This capital of the Languedoc-Roussillon region in Southern France could easily give Marseille a run for its money. With a laid-back ambiance, wide elegant streets and grand and graceful architecture, it is every bit as exotic and alluring as its glamorous neighbour.
Roaming the streets uncovers historical gems like the Cathedral Saint Pierre, the beautiful L’Ecole Medicine and the neo-classical architecture of the Antigone District. An afternoon in the Musee Fabre art museum or the Les Jardin des Plantes botanical gardens is one well spent, particularly on a coastal summer day.
Stroll along the tree-lined Esplanade where outdoor restaurants and cosmopolitan cafes make the perfect rest-stop after a little haggling in the nearby food and fashion markets. Families can take their young ones to the Parc Zoologique too see the wonderful animals or to the exotic humidity of the Serre Amazonienne palm houses where giant spiders and a bat cave will keep them amused for hours.
Take coffee in the Place de la Comdeie and admire the magnificent 19th century Opera House after a day spent lounging on the lovely Palacas les Flots or Carnon beaches. The fabulous Musee Fabre boasts a beautiful collection of works from the 17th century to the present day while La Panacee is the place for more modernist exhibitions.
Shoppers have many delights at their fingertips from the mainstream shops of Gallerie Lafayette, and classic French labels Lacoste and La Compagnie on Rue Saint Guilhem, to the lively covered and colourful markets of Rue de la Loge and Les Halles Castellane where mouth-watering local produce is plentiful.
Evenings in Montpellier mean fine wines and delectable French cuisine; art house films and hip bars – in short all that one would expect from a rival to Marseille’s cosmopolitan crown.
The following information is correct as of February 2015 and is subject to change. Please check with the airline directly for complete accuracy.
Montpellier-Mediterranee Airport is located 4 miles from the centre of Montpellier. The journey by car takes approximately 10 minutes. A shuttle bus runs between the airport and the city centre to coincide with arriving and departing flights and taking just 15 minutes to reach the city centre.
What you need to know
Currency: The Euro (€)
Visas: EU and UK nationals do not require a visa to enter France. A passport valid for three months beyond the date of departure is required, or in the case of EU nationals, a valid ID card. Nationals of other countries may require a visa to enter France. More information can be obtained from a local embassy or the Foreign Office website.
Laws: A ban on smoking in all indoor public places is in force across the country. This includes cafes, bars, restaurants, clubs, wrokplaces and all public transport. The legal age to purchase alcohol is 18. Those 16 and under may drink wine and beer when in a restaurant and under the supervision of an adult.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Montpellier is from March to May when the weather is pleasant but not too hot and tourist numbers are lower than in the summer months. Summer is high season with more expensive flights and larger crowds coming to enjoy the 26 degree plus temperatures. If swimming in the sea is one of the sole reasons for visiting, then June, July and August are the months for you. Autumn is short but beautiful with balmy weather and quiet streets. Winters are crisp and clear and mild enough to enjoy an alfresco coffee.
The Festival Chrétien du Cinema brightens up January while April’s allure lies in its food and wine festival. May brings extreme sports in the form of wakeboarding, BMX, inline skating and skateboarding as well as the popular Children’s Festival. Summers in Montpellier are filled with comedy performances, dance festivals, Chinese art and wine tastings while the Mediterranean Film Festival heralds the start of the autumn. Christmas markets announce the arrival of winter with their cinnamon aroma and twinkling lights.
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