Is Montpellier Worth Visiting? 17 Reasons Why You Should!

I’ve been living in France for more than six years, but my first visit to this stunning country was in 2012.

Since then, I’ve traveled to some amazing places. From the sandy beaches in Marseille to the towering Beffroi de Lille, I’ve done it all.

But one city that captured my heart was Montpellier, so much so that I’ve visited several times.

This charming destination is often overshadowed by more popular cities in southern France like Nice. So, you might be wondering, “Is Montpellier worth visiting?”

The short answer is, yes!

It’s most known for its rich cultural heritage, but I found its museums, food, and architecture just as impressive.

In this post, I’ll share with you 17 reasons why Montpellier is worth adding to your itinerary.

Is Montpellier Worth Visiting? Here is all the reasons why you should add it to your travel bucket list.
Is It Worth Visiting Montpellier?

Is Montpellier Worth Visiting?

Yes, Montpellier is worth visiting!

Located in the beautiful Occitaine region of France, Montpellier is a city that blends ancient charm with modern flair.

At its heart is the historic Old Town, Écusson.

I spent hours wandering through its narrow streets. The white stone buildings were beyond elegant and the hidden passageways like Rue du Bras de Fer only added to its beauty.

This is the Escalier Arc en Ciel in L'Écusson. It's on a street called Rue du Bras de Fer. There are stairs going up a passage way and every step is painted a different color. Then there are triangle flags hanging from the top of the buildings. Each one is a different color. In the back there are people sitting at a cafe.
Rue du Bras de Fer

The most famous attraction here is Place de la Comédie, but I also loved the Arc de Triomphe and the Montpellier Cathedral.

Of course, I can’t talk about Montpellier’s historic center without mentioning the Promenade du Peyrou. This grand esplanade offers the best panoramas in town. And the views of the Aqueduc Saint-Clément are incredible.

Then there are the museums, particularly the art museums.

And Montpellier has quite a selection.

The Musée Fabre houses an impressive collection of paintings from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries while the Musée Art Brut has mostly modern pieces.

But my favorite was the Parcelle473. It first opened in 2022 and focuses on urban artwork. The exhibits were thought-provoking, engaging, and different from anything I’ve seen.

Last but not least are Montpellier’s markets.

From the open-air market in Place des Beaux-Arts to the covered Les Halles Castellane, each offers a unique experience.

So, if you want to get off the beaten path and explore a city rich in culture and history, then Montpellier should be on your list.

17 Reasons to Visit Montpellier

There are so many reasons to visit Montpellier.

From its gorgeous architecture to its lively markets, here are 17 reasons why you should.

1. Picturesque Old Town

This is Rue des Gagne Petit in the Écusson district of Montpellier. It's a paved street with tiny colorful flags hanging from the buildings. Then on the right there is a man sitting in a chair under an umbrella. He is in front of a shop that has lots of decorations and vines.
Rue des Gagne Petit

Montpellier’s Old Town, known as Écusson, is the historical center.

Over the years, it has preserved its rich heritage, with stunning landmarks and beautiful squares.

But what I loved the most about this area were the side streets. Everywhere I turned I found an empty street full of colorful windowsills and doors.

Some of my favorites were:

  • Rue des Gagne Petit
  • Rue du Bras de Fer
  • Rue Lallemand

The photo above is of Rue des Gagne Petit. I was exploring Place Saint-Paul and looking to escape a crowd of tourists. I turned down Rue des Gagne Petit and found this beautiful hidden gem.

It, actually, reminded me of the streets I saw in Marseille’s infamous Le Panier district.

2. Easy to Get Around

This is a photo of two trams in Montpellier. It's parked at Observatoire tram station. There are people getting on and off each tram and walking around.
Observatoire Tram Station

As the seventh largest city in the country, you might think getting from one place to another in Montpellier is complicated.

But I had no trouble finding my way around.

The city has a great public transportation system with four tram lines that cover the entire city.

While I usually prefer to walk, some attractions like the Parcelle473 museum are far from the city center. But using the tram made it a breeze to get there.

Montpellier also has a bike-sharing program called Vélomagg‘. It’s the most affordable and convenient way to explore the city on two wheels. And, with 50 stations around town, it’s easy to pick up and return your bike.

