Montpellier is a booming town full of hip people and southern French charm all at once. It is a university town, with a third of its population made up of students. The University of Montpellier was founded in 1160, allowing it to claim the title of one of the oldest in the world. The town is located just 10km from the sea and is surrounded by some of the best walking trails in Southern France.
You could easily spend a week in this trendy town taking trips to the surrounding countryside and wandering the medieval streets at night. However, if you’re here for only a weekend, here are some highlights.
One of the by-products of a town full of young creative people and gorgeous bearded hipsters, is its wonderful artisan, handmade products.
Favourite pottery store where I bought lots of polka dot espresso cups! 500 Degrees
Eat & Drink
We ate a delicious meal at Les Fils à Maman, which was a favourite of the Montpellier friend I was visiting. Otherwise, if you’re in Montpellier for any amount of time I suggest visiting one of the many trendy wine bars in town. They all seem to be perfectly positioned on little squares dotted throughout the city. A perfect way to soak in the local atmosphere for an evening.
In addition to wine bars and restaurants, make sure to check out the large variety of markets in Montpellier where you’ll find artisan food products.
Wander the City
This walkable city is full of wonders and beautiful public monuments. Get lost in the Jardin des Plantes, 5 hectares of different types of gardens founded in 1593 in the centre of the city. The oldest botanical garden in France, the Jardin des Plantes was originally used by the faculty of Medicine for research. The garden has been considered as an official historic monument since 1992.
It’s worth checking out the Faculté de Médecine which is the oldest faculty of medicine still in use in the world. Wander up to the second floor and, if you dare, open the door to the beautiful library. As soon as you open the creaky door, all the students will look up at you. The awkwardness of the intrusion is worth it, it was, after all, a local’s advice!
St Pierre Cathedral
Nearby Hilltop Villages
The countryside just outside the city is rich with artisan products, beautiful hilltop villages, fantastic wine as well as varied mountainous walking trails.
If you like the look of a farm sign, feel free to drive down the dirt tracks of farms if they’re advertising their product. Some of the most delicious honey I’ve ever tasted came from Le Rucher de l’Estagnol located near the village of Saussan.
Upon entering the village you’ll notice Le Pont du Diable spanning one of the Hérault gorges. This Romanesque bridge dates back to 1028 and is registered as a UNESCO world heritage site in conjunction with the St James’ way to Santiago de Compostela in Western Spain. The bridge, built by monks, has impressively withstood 1000 years of torrential floods.
If you like pottery, visit St Jean de Fos where you’ll find many ceramic artist boutiques. The annual pottery market occurs on the weekend of August 6-7 and includes 60 artists.
View from Le Pont du Diable
Pic St Loup – Wine and Scenery
The Pic St Loup region just outside Montpellier are the vineyards in the shadow of the Pic St Loup mountain. The main varieties of grapes are Syrah, Grenache Noir, and Mourvèdre. The wines have the tell-tale alcohol and robust body of grapes that have had to endure high temperatures. However, the wines are also smooth. This region is best known for its red wines, but the whites are just as delicious. My favourite vineyards are Mas de L’Oncle and Domaine de L’Hortus. Go to the vineyards for a free tasting before or after you decide to climb Pic St Loup. Depending on your strategy… The climb only takes about 75 minutes depending on where you leave from. It looks daunting but I even managed it in a dress!
View from Pic St Loup
Have you ever been to Montpellier? What are your favourite things to do and see around Montpellier? Here are 10 things in Montpellier you should definitely NOT miss.
For more awe inspiring sightseeing in the South of France, check out 20 reasons to visit the south of France right now
Interested in a French cooking lesson while visiting the Languedoc region? Come join us at Cook’n with Class Uzès?