When you think France you automatically think love and Paris. That’s pity – not the love part but that only city we let define our image of France is its capital. I love Paris and its cultural touristy things but there is a lot more to see in this huge European country. Paris may have Eiffel Tower, Louvre and dozen of other attractions popular among tourists but other parts of the country have as much if not even more to offer for those loving adventures.
Today we are going to take peak to France’s south coast and list 10 things to do in Montpellier. I was privileged to visit this charming city last year. Montpellier is more known among the local travellers and families who come to spend their holidays to the beautiful beaches. Everyone who prefers old town atmosphere, street art varying from graffiti to magicians or relaxed days on beach will fall in love with Montpellier.
10. Day trip to the beach
Take the scenic tram or bus to the beach and enjoy the soothing sea. At winter you will be solely by yourself whereas summer brings all the local tourists to take their part of the sunbathing and swimming. Both seasons are worth of visit and maybe pick up some pretty stones or seashell as souvenirs.
Maybe this is because I’m Finn and not used to visit endless white sand beaches but this really made me fall in love with southern France. Not many things are as epic as walking around empty endless beach and picking up beautiful seashells.
9. Roam around the old city
Start from the place de la Comedie and be ready to get lost (and to shop cheap shoes…) Stop for Nutella pancakes or to drink bear. Maybe visit some of the small galleries or drift to remote patio. Be ready to take photos because the old city is full of charm!
8. Graffiti Hunting
There is two ways of approach graffiti hunting… First one is just go for it. The old town and literally every other place in Montpellier is full of street art. Just keep your eyes open and remember to look up and down. Because some of the art is on ground while some of it is up on the roofs. You will never know what you can find.
The second way of graffiti hunting is more systematic. Go to the tourist information (or use Google) and take map with marked graffiti spots. Then just look like a real tourist and use the map to locate some of the best street art there is.
One of the specialties of Montpellier are the huge murals taking over the whole wall of buildings. These may be hard to find at first because often they are made to look real and as part of the city. However after a little searching you will get amazed.
7. Guided Tours
Montpellier is full of tours from free ones to pricey longer ones. Just go on the city’s tourism website or use google. I didn’t go to any while in Montpellier but heard a lot of good feed back of them. You will get to go in places normal tourist can’t get in. You can also try driving segway around the old city! I think there is tours for any kind of people so you will definitely find one perfect for you.
6. Musée Fabre
This huge museum has something to offer for everyone. Mainly “older” art works, known artists and local masterpieces. It will take hours to wander around and see everything. When I visited Fabre the art works at the end of museum didn’t get a lot of my attention because of the tiredness. Visiting here in two different days would be the best option.
5. Rockstore & Gazette
Concert place and club in the downtown Montpellier. I didn’t go inside while in the city because I’m not huge fan of indie music or partying. However even just seeing the door is must thing to do. Unfortunately I have lost my photo from this place but it’s easy to recognize. Half of car comes out of the wall above their front door.
Gazette is another place to spend your evening and find interesting nightlife. I fell in love with this cozy restaurant, cafe, bar right after stepping in for the first time. Everyone from babies to elderly people can spend time together and have fun. There was literally people from every age group. And at one point of the evening there was free dance lessons for anyone wanting to take part.
With this I mean a lot of things. The street arts filling up every free wall space you could possible imagine being in city like this. Colorful decorations and small boutiques. The performers playing instruments, dancing and entertaining passersby. Endless possibilities to get lost and never find your way out.
Don’t forget to look out for the graffiti and artsy bikes coming out of the walls. And don’t be scared to visit the small galleries and shops that you can find everywhere from the city’s small streets. Montpellier’s charm is hold in these places.
3. Tram, Tram, Tram
If I had to say my favorite thing from Montpellier it would be the colorful trams! Also if I had to share one surviving tip for Montpellier: never cross the tram lines… This is not for your own safety but rather tip to not get lost. The trams circle around the old town so if you never cross the tram lines you will never exit the old town. This way even if you get lost you won’t be totally in trouble.
There is several tram lines that have all their own design. For example blue tram with bird design and colorful one with funny images. The stops are always styled similarly to the trains passing through it. In addition of looking cool trams are cheap way of going around and see more than just the centre of Montpellier.
2. La Panacee
I live for free museums and modern art. La Panacee combines those two (and amazing buffet restaurant.) It may be hard to find and at least for me it took several tries to exploring around the old streets before spotting this small museum. Definitely worth of taking your time and trying to find it. The changing exhibitions are interesting and something different from the more normal museums. And did I already mention that it is FREE!
1. Wine & Cheese picnic
The last but not the least on my list is picnic. Go to local super market, buy some cheap cheese, wine or sweets and find beautiful place to have picnic. Maybe you should go to the beach or some of the lively parks. Where ever you decide to make your home, Montpellier won’t disappoint you. This city is full of life, funny people and charm. (Disclaimer: Don’t picnic on tram tracks like my photo seems to suggest…)
So have you ever been to Montpellier? Or have you even heard about this charming city? Any comments you have are appreciated like always…
So this was the first post of my returning Wanderlust Wednesdays series! I hope you liked it because there is more posts coming soon.