Top French Cities - Montpellier at a glance

Press release

For more information, visit the Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole Tourist Office & Convention Bureau at

City region: Pyrénées-Méditerranée / Occitanie

Population & what they are called: 279,845 inhabitants (2014 census), called Montpelliérains

Access from Paris:

  • by road: about 7 hours (465 miles) via the A71 and A75 autoroutes

  • by train: about 3 h 30 min by TGV from the Gare de Lyon

Famous native daughters & sons:

  • Auguste Comte, a founder of sociology

  • Rémi Gaillard, prankster

  • Jacques and Laurent Pourcel, twin brother and chefs

Most distinctive and/or unique fact or trait (or little known fact):

  • Montpellier is the second most important city in France for learning French as a foreign language, with around 20 FFL language courses teaching 10,000 students a year.

  • With more than 10 shops, Montpellier is one the leading city in France for violin-making.

Notable sites:

  • Ecusson – the historic center and France's largest pedestrianized zone, a maze of medieval alleys that open out onto large plazas like Place de la Comédie, Place de la Canourgue and Place du Peyrou

  • Cathédrale Saint-Pierre – a former Benedictine chapel, built in the 14th century

  • Faculté de Médecine – the oldest still-active medical school in the Western world, with an anatomy museum and the first botanical garden in France (

Top annual events:

  • Les Estivales – a friendly chance for encounters over local wines, tastings and books, every Friday evening from from late June to early September

  • Festival Radio France et Montpellier Occitanie – summer festival of classical music and jazz with about 150 events, most of them free (

  • Festival International des Sports Extrêmes – a competition for amateurs and professional involved in extreme sports – inline skating, BMX, skateboarding, mountain biking, wakeboarding and scooters (

Most notable museums:

  • Musée Fabre – with nearly 800 major works on display, this museum has among the leading fine arts collections in Europe (

  • La Panacée – a contemporary art center encouraging art inspired by multiple disciplines (visual, written and digital) (

  • Montana Gallery – exhibition space is dedicated to the art of graffiti (

Culinary specialties:

  • grisettes de Montpellier – small honey and liquorice candies

  • pavés Saint Roch – artisanal delicacy made from crushed almonds, a thin paste of candied orange peel, cocoa and spice

  • oysters – whether from Villeneuve-lès-Maguelone just 6 miles away or from Bouzigues, near Sète, 20 miles west

Local wines & spirits:

  • Les Grès de Montpellier – a wine with deep red color and an aromas of red fruits

  • Coteaux du Languedoc AOC wines — the biggest vineyard in France with a large number of grape varieties


  • Marché des Arceaux – a farmers market located under the Aqueduct down from Place Royale du Peyrou

  • Marché du Lez – a new place to see and be seen, with a farmers market, flea market, street artists and more

  • Odysseum – a prime leisure and shopping centre, with more than 100 boutiques and a wide range of leisure activities (

Most popular night spots:

  • Le Rockstore – a concert venue set in a deconsecrated and converted church

  • Los Parigos – a wine cellar and tapas bar in the old town

  • La Chistera – one of the liveliest bars in the city with an expansive beer selection

Local population’s favorite activities (or hangouts):

  • Jardin des Plantes – the oldest botanical garden in France, founded in 1593

  • Esplanade Charles-de-Gaulle – adjacent to the Place de la Comédie, a wooded promenade much loved by locals, as well as location of the Pavillon Populaire, an exhibition space

  • Pierresvives – a concrete ship-shaped building designed by architect Zaha Hadid as a multi-cultural meeting point with a multimedia library, sports center, exhibit gallery and an amphitheater

Local industries:

  • technology – IBM and Dell both have large offices, with IBM using its factory as its European showroom

  • health – the world number two ophthalmology company, Bausch & Lomb, is present following its purchase of Laboratoire Chauvin, as is Horiba Medical, builder of automated medical analysis devices

In Pop Culture:

  • Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (Le Parfum: Histoire d'un meurtrier) by Patrick Süskind – a best-selling exploration of the sense of smell and the power that scent has over people and emotional meaning

  • Inspector Bellamy (Bellamy) – a French crime drama directed by Claude Chabrol and starring Gérard Depardieu as a well-known Parisian inspector who becomes involved in an investigation while on holiday.

  • Battle of the Year – a 2013 film about dance battles, starring Josh Holloway

About Top French Cities -

Top French Cities is an association of 29 cities, from regional capitals like Bordeaux to important towns like Avignon and Versailles. They are perfect for young travelers, families and anyone else looking for fun and authentic French experiences that will fit their budget. Most of these cities are university towns with a youthful atmosphere, but all of them reflect the heritage and distinctive flavors of the regions to which they belong. Many are forward-looking too, with historic buildings repurposed to house contemporary art and activity centers like Les Docks in Marseille. Many have created or integrated new, modern museums to contrast with their classical, architectural heritage, like in Nimes, where the cutting-edge Museum of Roman Civilization (Musée de la Romanité) is located across from the historic Roman amphitheater, or in Nantes, where whimsical mechanical creatures are being created, or in the UNESCO World Heritage Site concrete city of Le Havre.


Marion Fourestier
Atout France-The France Tourism Development Agency