- Mediaeval/modern melange
- Coast life
- Wine, history and song
Young, vibrant, prosperous, Montpellier in Languedoc-Roussillon basks in southern sunshine.
The university town is an attractive meeting of old – mansions, monuments, churches – and new, typified by the bold Antigone residential quarter. The vast Place de la Comédie, known as L’Oeuf, is a good starting point for a traipse through the Old Town’s winding streets. Whether you’re drawn to its artistic and architectural heritage or the varied gastro scene, this compact boom town is easy to love.
Spend a few balmy evenings square-hopping: start at the popular Place Jean Jaurès, then graduate to lesser-known charmers such as Place de Canourgues, Place St Ravy, Place Candolle and the lovely Place Sainte Anne. To explore the flipside to Montpellier’s mediaeval centre (l’écusson, or lou clapas in Provençal), hire bikes at Vill’à Vélo, 27 rue Maguelone (+33 4 67 92 92 67) and explore Ricardo Bofill’s extraordinary neoclassical Antigone development, towards the south-east of the centre, and the River Lez.
- You’re unlikely to need a cab, since these streets were made for strolling, and there’s a shiny tramway linking the station, Place de la Comédie and the Eighties-built new town, Antigone. But if you need one to get to the beach nightclubs, you’ll have to call, so ask the hotel, or try +33 4 67 92 04 55.
- Tipping culture
- A 15 per cent service charge is included in French restaurant and café bills by law; it is also usual to round up the bill or leave a few euros. Tip taxis 10 per cent.
- Packing tips
- Cobble-friendly sandals rather than stilettos. Proper sunglasses.
- Recommended reads
- The poems of Sète-born Paul Valéry, sometime Surrealist and namesake of Montpellier’s university of arts and literature. The Incomplete Husband by Ben Faccini.
- Look out for bourride de Sète, a local seafood speciality. Cassoulet is the regional dish of the Languedoc-Roussillon, of which Montpellier is capital. Tapas are big on Montpellier’s bar scene.
- Dialling codes
- Code for France: 33. Montpellier: 04.
- Do go/don't go
- The beaches are bustling in summer, when the festival season brings beats to the streets. Montpellier by no means shuts down during the rest of the year.