Halfway between Spain and Italy
Less than 2 hours drive from Marseille, the European Culture
Capital for 2013
1.5 hours by plane to 2012 Olympic Games in London
In the heart of a region with 7 wonders listed as UNESCO
World Heritage sites
3 ¼ hours from Paris by TGV
Less than three hours from Barcelona and Italy, and just
11 kilometers from the Mediterranean Sea in the heart of
the Languedoc-Roussillon region in
the South of France, Montpellier is the ideal holiday
destination, a historic, effervescent city with
attractions that rank among the most prestigious world
heritage sites. An urban tourist destination, a
top-ranking university city, Montpellier joins
Mediterranean lifestyle with all the resources of a
Montpellier, in the heart of a region with numerous
magnificent sites, including 7 listed by the UNESCO
World Heritage program. Within less than 2 hours
driving distance, you’ll find splendors such as the
fortress of Carcassonne, Pont du Gard, Canal du Midi and
its many locks, medieval abbey of Géllone
St-Guilhem-le-Désert, Saint-Gilles-du-Gard along the
Chemins de SaintJacques de Compostelle, papal palace in
Avignon, Vauban fortresses in the
Pyrénées, and the Causses and Cévennes region, along
with historical and picturesque cities such as the Roman
city of Nîmes, Sète with its water-jousting,
and the walled city of Aigues-Mortes, and numerous
protected natural sites such as the Camargue area.
Named by the New York Times as one of the top 45 places
to go in 2012, Montpellier is more than ever a prime
destination for you to set down your suitcase.
Montpellier is the
capital of the Department of the Herault. A University town,
with a world famous faculty of medicine, that is also the
oldest. Montpellier was founded in the 8th century. In the
10th century, Montpellier was a trading center for imported
spices. In 1141, it was given a city charter. During the rule
of Louis XIV, 1643 to 1715, Montpellier was made the
administrative capital of the Languedoc region.
of law began in 1160. During the 12th century its medical
school became important.
In 1220, the University of
Montpellier was founded, and in 1221, its faculty of medicine
was founded. During the French Revolution the university
was suppressed. After 1799, the institution was gradually re established. In 1970, it was reorganized into three
universities: Montpellier I, II, and III.
It is the fifth
largest town of France, with a population of more than
550,000 inhabitants, of which 55 000 are university
students. The population of the city of Montpellier at the
1999 census was 225,300. In February 2004, it was estimated
that the population of the city of Montpellier had reached
244,700, an increase of 8.6% since 1999. In 2007, the
estimated population of the metropolitan area was 531,000.
In the 1960s, its
population grew dramatically, after French settlers in
Algeria were resettled in the city, following Algeria's
independence from France. In the 1980s and 1990s, the city
enlarged with a number of major redevelopment projects, such
as the Corum, and especially the Antigone District.
The city is
situated 10 km (6 miles) inland from the Mediterranean coast. Montpellier has been the subject of many superlatives,
and battles with Toulouse for the title of capital of
southern Europe. The town centre has many interesting
features, not least the modern university buildings, and the
old town with its Arc de Triumph in honour of Louis 14th.
The hub of
Montpellier, is the Place de la Comedie, known to the locals
as "place de l'oeuf". Here you will find the theatre, and the
statue "les Trois Graces" carved in white marble.
There are many
instances, where Montpellier has been used to name
streets, and buildings in the United Kingdom. The origins of
this, stems from the Napoleonic Wars when many English,
trapped in France, were kept in Montpellier. Upon their
return to England they used Montpellier, frequently, to name
roads, and squares.
town centre, contains an assortment of shops, and many parks
and gardens. Montpellier has expanded considerably, and
edges ever near the coast, almost certainly to become a
coastal town in the future.
Montpellier was once
a medieval walled city. Like most older European cities, it
grew up around its old quarters. Today, the city is
contained within boulevards, that were built upon the site of
the city’s former walls.
The city is famous
for the terraced 17th and 18th century Promenade du Peyrou.
From the Promenade, one has a magnificent view of the
Mediterranean, and of the city's elegant mansions.
In the late 16th
century, 1593, Henry IV founded the Botanical Gardens, which
is France’s oldest.
The city’s Fabre Museum, contains one of the richest French collections of
paintings in existence.
Hidden away amongst the buildings
of the oldest medical faculty in France is this small and
beautifully decorated museum. The gallery contains a great
collection of over a thousand drawings, ranging from the
Renaissance to the 19th Century
The latest acquisition of the town, is it's state of the art tramway
network, consisting of 2 lines, and several parking
facilities. Line 1 runs from Mosson in the west to Odysseum
in the east. Line 2 runs from Jacou in the northeast to St.
Jean-de-Vedas in the southwest. They intersect at Gare Saint Roch, Place de l'Europe, and again in front of the
The centre of Montpellier is a vast pedestrian walkway
whose effervescence sets the tone. Montpellier has one
of the largest pedestrian zones in Europe, where the
best way to get around is on foot, by bike, and by
4 tramway lines, to be exact.
These tram cars are veritable works of art, designs
drawn in reference to the elements:
Air on Line 1, with white swallows on a blue background;
Earth with flowers on Line 2;
Water with undersea decor on Line 3;
Fire, dedicated to the sun-king on Line 4.
Lines 3 and 4 will be inaugurated on April 6, 2012
The first section of line to be built, runs from (Mosson- La Paillade) to the south east, (Odysseum) a distance of 15.2kilometers, and has 28 stations. The trams run from 05.00 to 01.00, and normally, there is a waiting time of no longer than 5 minutes between trains. The trains run at a speeds of between 20 km/h and 70km/h. The carriages have been built, so that there is no step between the platform, and the tram, this allows access to all, including
invalids in wheelchairs.
