TO SEE | TOWN
If you could be in love with a city, it would be Montpellier for me. I could write an entire blog just about Montpellier if I lived there. The instant Mediterranean vibe, the historical centre with its narrow streets, the numerous, cosy squares hosting the best terraces, the countless cool restaurants and bars, and so much more. I love it!
Somehow I always enter Montpellier via the majestic Arc de Triomphe. Not a bad way to start your Montpellier visit. The Arc de Triomphe dates back to 1691 when it was built to honour the Sun King Louis XIV. The arch is an extension of the Peyrou Promenade with its remarkable water tower and statue of Louis XIV mounted on a horse. The terraces of Peyrou are well-known for the gorgeous view of the region. Coming from the Arc de Triomphe, I automatically continue on the Rue Foch, the royal lane of Montpellier. After passing the Palais de Justice, another historic monument, you will find lots of high-end shops in Haussmannian style buildings.
No shopping for me today, I prefer to start the day with a cup of tea at one of the lovely terraces of my favourite square “Place de la Canourgue”. Being the oldest square of Montpellier, this beautiful haven of peace and tranquillity is such a picture-perfect. It is exactly how I picture living in France: sipping my tea and eating a croissant under the rustle of the leaves, while listening to the French surroundings. Aaaah, c’est beau la vie! Continuing my way on the Place de la Canourgue, I pass the Fountain of the Unicorns (Fontaine des Licornes). My girl of 9 years old is completely into unicorns. So whenever she is with me, this is a must stop.
Clear blue sky
The fountain also gives me a gorgeous view of my next destination: Saint-Pierre Cathedral. Walking to the cathedral always makes me feel like the clocks have stopped ticking. All of a sudden the impressive cathedral rises in front of me. Saint-Pierre became a cathedral in 1536, after being the chapel of Saint Benedict’s monastery. It is the only medieval church that survived the Wars of Religion between 1562 and 1598. Two gigantic cylindrical pillars with a diameter of 4,55 meter mark the impressive portal of the main entrance. The facade goes very well with the clear blue sky in the background!
One thing I like so much about Montpellier is getting lost in the historical centre. I have visited the city countless times, but I still don’t know my way through the labyrinth of little streets. I don’t mind though, as I always come across new things. This is also how I discovered “Le Quartier de l’Ancien Courrier”. Situated between Place Martyrs de la Résistance and Place Saint-Roch, this labyrinth within a labyrinth will lead you to unique little shops and restaurants with teeny tiny terraces.
Even though Montpellier is quite a big city, the 7th biggest of France, you will still find enough places where the crowd doesn’t go. Walking through these quiet old streets of the historical centre always calms me down. If you take the time to look up, you will see beautiful buildings. Now and then I see a BMX bike popping out of a wall. Rather curious about what this could be, I soon enough discover this is the work of artist Monsieur BMX. Attracted by street art and graffiti, he decided to actually hang real BMX bikes on the old city walls instead of spraying it. They are everywhere in the city once you have noticed the first one.
Finally, I arrive at the meeting point of Montpellier: la Place de la Comédie. One of the eyecatchers of the square is the municipal theatre with its monumental façade. Hence the name of the square. If you’re not busy looking at people or listening to the street artists, you might want to take a look around you. The square is surrounded by the most beautiful 19th-century buildings. The great thing about this square that no cars are allowed, as in the whole historical centre. So you can stroll around all you like, absorbing the bustling city life. Yeah, life is good in the South of France. And even better in Montpellier!