Why you really should visit Montpellier

I’ve noticed I write a lot about the things around Montpellier,  but not so much about the town we live in, so I thought it was high time to fix that.  We’ve only got three months left here (sob) and it’s making me cherish every moment we have in our little southern city.

montpellier comedie

Everyone who has ever been to Montpellier had loved it, though a lot of people skip it as it’s not on the traditional tourist route.  We’d heard good things so we thought we’d give it a try but,  if I take you back to when we first arrived in Montpellier, you’ll see that we weren’t initially sold.  It wasn’t quite as happening as Paris, it didn’t have the sophistication of Bordeaux and it wasn’t as charming as Aix-en-Provence.  But it was sunny and we kept being told it was an awesome place, so we stayed.

After a short while, what it wasn’t gave way to what it was. Montpellier is special.  It is very French in many ways but has its own unique vibe. It draws inspiration from Parisian chic and adds southern charm (complete with a cute accent).  It takes provencal tastes and add hints of Spain and flavours of North Africa.  Its architecture is a daring mix of modern innovation set amongst ancient buildings. It takes all that, sticks some palm trees in the middle and then covers it in sunshine. As you can probably tell, it’s grown on us a lot.

Montpellier’s greatest charm lies in its old town. An entire small town of walking streets where cars have to drive underneath the town to get from A to B.  Lining the streets are boutiques, restaurants, hairdressers, florists, boulangeries, patisseries and bars. These all sprawl onto the streets and multiple squares in summertime and welcome you into their cosy and deceptively large stony interiors in winter time.

Instead of hearing car horns it’s the bells of bikes and trams, people chatting and music that fill the streets; all day, every day. In the Place de la Comédie (main square) there is always music being played, on accordions, didgeridoos or even household items.  People are always dancing in the square, usually break dancing or some kind of theatrical mime/dance which you can’t help but stop and watch.

girl playing guitar in Montpellier

stairs montpellier

sunshine

people eating in the sun

sunny montpellier buildings

As a visitor there aren’t that many tourist attractions that you have to visit. There are a couple of great museums (which I haven’t visited yet – bad expat) but walking around the old town, shopping in the old shops, sipping rosé in the sunshine, eating tartes in the squares and then sitting on one of the fountains munching on macarons is enough to fill several days of joy.  For an area so small there are an enormous amount of restaurants, more than I could ever hope to try, but I am in the process of creating a page dedicated to the best things to eat, see and do as we speak.

Ok so lets talk about that sunshine.  Spring has just arrived but it’s already hitting 20 degrees.  Those photos (apart from the little train at the top, that was taken last September) were all taken today, in March. That is basically Montpellier’s sky, most of the year. Famous for having 300 sunny days per year while missing out on the ice cold “mistral” that sweeps through Provence regularly throughout the year, it’s rare to get a bad day here.

One of the reasons we shifted our wedding plans was because we decided we loved Montpellier, and we wanted to show it off to our friends and family too.  The good thing for me as I tend to go back and forth to London a lot is that Montpellier is a hop and a skip away. Easyjet flights are as little as £30 one way.  It’s also just over three hours from Paris by train (amazing considering how far it is. You gotta love French trains) Trains can be as little as £30 too, but they’re usually about £100 so you don’t see me popping to Paris all that often.

In conclusion, I am so glad we chose France’s eighth city to live in for a year. Have I sold it to you yet?

40 Responses to Why you really should visit Montpellier

  1. You had me at 300 days of sunshine! I know you’ll understand how much I miss that living in London. Although, I do appreciate the sun more more now than I used to! You live in a beautiful city – I know you’ll miss it!

  2. pollyheath says:

    This looks great, especially the sun. Sign me up!

  3. Why yes, you have sold me. And now I’m missing France big time. I always loved sunny days relaxing in the square with a pastry or some wine.

    • anna says:

      I guess we just have to consider ourselves lucky that we’ve had that opportunity. Living in France is such a lovely experience to be able to look back on and tell stories starting with: “one day, while I was relaxing in a square, nibbling on a croisant…”

  4. Sammy Dorn says:

    I am so glad you have written a post about Montpellier! I can’t believe it has 300 sunny days. That is amazing. I think I would love it

    • anna says:

      I’m glad you’re glad. I know, crazy huh? If it rains on our wedding day we’re officially the unluckiest people ever.

  5. Jenn says:

    300 days of sunshine? I’m totally sold!

  6. Carly says:

    Wow what a beautiful city you live in! Personally I love that it’s a little bit different than Paris, Bordeaux and Aix-en-Provence! It seems special in its own right! I bet you will really miss living there. I certainly hope to visit one day! And it’s so close to London!

