France’s 8th largest city and its third largest city on the Mediterranean, Montpellier is home to around of quarter of a million people.
Montpellier is one of the few large cities in France without any Roman heritage and only really came to prominence as a trading centre in the 12th century. After the reformation it became a protestant stronghold and was besieged by King Louis XIII. Under Louis XIV, the town became regional capital with grand buildings constructed.
Nowadays, Montpellier is an important education centre with around one third of its population being students at its 3 universities and other higher education institutes. Tourists are drawn here for its beautiful architecture, relaxed cafe culture, excellent shopping opportunities, pleasant summertime weather and modest gay scene.
For gay rights in France, please see our Gay Paris City Guide page.
Due to the big student population, Montpellier is full of young open-minded people. Attitudes here are so liberal that there are some that call Montpellier France’s second gay city after Paris.
Montpellier is home to several gay venues, mostly concentrated in the historic centre of the city. Here you will find Gay Bars, Gay Dance Clubs, Saunas and a Cruise Club catering for locals and visitors alike. There is a popular Pride festival in July.
Montpellier–Méditerranée Airport (MPL) or Fréjorgues Airport is located 7km southeast of the city centre. It is the tenth busiest airport in France with flag carriers and budget carriers travelling to European and North African destinations.
A shuttle bus (line 120) takes you from the airport to Place D’Europe where you can connect to the public transport network in 15 minutes. It departs Monday to Sunday from 9am until 11.15pm. Singles cost €1.60 but you can get transfers on the public transport network for another euro. Tickets are purchasable from the driver.
A taxi into the city centre will take 20 to 40 minutes depending on traffic. Journeys will cost between €26 to €38 depending on time of day, number of passengers and amount of luggage as supplements apply for bags. It is best to book in advance to get the best rate.
Gare de Montpellier-Saint-Roch is one of the south of France’s major rail hubs. It is well connected to most French cities and even offers some connections to the Alps. It has international connections to Barcelona, Madrid and Geneva.
Montpellier is a relatively compact city and exploring it by foot is a delight. The weather is pleasant most of the time and most sites are close to each other. You will only need public transport if travelling further afield.
By public transport
Montpellier has an integrated public transport system of busses and trams that get you from A to B. One way tickets cost €1.40 and are valid for an hour. A 24 hour travel ticket costs €3.80. Tickets can be purchased from machines at the stops or from the bus drivers. You must remember to validate your ticket.
The trams run until midnight (1am on weekends) and during peak hours come ever 3 to 5 minutes. This shortens to every 15 minutes in quieter hours. Bus services are regular during the week but noticeably infrequent on Sundays. There is a night bus service, L’Amigo, that takes you to the nightclubs on the outskirts of the city centre.
Compared to other cities it is quite hard to actually hail a taxi from the side of the road. It is best to pre-order a taxi in advance. Most restaurants, bars and hotels will be happy to order a taxi for you. Always discuss the price of the journey before setting off and remember that evenings, weekends and public holidays are always more expensive.
For some of the best hotel selections, visit our Gay Montpellier Hotels page.
La Place Royale du Peyrou – a beautiful tree-lined esplanade with a Triumphal Arch as its centrepiece. Built in 1692, guided tours take you up the 103 steps to the top of the arch. At sunset the whole area is bathed in golden sun.
Les Jardin des Plantes – originally established in 1593, this beautiful garden is a perfect spot for a romantic afternoon stroll. It is maintained by the University of Montpellier and has a wide collection of plants for amateur botanists to admire.
Montpellier Cathedral – impressive Roman Catholic building constructed in the gothic style. It was heavily damaged in the 16th Century’s conflicts between catholics and protestants before being rebuilt in the 15th century.
Place de la Comédie – the focal point of Montpellier. Here you will find the opera house, a beautiful statue of the Three Graces and a plethora of cafes, bars and street artists. It is a perfect spot to people watch.
Musée Fabre – established in 1825, this museum went under a multi-million euro refurbishment in 2003, finishing in 2007. This museum was deemed of national importance and displays important French and international work from the 15th century up to the 20th century.
Antigone – a neighbourhood situated just east of the city centre and a haven for architects. Designed by the Spanish architect Ricardo Borfil, this area has a whole host of cafes, restaurants and bars to relax in as you take in the neoclassical architecture.
Spring is probably the best time to visit as the weather is very pleasant and does not reach the unbearable highs that quite often happen in summer. Winters are cool and crisp with temperatures averaging around 11 degrees which is pleasant compared to destinations further north. In summer the city sees a massive influx of tourists.
There are a variety of cultural events in the Montpellier calendar. Cinemed is the second largest film festival in France (after Cannes) and is held every October. The Festival de Radio France et Montpellier is July’s classical musical festival and is very popular. July also sees Montpellier’s annual gay Pride celebration.
France is a Euro area country. Cash dispensers are widely available. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted. Hotels, banks and some local businesses also operate foreign exchange desks.
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