Montpellier, a city that will always hold a piece of us. This extravagant city in Southern France is full of things to do, views to see, and places to stay. Montpellier is my favourite French city, and below I’m going to tell you why.
So buckle in. Read our list of what to do in Montpellier, what to see in Montpellier and where to camp in Montpellier. And as a bonus, we’ll even give you a “what to see near Montpellier” section so that you know the best day trips from Montpellier city centre too!
What To Do in montpellier
Wander The city Streets
One of the beautiful things about Montpellier is its variety of style. From the old town to the new, get lost in the narrow streets and winding paths.
- L’ Écusson
Is the name of the old town, the most popular streets of Montpellier. The historic centre is shaped like a pentagon and is mostly pedestrianised.
This neighbourhood is more modern than the city centre and is well known for its extravagant architecture.
- Walk along the river
The River of Lez runs through Montpellier and from Antigone you can walk along the banks all the way to the beach (though, it’ll take some time).
- tourist train
If you prefer to explore the city streets, off your feet then the city’s tourist train is for you. This petit train will take you around the narrow windy roads of L’Ecusson without breaking a sweat.
Esplanade Charles de gaulle
While wandering the city streets, you’ll find many spots to sit down for a while, read a book and watch the world go by. Esplanade Charles de Gaulle is one of those great spots and is perfect for people watching in the sun. It’s also the location that the yearly Christmas and Summer festivals are held.
Montpeliers Summer festival. Filled with wine tasting, music and food this summer long festival runs on Friday nights and is not to be missed. We loved the Estivales atmosphere and made a point to go every week to soak up the vibrance and life.
Promenade du Peyrou
Another spot that we adore is Peyrou. The park is beautiful and the monuments are stunning. It’s the best place in the city to watch the sunset behind the monumental water tower.
Place de la comedie
The center of Montpellier. Place de la comedy is where friends come together for drinks and food, street artists perform, the trams connect and life just feels a little bit warm and fuzzy. There are a whole host of bars, restaurants and shops surrounding this beautiful fountain known as the Fountain of the Three Graces (Fontaine des Trois Grâces).
Montpellier is home to a wide range of different museums. There are museums focused on art, photography, history, medicine and more. The most famous museum, situated in the city centre, is the Musee Fabre. Founded in 1825 by a local painter, this art museum now features some of the grandest art pieces in France.
Lac du Cres
Just a short tram ride out of the city centre is this incredible lake. Perfect for running, walking, exercising and swimming, the lake covers 6 hectares of land. There are Playgrounds, Picnic areas, Skate Park, BMX track and toilets around the lake. It’s the ideal place to take children for a day out and enjoy a bit of nature away from the city
Montpellier is the perfect Mediterranean resort to enjoy a city and beaches. The 3 main beaches are La Grande Motte, Palavas and Carnon. Having visited all of them I can tell you that they are all vastly different and suitable for various things.
The beach at Palavas is a fun seaside day out with ice cream stalls and tourist shops. La Grande Motte is high end with fancy Paillots and seafood restaurants, and Carnon has a mixture of the two. It’s a little more luxurious than Palavas, but there are still plenty of activities for families, including a small theme park.
You can easily reach them without a car by taking the tram Line 3 to Perols Etang de l’Or and then walking or catching the shuttle bus.
Maison de La nature
The Maison de la nature situated in Lattes is an extensive nature trail. It is a protected natural site that stretches around the edge of the Méjean lake. Home to various flora and fauna, pink flamingos, turtles, storks and other animals and flowers.
It’s a place to enjoy nature and be educated on what we can do to protect these nature-rich landscapes. If you are looking for the best campsite to stay in, there are 3 campsites situated very close to the Maison de la nature: Camping L’Oasis Palavasienne, Le Lac Des Rêves and Eden Camping.
Aquarium and Planetarium
Montpellier is home to the planet ocean. Recently merged, this building used to be two separate activities. You and your children can explore the depths of the sea at this marvellous aquarium. There are more than 400 species available to discover here, and you can even meet the penguins.
And you can explore the planets too!
Whether your children are into the sea or the sky, they can explore the two together. Planet ocean is located at the Odysseum shopping centre and is easily accessed via car, bike or tram line number 1 from the city centre.
Also situated at the Odysseum shopping centre is this fantastic climbing centre. From beginner to expert, Altissimo is open to everyone. There are walls to suit all abilities and preferences. As long as you are over 6 years old, you can try your hand at any climbing walls. There is the possibility to take lessons as well as weekly courses.
