comédie is always humming with life

L'Ecusson

My favorite part of any city is discovering historic Old Town. L’Ecusson is Montpellier’s historic city center and it is filled with beautiful pedestrian streets. Find the Place des Martyrs-de-la-Resistance. This node in the historic center is a great place to stop before breaking off into the network of charming side streets. Beautiful storefronts, boutiques, and cafes line these narrow walkways. From my two days in this city, walking these polished stone streets was the most memorable experience for me.

Backs street in Montpellier, France
Backs street in Montpellier, France

Saint-Roch

Right in the heart of old town, the Church of Saint-Roch is a beautiful example of French Gothic Revival architecture. Moreover, by night this area comes to life and is brimming with lively bars.

Church of St. Roch - Montpellier, France
Things to do in Montpellier, France

Take in the Food

Les Halles Castellanes is a lovely covered market to explore for a glimpse of the local life and regional food. And I should mention, eating and drinking is certainly a notable thing to do in Montpellier! Particularly in L’Ecusson, you will certainly not go hungry. It is filled with Michelin star restaurants amongst other more casual eats.

Montpellier - Restaurants in Historic Old Town
Backs street in Montpellier, France

It’s nearly impossible to not certainly stumble upon several excellent restaurants just by wandering the streets. I remember vividly wanting to eat at about ten different places we walked by! I am not typically one for expensive meals, but exploring the gourmet culinary scene is high on the list of notable things to do in Montpellier. And of course, be sure to try the regional Languedoc and Gres de Montpellier wines!

A Special (Un-Sponsored) Shoutout

And speaking of eats I have to mention Empanadas Club. While yes, this is an Argentine specialty – this restaurant has created a wonderful Latin and French fusion. If caprese or Nutella and bananas empanadas don’t sound like France wrapped in pastry dough, then I don’t know what does….

Revel in Rich Arts and Culture

Musee Fabre
Montpellier's Musee Fabre

When it comes to cultural things to do in Montpellier, there is no shortage of wonderful museums and historical landmarks. Montepellier’s Pavilion Populaire is a modern photography museum that is free to the public. It is absolutely worth a stop in (if only to escape the heat!) There are rotating exhibitions of artists from France, and around the world.

The Fabre Museum is one of France’s biggest art museums. The collection features some of Europe’s best paintings and sculptures from the Renaissance and Enlightenment eras, as well as impressionism, fauvism, and the Beaux-Arts style. Renoir and Delacroix, two of my favorite painters are featured here. And for a dose of modern art, be sure to visit La Panacee.

La Tour de la Babote
La Tour de la Babote
Chateau D'Eau, Promenade Peyrou
The Chateau d'Eau at the Promenade de Peyrou

And if architectural history is right up your alley, then Montpellier cathedral, the Saint-Clement Aqueduct, the Chateau d’Eau and La Tour de la Babote are wonderful glimpses into Montpellier’s past as a fortified city. Not to mention, if you find yourself craving some greenery amidst the hardscape of the city – visit Jardin des Plantes de Montpellier, the city’s botanical garden.

Botanical garden in Montpellier, France
Montpellier's Jardin des Plantes

Explore the City By Night

For those in search of after-hours things to do in Montpellier, come visit the Promenade du Peyrou once the sun goes down. The Aqueduc Saint-Clement is a beautiful 18th-century aqueduct here, and the Chateau d’Eau is the park’s crown jewel. Why come at night? The landmarks are lit up blue! Bonus thing to do if you visit on a Sunday: visit the flea market that takes place at the promenade!

Promenade Peyrou
Promenade Peyrou

I found the beauty of this city to be even more moving by night. It is certainly worth a stroll through Montpellier after the sun has set. There is something about the lights and the glowing outdoor restaurant seating on every street, big or small, that makes for a vibrant pulse of life.

Place de Comedie in Montpellier
Montpellier at night is truly a spectacle

These Streets Are Waiting For You...

Although mere photos and words certainly don’t do it justice, I hope you get a glimpse of Montpellier’s rich history and wonderfully eclectic urban fabric. Come with an appetite for adventure. Montpellier’s streets are begging to be explored!

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Things to do in Montpellier, France

Montpellier, France - Pins
Montpellier, France - Pins
Montpellier, France - Pins
Charlena
Charlena

Hi! I’m Char 🤗 I’m a lover of all things travel, art, and design. You can find me jumping at any chance to dance, drink wine, or learn a new language. When I’m not designing buildings – you can find me drawing, painting, writing, or planning my next adventure. There is nothing more I love more in this world than discovering new places, people, and culture. Drop me an email and say hello! I’d love to be adventure buddies!

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11 Comments

  1. October 12, 2020 / 8:47 pm

    What a beautiful place. I loved spending time in Nice in the south of France, so I’m sure I would enjoy Montpellier too. Love the architecture and the weather of course. The South of France is a lovely part of the country. My favorite thing here would be just wandering around those narrow streets of the old town finding unique shops and restaurants

    • Charlena
      Author
      October 13, 2020 / 5:21 am

      The South of France is paradise! I visited Montpellier right after visiting Nice – it has that lovely South of France charm but it was great to get away from the crowds in Nice and discover this little gem. And yes, nothing beats wandering those little French streets!

  2. October 12, 2020 / 8:59 pm

    Wow, Great Post. I have visited France but not explored Montpelier. This is such a helpful guide. It seems its a beautiful place. Lovely pictures. Will save this for future travel reference.

    • Charlena
      Author
      October 13, 2020 / 5:20 am

      Thanks for the love! I have been to France a few times now and I too have so much left to explore! Hoping you make it back over there soon!

  3. Denise
    October 13, 2020 / 12:23 am

    How have I missed Montpelier!? I have even changed trains there! Next time I’ll take a look around thanks to your wonderful post!

    • Charlena
      Author
      October 13, 2020 / 5:18 am

      It’s such a hidden gem! I had never heard about it until right before I planned my second trip to France! Definitely stop in – it is honestly one of my favorite cities in France, maybe just behind Lyon!

  4. Dorian
    October 13, 2020 / 2:31 am

    France is my favorite country in the world and I keep finding reasons to go back. My husband and I are planning a return trip next fall (if we can travel then), and I will definitely suggest that we look into Montpellier (or in place of) Paris. Thank you for this comprehensive guide!

    • Charlena
      Author
      October 13, 2020 / 5:19 am

      Montpellier is such a little gem! I have been to France 3 times now and I just keep finding more and more to discover! Hoping you and your husband are back over there in no time!

  5. October 13, 2020 / 5:23 am

    I absolutely love this blog! I had never considered visiting Montpellier, but after reading your post I’m adding it to my travel list. Also, your pictures are stunning.

  6. Falke
    October 13, 2020 / 5:35 am

    Wow the architecture is so beautiful! I’ve spend so many summers in France and for some reason I’ve never been to Montpellier! I definitely gotta change that!

  7. October 13, 2020 / 11:49 pm

    Oh I love Montpellier! Thanks for sharing this.

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