Montpellier in Languedoc-Roussillon is a thriving and modern city near France's sunny south coast that was voted one of the New York Times' 'Places to go in 2012'.
The capital of the Languedoc-Roussillon region, Montpellier is one of France's fastest growing cities and was the only place in France to get into the top 45 of the New York Times' 'Places to go in 2012'. Owing its riches in medieval times to its role as a trading centre in spices from across the Mediterranean, the city is also home to one of the oldest universities in the world - its college of medicine. Today, it is a vibrant city undergoing a revival with new districts such as the ultra-chic Antigone district where the designs are influenced by Greek motifs, 2 brand new tram lines with colourful exteriors that have been painted in flamboyant designs by fashion designer Christian Lacroix, and the excellent Odysseum shopping and leisure complex built in 2009.
Holding over 100 boutiques and brand name shops selling everything from fashion to furniture, Odysseum also hosts the Mare Nostrum Aquarium, which is home to lots of sharks, a giant squid and a 'storm simulator'; the Galileo planetarium; and the Végapolis ice rink - as well as lots of restaurants. A great place to spend the day at leisure, Odysseum is easily accessible at the end of tramline 1. In the heart of the city you cannot miss a visit the Place de la Comédie, the oval shaped main square overlooked by the magnificent Comédie Opera House. Built in 1888 with 1,600 sumptuous velvet seats, and gilded gold stands, it is a stunning place to see a show. A short walk away is the Musée Fabre, which hosts a world-class collection of art with over 800 works, 900 engravings and 3,500 drawings that show Europe's artistic evolution from the Renaissance period to modern times. Enjoy panoramic views of the city from the belvedere in Peyrou square, the royal square where a statue of Louis XIV on horseback stands in the city and an Arc de Triomphe towers over the entrance. Tours of the historical centre of Montpellier are available with audios in English also available.
There are lots of stunning beaches on the coast close to Montpellier as well as vineyards just inland in areas including the Pic St Loup, with its famous wine appellation. If you want to get out in the fresh air with some great hiking, then why not hike to the top of the mountain, the Pic St Loup for amazing views of the Mediterranean sea, the Pyrénées, the Alps and Montpellier just below. The city has its own splendid botanical garden which is one of the oldest in Europe, and just to the north of Montpellier is the Serre Amazonienne at the Montpellier zoo, a greenhouse filled with spectacular plants from the Amazon rainforest and over 500 animals indigenous to the Amazon. Piranhas and caiman swim in the mangrove swamp, tamarind monkeys swing from the trees with all kinds of tropical birds, and a colony of bats live in the dark of the the greenhouse grotto. Kids will love this adventure into the wilds of the rainforest!
Sample some delicious Mediterannean cusine in Montpellier - olives and tapenade are popular along with truffles, and fish and seafood including seabass, tuna, sardines, oysters and mussels. Buy produce from the fresh local markets and cook it for yourself or enjoy tasty dishes by excellent chefs in traditional or gastronomic restaurants throughout the city - the choice is yours! With such a great selection of local wines, wine bars are particularly popular in Montpellier selling appellations such as Pic St Loup and Grés de Montpellier.
Region: Languedoc Roussillon
Holidays in France
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