If you’re only visiting for a few days, using public transportation and renting a bike are great options to help you make the most of your time.

3. Amazing Street Art

This is the Trompe l'oeil on Rue des Étuves. It's a mural painted on the side of the building. It's meant to look like an apartment building with balconies and people standing outside. It looks life like and real.
Trompe l’Oeil on Rue des Étuves

One of the things I love most about exploring new cities is finding unique street art. And Montpellier did not disappoint.

The most impressive pieces were the giant murals that created an optical illusion or Trompe l’Oeil in French.

There’s one in Place Saint Roch.

Helpful Tip: If you stand on the steps of the Église Saint-Roch you’ll have an unobstructed view of the mural.

Then, there’s another in Place Edouard Adam on the side of the Pharmacie de l’Observatoire.

They both looked so real I almost walked past them and had to double back like I did when I visited the frescoes during my trip to Lyon.

4. Flavorful Food

This is the Aligot I ordered from Restaurant l'Aveyronnais in Montpellier. There is the aligot which is potatoes with melted cheese. Then, on top of it, there is a sausage. On the side there is a salad and a small cup of sauce.
Restaurant l’Aveyronnais

Montpellier’s food scene combines different dishes from all over southern France. There are also plenty of international restaurants.

But, since you’re in France, I recommend trying the local food.

One of the best restaurants I ate at in Montpellier was Restaurant l’Aveyronnais.

It specializes in traditional cuisine from the Aveyron department and is known for its flavorful dishes like Aligot.

Helpful Tip: Aveyron is a department within the Occitaine region.

So, of course, that’s what I took.

It was cheesy and tasty and paired perfectly with my glass of Syrah.

But if you’re a foodie, I recommend visiting Marseille. The food scene is far better than Montpellier.

5. It’s Walkable

This is Esplanade de l’Europe and its a pedestrian-only street. There is a street in the middle where people are walking. Then, on either side, it's surrounded by trees.
Esplanade de l’Europe is Pedestrian-Only

One of the best things about Montpellier is that it’s very walkable.

The city center is compact and easy to navigate, making it perfect to explore on foot.

There are also plenty of pedestrian-only areas, adding to the peaceful and relaxing atmosphere of the city.

To give you an idea, I walked from Jardin des Plantes to Esplanade de l’Europe, passing through Place de la Comédie.

It was a pleasant stroll, and I didn’t feel overwhelmed with cars or tourists.

If you prefer to explore the city at your own pace, then walking is the best way to get around. Plus, it’s a great way to soak up the local atmosphere.

6. Very Affordable

This was my room at Citadines Aparthotel in Montpellier. This is the living room. There is a couch, two tables, and two lamps.
My Room at Citadines Aparthotel

Most cities in southern France are expensive. But Montpellier is surprisingly affordable.

It’s easy to find budget-friendly accommodations, meals, and attractions.

On one of my most recent visits, I stayed at Citadines Aparthotel and paid less than €70 per night.

I also found that meals were reasonably priced, especially at local markets.

As for transportation, the tram and the bike-sharing option are inexpensive ways to get around the city. And since Montpellier is very walkable, you can get to and from attractions for free.

7. Fascinating History

This is the Arc de Triomphe in Montpellier. It's a large stone structure. It's square is a rounded arch in the center where cars can pass through. On top, there is the French flag.
Arc de Triomphe

Montpellier was founded in the 10th century and rose to prominence as a significant trading center in the 12th century.

Then, when the University of Montpellier was built, it became a beacon of medical scholarship and education.

Montpellier remained an important economic center until the 15th century when Marseille took over the role. Even then, it still flourished.

Under Louis XIV, it was dubbed the administrative capital of the Languedoc region.

Helpful Tip: After the French Revolution, it became the capital of the Hérault department.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, the city continued to thrive. Residents showed off their wealth by building landmarks like the Promenade du Peyrou and the Arc de Triomphe.

Today, Montpellier remains an important cultural hub, attracting artists, intellectuals, and tourists alike.

8. Place de la Comédie

This is Place de la Comédie. There is a Ferris wheel and a large stone building behind it.
Place de la Comédie

Place de la Comédie is the largest public square in Montpellier. It was established in the 18th century and named after the opera house (Opera Comédie) on the square’s eastern side.

