Our Travels: Montpellier, France

It probably comes as no surprise to you that the World Words team has a serious case of wanderlust. After all, it’s those itchy feet that led us to specialise in travel content in the first place. We don’t just love to write about global destinations, we get out there and explore them for ourselves, which is what makes our content so well informed.

The Our Travels blog series gives us the chance to share our very best travel stories with you each month. Our jet-setting writers and editors have visited worldwide destinations as varied as Oman, Estonia and Quebec City.

In this month’s blog, World Words content writer Ruth heads to the sunny south of France to explore Montpellier…

Ruth (right) and her friend Louise at their favourite apéritif spot at Place du Marché aux Fleurs.

Why I went to Montpellier, France
When my friend Louise – Edinburgh native turned chic Montpellier resident – offered to show me around her new home city, I couldn’t resist. How often do you get a chance to discover a little-known French destination courtesy of your own personal tour guide? I didn’t know much about Montpellier, but I was promised a laid-back university city with great bars, an artsy vibe and glorious Mediterranean sunshine. Oh, and cheese. Lots and lots of cheese.

That sealed the deal, if I’m honest.

My highlight of the trip
With its pedestrianised centre, historic Montpellier is a joy to explore on foot. My favourite day began with a walk along the Promenade du Peyrou for panoramic views of the city, followed by a stroll through the sun-drenched Jardin des Plantes. We ate lunch in the shade of Place du Petit Scel’s beautifully restored church, which doubles up – in true Montpellier style – as an arts exhibition centre. Next up, there was a visit to the bustling Place de la Comédie, before taking in the eclectic photography exhibits at Pavillon Populaire. Dinner in a tiny restaurant tucked away down a side street festooned in colourful lanterns provided the perfect finale to a perfect day.

What else I love about Montpellier
From tiny contemporary galleries to the grand Fabre museum and its fine art collection, art pops up everywhere in Montpellier. Even the trams are a work of art, with eye-catching exteriors by the fashion designer Christian Lacroix.

On hot days, you can hop on one of the city’s Velomagg rental bikes and take a leisurely pedal along the banks of the River Lez. We spotted Camargue flamingos along the way and cooled off with a swim in the Med at the pretty beach town of Palavas-les-Flots. And needless to say, while it may be a French holiday cliché, the food really was incredible. Local cheeses, amazing Languedoc wines and no end of diet-busting pastries.

The Renaissance Three Graces fountain at Place de la Comédie, Montpellier’s central square.

Why you should go
Montpellier has a pretty low profile when it comes to tourism, which makes it a fantastic destination for a taste of old-school French charm. That’s not to say it’s stuck in the past; the city’s large student population keep things up-and-coming. Montpellier happily blends everything from romantic Renaissance architecture to cool modern art with a generous helping of that famously relaxed Mediterranean atmosphere. And did I mention the cheese?

How you can visit
Montpellier does have a small airport, but most people fly into the larger Marseille Airport, just a couple of hours away. I hopped on a budget flight direct to Beziers, a town just south of Montpellier. From there, it was an easy 45-minute train journey straight into the heart of the city. You can easily get around the city by foot, bike, bus or tram.

The World Words team write travel content about destinations across France; just take a look at some of our blogs, articles and travel guides on the country. You can also stay up to date with our latest news on Twitter.

– Article and photography by Ruth Elvin.

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