Montpellier is in Southern France near the Mediterranean and is a large modern center in Occitania, with a population in Urban Area of over 470,000 people. It is an ancient city and during the Middle Ages it housed the Court of Aragon, and the Crown of Aragon was the birthplace of James I.
The city was sold to the French in 1349. The University is one of the oldest in the whole of France, and students comprise around one-quarter of the population, making a wonderful trip to the city of Montpellier, France, a must for students from all over Europe.
For history students, the city is very interesting as it was once a walled city, and now only two towers survive. It was at its height during the 12th century as a trading center due to its proximity to the Mediterranean Sea. Jewish culture was prominent, along with Muslims, Cathars, and later Protestants.
The city’s faculties of law and medicine were established in 1220 by a Cardinal of the Catholic Church. In the 14th century, Pope Urban VIII gave the city a new monastery dedicated to St. Peter, and in 1536 the city had a Bishop appointed to them. In the 16th century, during the Reformation, many residents converted to being Protestants.
Much later in the 19th century, the wine culture thrived, due to a lovely sunny climate. The city became wealthy from growing vines until the 1890s, when a disease hit the vineyards. The city was growing rapidly at that time, due to an influx of immigrants, and it soon became France’s seventh-largest city.
The vineyards recovered, and today they attract many tourists annually, and the wine tours enable a wonderful trip to the city of Montpellier, France.
Another reason to visit is the two really large concert venues that hold many varied concerts. Also, the International Film Festival held in the fall is second only to Cannes Film Festival. The Festival offers long and short films.
Another festival is the Festival of Radio, a summer festival of opera and music. The good news for us is, that most of these events are free and held in Historic Courtyards.
Visiting the City.
When we plan to visit the city, it is important to take our walking shoes as it is quite a hilly city with narrow old cobbled little laneways.
The climate is typically Mediterranean with hot dry summers. Rain is more likely in fall and winter, so summer and spring are lovely times of the year to visit. When walking in the streets, there are some amazing restaurants and sidewalk cafes to visit.
Some of the Local Sights:
- Place de la Comedie, the Opera Comedie was built in 1838;
- Old Historic Hotels in the Historic Center of Montpellier;
- Visit Le Rue du Bras de Fer or Iron Arm Street, a Medieval street;
- The Mikveh is a ritual Jewish bath from the 12th century;
- Le Jardin des Plantes was founded in 1593 and is the oldest Botanical Garden in France;
- La Serre Amazonienne, a Tropical Rainforest Greenhouse;
- La Saint Pierre Cathedral from the 14th century;
- La Porte du Peyrou is a triumphal arch, built in the 17th century and the highest point of the city;
- La Tour des Pins, the remaining walls of the Medieval city;
- La Tour de la Babote is a tower modified to house an Observatory;
- Le St. Aqueduc Saint-Clement, built in the 18th century;
- The Antigone district housing project was designed by a Catalonian Architect;
- Very old houses Chateaux follies, build from 1700 to 1800.
Traveling to Montpellier, France.
There is a high-speed train linking Nimes to Montpellier. There are also plenty of not-so-fast trains for scenic trips to surrounding cities, including a city circle line that connects with the tram system at Gare St. Roch Station.
The railways also manage the large bike-sharing scheme which Velomagg started in 2007 that manages 1200 bicycles and 50 stations. This is great, as it enables us to hire a bike and ride around the beautiful countryside.
Montpellier is at the end of stage 11 and the beginning of stage 12 of the Tour de France. The city also has a large number of sporting teams and is the home to Open Sud de France tennis tournament, since 2010, and a host to EuroBasket 2015.
The University of Montpellier owns a large athletic stadium. So, most sports are represented in the city.
The distance between the city and the French Riviera is only 389 km, so we can jump on the train and visit the beach in Cannes. This is something that everyone wants to do and makes your visit to the city of Montpellier even more exciting by spending a day walking around Cannes and seeing the sites.
Cannes is very pedestrian-friendly, and we walked to Monte Carlo and saw the Royal Palace, and enjoyed a day on the Riviera. If driving from Montpellier to Nice, traffic is quite heavy, so allow plenty of time to get there. The train is stress-free and relaxing.
There are so many restaurants to dine in that it comes down to personal preferences. If we are looking for coffee and pastries, there is plenty to choose from, along with some fine dining experiences like Le Grand Arbre, Via Pila, and for the family Jolie Petit Italian, all centrally located.
There are also some excellent Chinese and Japanese restaurants in town, and some of the older narrow streets offer intimate dining opportunities,
Since 2001 the city has been divided into seven neighborhoods and each of them offers unique dining opportunities, especially the historical city center.
When planning a wonderful trip to the city of Montpellier, France, allow plenty of time as there is so much to do and see both in the city and in the surrounding areas, beautiful countryside, and gorgeous old buildings of great historical importance.
Although spring summer and fall, are the best seasons to travel there, winter in the region can be magical, especially when snow falls.
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