At its center stands the iconic Fontaine des Trois Grâces, which features a statue of Aglaea, Euphrosyne, and Thalia.

Helpful Tip: The current statue is a cast. The original can be found in the Opera Comédie.

Today, Place de la Comédie is a focal point for social and cultural gatherings. You’ll also find tons of cafés and restaurants where you can enjoy the atmosphere.

I, personally, loved the architecture here. It has a certain elegance that other squares, like the well-known Place Kléber in Strasbourg, don’t have.

9. Fantastic Markets

This is the Comédie Market in Montpellier. There are several stands selling different things like fresh vegetables and flowers.
Comédie Market

I love browsing French markets and Montpellier has some of the best. In fact, you’ll find a whopping 42 open-air and covered markets around town.

One of my favorites was the one in Place de la Comédie.

This open-air market takes place every Monday and Saturday and offers everything from fresh fruit to second-hand books.

But if you want something more off the beaten path head to Place des Beaux Arts. It’s smaller but this is where the locals go, so, I would say it’s more authentic.

Then, my favorite covered market was Les Halles Castellane. It’s also a great place to grab a bite to eat.

10. Stunning Cathedrals

This is the interior of Église Saint-Roch de Montpellier. There is an aisle leading to the altar and rows of wooden chairs on either side. Then, behind the altar, is The most impressive a large stained-glass window above the high altar. It shows Saint-Roch standing in front of the Montpellier Cathedral.
Église Saint-Roch de Montpellier

Montpellier is home to some beautiful cathedrals.

The Cathédrale Saint-Pierre stands out among the others. It has a fortress-like appearance with two circular towers that guard the entrance. It was originally part of the Saint-Benoît monastery and elevated to cathedral status in 1536.

Helpful Tip: Cathédrale Saint-Pierre is also called the Montpellier Cathedral.

Then there’s the Église Saint-Roch. It had the most spectacular interior of the churches I visited in Montpellier.

The most impressive feature, in my opinion, was the large stained-glass window above the high altar. It shows Saint-Roch, a native of Montpellier, standing in front of the Cathédrale Saint-Pierre (photo above).

11. Tons of Museums

This is the interior of the Musée Fabre. It's a room with paintings on the side and back walls. In the center there are benches where people can sit.
Musée Fabre

Montpellier is a treasure trove of cultural institutions, and its museums are second to none.

There’s the Musée Fabre.

It was established in 1825 by the painter François-Xavier Fabre and is most known for its paintings from the Renaissance to the modern era.

From the outside, I thought it looked very unassuming, but once I stepped inside, I was blown away by the sheer size of the collection. I spent three hours wandering around and could have easily stayed longer.

Then, if you’re looking for something different, there’s the Musée Art Brut and Parcelle473.

The Musée Art Brut showcases works that highlight the concept of art brut or raw art, while Parcelle473 showcases urban art.

I visited both and appreciated the unique and thought-provoking pieces on display. It was a refreshing change from the more traditional art museums.

12. Beautiful Architecture

This is the Arbre Blanc. It's a tall white building with balconies sticking out of it. In the foreground there are flowers.
Arbre Blanc

There’s no denying that Montpellier has an impressive collection of architecture. From the Promenade du Peyrou to Place de la Comédie, there are so many stunning examples.

But it’s not only the historical buildings that are impressive. Montpellier also has some modern architectural gems.

Most are in the Antigone and Port Marianne neighborhoods.

And, of all the beautiful buildings, my favorite was the Arbre Blanc or White Tree.

It features balconies that are haphazardly placed around a bright white façade. And because they stick out it has a unique sci-fi look (photo above).

Most of the building is residential but there’s a restaurant, and, on the top floor, a bar with spectacular views.

13. Welcoming Locals

This is a photos of locals enjoying lunch in Montpellier.
Friendly Locals

One of the things that stood out to me about Montpellier was its welcoming and friendly locals.

Despite being a big city, the people here are warm and happy to help visitors.

They were always eager to share their knowledge about the city and recommend places to visit or eat.