This indoor ice skating arena situated at Odysseum is an excellent activity for children and adults alike. Whether you want to take on the professional Olympic track or the fun one, this ice skating centre is perfect for all.
Over at the north side of town, you’ll find the city’s zoo. Whilst there are plenty of animals to see on the outside, one of the unique things about this zoo is that It also features an indoor rainforest representing 7 climatic zones and habitats with an artificial rainstorm every two hours to simulate the rainforest environment. Inside there are more than 500 animals and 8,000 plants representing 300 species.
The zoo is free entry; however, the rainforest is paid for. You can get to the zoo by travelling on the Tramway line 1 to “Universités des sciences et des Lettres” and Then taking Shuttle B to the “Zoo” stop (or walking).
Jardin des Plantes
Back to the city centre, we have the stunning Jardin De Plants. These lovely gardens are a peaceful haven in a bustling city centre. These botanical gardens are maintained by the city’s university, and admission to them is free. The park contains about 2,680 plant species, including 500 native to the Mediterranean region.
Some of the grandest architecture is to be found at the city’s churches. Our favourites being The Eglise Saint Anne, Montpellier Cathedral, and Église Saint-Roch de Montpellier. The church Saint Roch is one of my favourites due to its nightlife. In the evenings, it’s not uncommon to see friends gathering on the steps to play music, laugh and joke and generally have a good time.
Marche Du lez
A unique place to visit is the Marche Du Lez. This creative haven is home to Brocantes, restaurants, cocktail bars, food trucks, skate shops and yoga studios. It’s a hippy paradise on the edge of the river.
This picturesque green space offers picnic areas, nature walks, playgrounds and access to the river. Perfect for a stroll in nature. The best time to see the parc is when the beautiful poppy meadow is in bloom.
Montpellier is home to some of the most beautiful street art in Europe. So much so that the tourist office even takes tourists on street art tours of the city. Ranging from graffiti tags to inspiring wall murals, you can find it all on the Montpellier streets.
But it isn’t just graffiti; Monsieur BMX is a street artist who attaches BMX bikes to the city walls. You’ll find them in many different locations around the town. My favourite piece of street art in Montpellier is this Trompe-l’œil.
Located in the Port Marianne district, this Miroir D’eau is a great splash area for toddlers. This shallow fountain which gives a mirror effect, is similar to the more famous fountain in Bordeaux.
What To Do Near montpellier
These day trips from Montpellier are a great way to explore the outer area and discover what the Sud de France has to offer.
Grau Du Roi
Just past La Grande Motte is Le Grau du Roi, a small sandy resort with a beautiful marina and protective seaquarium. The wildlife here is amazing and you’ll very likely see wild flamingos enjoying the ponds here.
Just next to The Grau Du Roi sits the walled town of Aigues-Mortes. The walls of the city are surrounded by salt marshes which are sometimes magnificent and bright pink. It is said that Aigues-Mortes was founded by the Romans back in 102BC. Unlike Montpellier, this walled city is filled with history.
Pic st loup
the Pic St Loup Mountain is located about 20km north of Montpellier. It’s a great place for families who enjoy hiking, but it’s also popular with families who love wine. Explore the mountains vineyards on one of the many tours offered via the Pic St Loup tourist office.
Saint-Guilhem-le-desert and the Pont du Diable
This picturesque village is at the heart of the Herault department. It’s a medieval village which meets the gorges of the Herault river and truly is one of the most stunning locations in the South of France. It’s no surprise the town has been classified as one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France (“The most beautiful villages of France”).
The nearby Pont du Diable, designated UNESCO World Heritages sites since 1999, is a stunning location and a lovely place for a picnic.
Pont du gard
Around 80km from Montpellier is the famous Pont du Gard. This ancient roman aqueduct was built in the first century to transport water. It has been a world heritage site since 1985.
This stunning piece of architecture is fascinating and beautiful. It really boggles the mind how such structures were built with such care and precision without the use of modern day equipment.
Sete is a lovely town just past Montpellier. It’s a seaside resort with a small port and has been commonly referred to as the Venice of The Languedoc. I like to think of it as the Cornwall of the south as it has a very strong cultural identity, far different from it’s neighbouring towns.
The best time to visit Sete is on the 25th of August as this is when the town holds its annual canal jousting celebration for its Patron Saint; Saint-Louis.
We were so lucky to accidently visit on that exact day and spent the afternoon watching the sport from the waterside.