    • anna says:

      Definitely Carly. I love each of those towns too and it was probably unfair to compare to start off with. France is just fabulous.

  7. Agness says:

    It looks so much like Brussels in summer. I would love to visit it one day. I really enjoy strolling down the street while listening to street performers.

    • anna says:

      It definitely feels very different to Brussels though maybe the main square with the performers and the restaurants outside, yeah I can see that. Brussels feels more like London to me but maybe that’s because it rained a lot more when I was there!

  8. Robert says:

    I’d love to visit Montpellier. In fact, I’m planning to visit a few places in France this year and it’s definitely on the list, so hopefully all goes to plan and I finally get there! Loving the new blog design, by the way :)

    • anna says:

      Yay! Do. I’m about to do a South of France itinerary so that might be helpful to you too. And thank you! My little baby’s getting a bit of a makeover at the moment.

  9. Susie says:

    It sounds like an amazing place to visit! In my wish list! :)

  10. Sara Louise says:

    I fell in love with Montpellier the first time I visited right after I moved to France. There was something about it that felt very real and ‘livable’, I always wanted to move there :)

    • anna says:

      …while we always wanted to move to a little village in Provence! But yes, it doesn’t always have the small baguettes and bicycles feel of a village it definitely is a very liveable place.

  11. Kate says:

    Don’t feel bad about not visiting museums, I’ve been here for almost 1 year and haven’t visited a single museum yet. Oops!

    • anna says:

      We walked to one the other day and contemplated going inside… but it was sunny so we got ice cream instead and sat on some stairs staring at people.

  12. Erika says:

    I’ve never been to Montpellier but I have always wanted to go and check it out! Everything that you listed sounds like it makes it a great place to LIVE! Paris is exciting and all, but it is noisy, crowded, and it’s easy to get jaded. Looks like you get a bit of city living, the sunshine, and pleasant sounds, too! :)

    • anna says:

      The whole area around there is just really different from Paris. Each of France’s parts is like a different French-speaking country which makes it really exciting to visit and explore. Yeah I think we got the best of both worlds down here.

  13. Erica Baker says:

    Stunning. I would absolutely love to visit. I loved visiting Paris but I think I may have to add Montpelier to my next visit.

  14. estherjulee says:

    montpellier looks lovely!! :) i’ve had paris on my list.. but i’ve always pushed it near the bottom bc everyone who has visited has said it was overhyped… but i would definitely love to visit other parts of france.

    • anna says:

      Oh I love Paris. I really do. I don’t think its overhyped although some things can be disappointing I guess. I would still keep Paris on the list, but maybe extend that trip and take a train down South too ;) The rest of France has an awful lot of charm and beauty all over the place. It’s an amazing country with a lot to offer.

  15. Montpellier sounds like such a charming place! I’ve wanted to visit ever since my friend studied abroad there a few years back. Someday I’d love to take a few weeks to explore the south of France, seeing as I’ve only ever been to Paris and the surrounding areas (although I’m going up north to Lille this weekend!) The picture you paint of Montpellier sounds so magical – you’ve definitely sold me on it!
    http://www.adelanteblog.com

  16. Emma Julia says:

    Sold! I’m loving that cars have to drive underneath, such a neat solution.

  17. AnthonyShock says:

    Wow! That looks so glamourous! Cheap to get to also, by the looks of it. :)

    Have you ever visited Nice, I’ve been wanting to visit there for a while. I think Montpellier might be competing a little bit here! :D

    http://www.anthonyshock.co.uk

  18. Imogen Hoare says:

    I’m really excited that I randomly came across your blog! I will be moving to Montpellier for my year abroad as part of my degree next year and I am pretty nervous about whether I will like it or not, I’m pretty anxious about it.. but it sounds like it’s promising! Are the people friendly there? I also hear it’s full of students… is this true? x

    • anna says:

      Awww Imogen that’s awesome! It’s a great place and it is full of students. Last year around September we were suddenly like: “Woah! Where did all these people come from?!” The people are really friendly and I think I would have loved to be a student there as there’s so much to do. I’m excited for you!!

  19. Marianna says:

    I LOVE living in Montpellier! By the way, right now there is a Linda McCartney Photo Gallery going on at l’Esplanade, I have visited twice because it was so good. Just saying, maybe to improve your expat reputation, ehm ehm… :)
    I posted a new article about dating french men, I wonder if you agree with what I wrote (?). And thanks for your comment on my website, I just saw it today!
    Cheers! :)

    • anna says:

      I saw the Linda McCarney thing and wondered whether it was worth going to! I hope it’s there when I get back now! Ooh I’ll go check out your French men post, that sounds interesting although I can’t reeeeally comment as I’m dating/marrying a Kiwi ;)

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