And, for someone like me, an American, I know my personality is more outgoing, which can be overwhelming in some parts of France. But, in Montpellier, it was happily welcomed.

In one instance, I was browsing Les Halles Castellane and asked one of the vendors if I could photograph her amazing display of produce. She not only said yes but also struck up a conversation with me about cooking and local recipes.

14. It’s Safe

This is a photo of Rue Lallemand. I took it when I was exploring Montpellier before sunrise. I felt completely safe walking around and taking photos by myself.
Exploring Rue Lallemand Early in the Morning

One of the things I love most about Montpellier is that it’s a very safe city.

I never felt uncomfortable or worried walking around.

I used public transportation, visited crowded tourist areas like Place de la Comédie, and explored the city at sunrise and after dark.

I used common sense and took the necessary precautions like never carrying large amounts of cash. But those are things I do in every city I visit.

So, if you’re looking for a safe destination, Montpellier is a great choice.

15. Jardin des Plantes de Montpellier

This is Jardin des Plantes de Montpellier. It shows a part of the garden that is completely covered in trees and plants. In the distance you can see the roof of the greenhouse.
Jardin des Plantes de Montpellier

The Jardin des Plantes de Montpellier was founded in the 16th century and stands as the oldest botanical garden in the country.

Over the centuries, it has expanded and now covers over four hectares.

It’s home to an impressive collection of plants, many of which are native to the region.

But what I loved most was how peaceful it was. There are walking paths, benches, and lush gardens scattered throughout.

I spent a sunny afternoon here just enjoying the beauty of it all like I did when I visited the Jardin des Plantes in Amiens.

16. Jaw-Dropping Landmarks

This is Aqueduc Saint-Clément. It goes from the bottom left of the photo to the middle of the photo and in the distance you can see rooftops and trees.
Aqueduc Saint-Clément

Montpellier has some truly jaw-dropping landmarks, each with a unique history and style.

Of course, the Cathédrale Saint-Pierre and Place de la Comédie top the list, but that’s not all.

There’s the Promenade du Peyrou.

It features tree-lined walkways, and, in the center, there’s a statue of King Louis XIV. Then, on one end, there’s the Arc de Triomphe, on the other, there’s the Château d’Eau and the Aqueduc Saint-Clément.

Last but not least is the Faculty of Medicine. This is the world’s oldest medical school. It’s also home to the Musée et Conservatoire d’Anatomie. And since it’s next to the Cathédrale Saint-Pierre it looks like one gorgeous structure.

Helpful Tip: To visit the Musée et Conservatoire d’Anatomie, you’ll have to make a reservation with the tourist office.

17. Château de Flaugergues

This is the living room in Château de Flaugergues. There are tables, chairs, and cabinets. There are pictures on the walls and there is a lamp in the corner.
The Living Room in Château de Flaugergues

Château de Flaugergues was built in the 17th century by wealthy merchants. And, contrary to what the name suggests, it’s not a castle.

In fact, its architecture is not even its most impressive feature.

Instead, it’s the gardens and the beautifully preserved rooms.

To visit the château, you’ll need to make a reservation. There are a few ticket options, but I booked the château and wine cellar tour.

The tour was engaging and very informative. I learned about the history of the estate and Montpellier, and the different types of wine from this part of France.

Conclusion: Is Montpellier Worth Visiting?

Montpellier is one of the most culturally rich cities I’ve been to in France.

It blends old-world charm and modern-day vibrancy in the best way. Plus, there are so many reasons to visit.

From its stunning architecture to its lively markets, there is something for everyone.

I, personally, loved the art museums and the old town. And the food was delicious.

So, now that you know it’s worth visiting, it’s time to start planning your itinerary.

Read More Articles About France

I hope you enjoyed my post and found it helpful. Here are some other articles that I think you might find interesting.

Jen Ciesielski
Jen Ciesielski

Jen Ciesielski is the creator of Dabbling in Jet Lag. She has lived abroad for over ten years, traveled to more than 50 countries, and speaks French and English fluently. Her areas of expertise include moving abroad, learning languages, and travel planning. Originally from the United States, she now lives in France, where she has been for more than six years. She has also traveled extensively around the country. She shares her experiences as an expat living in France and helps thousands of people plan their trips every month.

Articles: 147