Montpellier is served by
Montpellier-Méditerranée Airport is located in the area
Good climatic conditions, is one of the reasons
why Montpellier's airport is the International Training Center for many airlines. Lufthansa and Air France are two
of the leading air companies who regularly train their 747
Jumbo jet pilots here.
Tramway-Click for larger image.
Faculty of Medecine
It was in 1180, that Lord Guilhem VIII signed a surprising,
and far-reaching edict. He declared that anyone, regardless
of religion or background, could teach medicine in
Montpellier… And thus was born, at the end of the 13th
century, what is today’s, oldest medical school in the
The triumphal Arch
At the end of the 17th century, it was decided
to erect this triumphal arch, a copy of the gates of Paris,
in honour of Louis XIV.
The Place de la Comédie
Montpellier’s central square. Also known as l’OEuf (the Egg)
because of its original oval shape, it is one of the largest
pedestrian areas in Europe.
About 20 kms. from Montpellier, at Viols en
Laval, lies the prehistoric village of Cambous, that was discovered in 1967.
It is a European reference site for prehistoric
The site presents digs in various states, in addition
to a full-sized reconstitution of a prehistoric dwelling,
and is considered to be the oldest
village in France,
Excavations and surveys have exposed many dwellings from the Fontbouisse culture, a local variety of the copper age, and dated 3000 years B.C.
The site consists of four groups of about ten houses each. One of these houses has been restored.
The houses have a double facing of dry stone walling, and never exceed 1.50m in height. The roofs were supported by wooden beams, and were covered with branches and thatch.
Various artefacts have been discovered, including pottery, tools, weapons, and ornaments. Hearths where the inhabitants made their fires, are situated in the back of the houses . Some hearths were found outside the building, suggesting that they lived an outdoor life for large parts of the year. The village spreads over about 5 acres, and is one of several sites known around the nearby village of St Martin de Londres.
Useful Information: Open
from October to Easter on Sundays from 14h00 to 18h00. From
Easter to October on Saturdays and Sundays from 14h00 to
To get to the site, park in the village and it is about an
800 metre walk along an unpaved road.
Site Name: Village
Préhistorique de Cambous
Nearest Town: Montpelier Nearest
Latitude: 43.755500N Longitude: 3.732800E
Palavas is a seaside
resort, some six km south of Montpellier, on the Gulf of
Lion and the Mediterranean Sea.
It lies on a strip of sand
dunes, that separates two lakes, the Étang de l'Arnel and the
Étang du Méjean, from the sea. It is one of the most popular
places in this part of France's coastline.
It is a family seaside resort, bordered
by a long fine sandy beach.
The village originated as a fishermen's village, the
fishermen sold their catch in the markets of Montpellier.
village is divided in two by the river Lez,
that flows into the sea through a canalized section. At
the mouth of the river there is a cable car that traverses
the river allowing easy connection between the two parts of
The historical train from Montpellier to Palavas.
From the beginning of the 19th century, local tourists,
and seasonal visitors were drawn to the village. When in
1872 a local train to and from Montpellier started service,
seaside tourism really took off. This train operated until
1968, and is now exhibited in Montpellier.
The "Phare de la Méditerranée"
This old water tower, located in the heart of the village,
has been converted into a conference centre, tourism
office, viewing platform, and at the top, a 65m high
panoramic, rotating restaurant.
Traditional seaside feria:
In the summer traditional ferias take place with Bullfights,
Spanish dances, exposure of art, traditional bull games
(akin to "It's a knockout"), and bodegas.
St Martin de Londres
St Martin is a village typical of the region, and worth a visit, to see its clock tower. Many of its roads are stepped.
It is situated a few kilometers from Pic St Loup, the
Gorge de l'Herault. and 25 km inland from
Montpellier. The Pic-St-Loup is a high limestone ridge peak,
that overlooks extensive vineyards of the Coteaux du
Normally, the region is well known for being burnt by the sun, but St Martin has the distinction of holding the record for the coldest location of the region, with a temperature of minus 26degs. Centigrade in 1956. At that time many of the Olive trees of the area died because of the cold.
is a beautiful village
situated in the Department of the Gard, 22kms from Nimes and
28 kms from Montpellier. It is well known for
its medieval centre, its chateau, and its Saturday market.
the 1st Century, The Emperor Tiberius, constructed the main
bridge over the Vidourle river where Sommieres now stands,
in order to link Nimes with Toulouse. The original bridge
was 189m long and consisted of 17 arches. Most of these
arches have been built over and make up one side of the
present market square (there are medieval shops and housing
over them). Only 7 arches are now visible. This has lead to
the village appearing to be built on several different
levels and give a quaintness to the village.
In the Middle
Ages, the population sought refuge and protection in the
area around the chateau. At this time the economy of the
village came from working with skins and leathers. Locals
built their homes over arcades as the Vidourle regularly
The Saturday market has existed since 1183.
In the 16th
Century the majority of the population was Protestant.
Besieged twice, in 1573 and 1575 (once by the Catholics and
once by the Protestants), the village was nearly destroyed,
with only 38 houses remaining.
Louis XIII came at the head of his army in 1622 to claim
Sommieres. (the village gave up with little defence.)
was at one stage transformed into a jail. The steep walk up
the castle is worth it - there are lovely views over the
In July &
August there is a Wednesday evening market, and in April
there is a Fete Medievale.
Unfortunately, Sommieres is well known for it's flooding. In
September 2002 the water reached as far up as the 2nd floor
of the buildings in the market square. The local shop
keepers are well versed in listening to the alerts, removing
their goods and furniture and returning to be back in
business within days.