Montpellier Tourist Activities
The airport serves the city of Montpellier and other towns in the Hérault department of France, and is the most important airport of the southern Languedoc Roussillon region. This region is rated as the third most popular for tourism in the country, as it’s attractions are popular with local and international tourists. From beaches to ski resorts, and from vineyards to rivers, this region has it all, and is visited by millions every year. Montpellier is the principle city of the Languedoc, the capital city of the Hérault department, and Montpellier Airport is the tenth busiest in France, with over 1.1 million passengers per annum. Montpellier attractions are virtually endless, and the city is considered as one of the liveliest in the south of France.
The Hérault department of France is one of the most popular in the country, and is inhabited by approximately 90,000 people, the majority of which reside in the cities of Montpellier, Sète and Beziers. The department covers a total area of around 6,200 square kilometres, and is characterized by sunny, sandy beaches alongside the Mediterranean sea, lakes, saltwater lagoons, rivers and mountains, and is visited by people from all over Europe. Other towns in the Hérault department include Cap D’Agde, Bedarieux, Clermont L’Herault and Pezenas.
The largest city in the Languedoc, Montpellier, has a very significant university, and a large number of students are part of the city’s every day life. Students come from all over the world to enrol at this university. Some of the other important buildings of Montpellier also include the Le Corum, an opera and convention centre, which is a good example of the city’s modern architecture, and the Faculty of Medicine, which was founded in 1220, and is the oldest in the occidental world. This school remains as one of the best in the country. The city’s vibrant atmosphere can especially be enjoyed at it’s main square, known as the Place de la Comedie, or locally, as ‘L’Oeuf’ (‘the egg’), due to it’s large egg-shape. Here there are dozens of buzzing bars and cafés popular for afternoon or evening outings. In general, Montpellier has a very active social atmosphere, and there are numerous night-clubs and discos which are frequented by the younger generation. In the 16th century, the city of Montpellier sustained serious damages during the wars of religion, and had to be almost completely reconstructed in the 17th century. It was at this time that many large mansions were built with stone staircases and balconies, and elegant courtyards. Some of examples of these buildings can still be admired, and include the Hôtel de Manse, Hôtel de Mirman and the Hôtel des Tresories de la Bourse.
Montpellier attractions most certainly include the wonderful stretches of beaches nearby, and the region’s warm climate add to their popularity. The golden beaches of the area are lapped by the Mediterranean sea, and are generally warm and safe for swimming and all kinds of other sea-related activities. A couple of private and public beaches are found nearby the city, and they include Palavas les Flots, Petit Travers at Carnon, Grand Travers at La Grand Motte, Espiguette at Le Grau du Roi and Aresquiers at Frontignan. Palavas les Flots can be reached by bus from the Port Marianne tram stop. A little tourist train also takes tourists to Villeneuve-lès-Maguelone, a 3,000 hectare nature reserve and a nearby beach. It’s visitors can enjoy the quite and beautiful forest, or take part in more adventurous activities, at the 4 hectare adventure park. For the whole family, Montpellier has a very nice zoo as well, with a wide variety of friendly (and not so friendly) animals. There are lions, bears, monkeys and anacondas, and a large outdoor enclosure for rhinos, leopards and cheetahs. A large variety of insects and other creatures of the forest are also found in the Amazonian greenhouse.
One of the most visited of Montpellier attractions is the Musée Fabre. It occupies the former Hôtel de Massilian, and houses an extraordinarily rich collection of art from all the major European schools of the last couple hundred years. There are works by Delacroix, Zubaran and Bazille, and one of the most important collections is that of Francois Fabre, hence the name of the museum. He was a painter who lived in the city of Montpellier, and he gave his works to the gallery in 1825. Further attractions include the oldest botanical gardens in France, with tropical greenhouses and beautiful landscaped gardens, the Cathedral of Saint Pierre, built in the fourteenth century, and which is classified as a national monument, and the Porte du Peyrou, a magnificent arch leading into the Jardin de Peyrou. It was built in 1693, and features inscriptions of four key events from the reign of King Louis XIV. An impressive Roman-style aqueduct dating back to the 17th century can also be found, and a farmer’s market is held here twice a week. Many more intriguing museums can be visited in the city, including the Musée du Vieux Montpellier, or the Museum of Old Montpellier, where one can learn more about the history of this popular city. Montpellier tours are available, and are a good way to see all the city has to offer.
Montpellier is the location for several famous festivals held at various times throughout the year. The International Extreme Sports Festival is very popular, with hundreds of extreme skateboarders, bikers and snowboard competitors. The festival is known as FISE and is free for all to enter. The International Guitar Festival is held in Montpellier as well, where the trendiest groups play everything from Chanson to jazz.
Find out more about Montpellier attractions at the tourist information desks, or visit one of the tourist offices located in the city.