The beautiful landscape, contemporary architecture and rich cultural scene of Montpellier merge with the typical bonne vie of the Mediterranean, and of course, the character of southern France: sun, sea, cuisine and local wine. Explore the city streets on the new trams, decorated by fashion designer Christian Lacroix, or wander through the medieval lanes full of intriguing shops. Be blinded by the colours and tempted by the aromas in the Les Arceaux market, and stop to try one of the many gourmet restaurants. And if you need to get away from the hustle and bustle, just a few miles away you’ll find beaches, vineyards and nature reserves to escape to and relax - or have a go at some adventure sports.
Main City Paris
Surface 56.88 km²
Density 4,46 hab/km²
Montpellier is home to the oldest functioning faculty of medicine in the West. And all because of a seventeenth-century feudal lord, Guilhem VIII, who decreed that everybody had the right to study medicine in Montpellier, regardless of their religion or cultural precedence. The faculty was established within a medieval monastery and papal palace, and has a library containing 5.6 miles of shelving laden with medicine books, and an incredible conservatory of anatomy with over 5,600 historical items, of inestimable artistic value. It can also claim famous scholars such as Nostradamus and Rabelais, who studied under its vaults.
Lovers of architecture have an ulterior motive for visiting Montpellier. Away from the old quarter toward the south-east of the city are three places to marvel at: Antigone, Les Rives du Lez and Port Marianne. Antigone was designed by Ricardo Bofill in a neo-classical style reminiscent of Ancient Greece, in which explorers come across copies of Greco-Roman statues such as Victoria of Samotracia or Zeus. Jean Nouvel also left his mark, on the impressive new city building in the form of the Port Marianne blue rhomboid. Some of the world’s best architects have given these three suburbs a unique character, and they are now a Mecca for fans of contemporary urbanism.
The nerve centre of Montpellier, and the point where the old town meets the more modern side of the city. The lively square is full of cafés and terraces, and actually in the shape of an egg, which gives it its local nickname L’Oeuf. In the centre is one of the city’s emblems, the Three Graces (Aglaia, Euphrosyne and Thalia) a fountain by sculptor Étienne dʼAntoine, and on its edges are two temples of culture, the Ópera Comédie and the Ópera Berloz inside the impressive granite building the Corum, by the architect Claude Vasconi. La Place de la Comédie is a great starting point for a cultural tour of the city.