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  Montpellier

 

MONTPELLIER

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 major city.

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
in 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.

Montpellier’s school 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.

The cosmopolitan 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. 

Atger Museum
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

Tramway
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 Corum. 

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 tramways.
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 railway, including TGV trains.

The Montpellier-Méditerranée Airport is located in the area of Fréjorgues. 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 occidental world.

 

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.

Antigone
One of the new developments,  is a city within a city. Designed by Catalan architect Ricardo Bofill, it is built in a neo-classical style of architecture, that leaves no-one indifferent. It centres round a pedestrian walkway, that leads through a series of squares. Antigone has some large-scale facilities, such as the Olympic Pool, and the Central Municipal Library.

Corum
is a building that houses both, a conference centre, and an opera house, and is located in the centre of the city. It was designed by Claude Vasconi, and opened to the public in 1988.

 

Montpellier has grown significantly over recent years. New districts have sprouted, slowly bringing the heart of the city towards the southeast in the direction of the sea.
Areas such as  Antigone by Ricardo Bofill,  Les Rives du Lez, and  Port Marianne with the new City Hall designed by Jean Nouvel, an immense urban work
comprised of a monumental building and an esplanade on which the new RBC Design Center will be created, itself a unique place for French design... a common
thread unites these new neighbourhoods.  Contemporary architecture designed by the greatest architects of our time, with promenades, and large parks to delight
people who love open spaces for relaxation.

Montpellier is not just an urban conurbation less than 11 km from the sea!

The ideal place to stay to discover the myriad different facets of French history, Montpellier sits in the heart of a privileged geographical environment. Located between
the Mediterranean Sea and expansive mountains, Montpellier well plays its role as a regional capital that is as attractive as it is dynamic. You’ll love the cosmopolitan
atmosphere of this Mediterranean city, with its typically gentle southern French style of living, lively sidewalk cafes, and an average 300 sunny days per year. Or
alternatively take a bike ride to the nearby seaside, passing among the vineyards and marshes;  or a canoe jaunt along the River Lez, seeking the flora and fauna that
embellish the banks of the Montpellier waterway.

Luxury and well-being!

In Montpellier, elegance and design go hand-in-hand with diversity and conviviality. Numerous hotels and bed & breakfasts offer you the comfort and a sumptuous stay
with spas and vinotherapy at Domaine de Verchant*****, a romantic week-end getaway at the Baudon de Mauny bed & breakfast...
This centuries-old townhouse in the
heart of Montpellier condenses the feel of a country château into a five-bedroom city-centre boutique hotel, with a change of
pace for an unforgettable night! 
Baudon de Mauny 1 rue de la Carbonnerie, Montpellier, Languedoc-Roussillon, 34000

The luxurious side of Montpellier also includes a wide range of establishments worthy of the most fabulous fairy tale holidays, with star-rated restaurants and numerous
hotels and major brand-name stores for those who adore shopping.

 

Culinary voyage

For lovers of fine dining, Montpellier offers world-class restaurants run by renowned chefs, who share their passion to bring you memorable moments.

Here for you to discover:

Jardin des Sens (Michelin 2-star rating), Réserve Rimbaud (Michelin 1-star rating), Maison de la Lozère, Cellier Morel, with its contemporary decoration
marvelously allied with vaulted ceilings from the Middle Ages, Tamarillos, with its fruit-and flower-inspired cuisine… not to mention the angelic ambiance of
Domaine de Soriech,
chemin de Soriech - avenue de Boirargues, 34970 Lattes, France 04 67 15 19 15. located between city and seaside, plus hundreds of
other gastronomic restaurants you’ll find locally.
Take advantage of this opportunity to taste authentic French cuisine.

 Cultural escapade

Throughout the year, Montpellier offers some fifteen world-class international festivals, including must-see events such as 

Montpellier Danse,

Festival Radio France Languedoc Roussillon,

Cinemed (Mediterranean film festival), 

Les Internationales de la Guitare (guitar festival), and more!

Montpellier is also a place where you’ll find numerous exhibition venues, including the  Pavillon Populaire, which hosts major national and international photography
exhibits, and the celebrated Montpellier Agglomération Fabre Museum, whose extravagant permanent collection and temporary international exhibitions make it one
of the leading fine arts museums in Europe.

 

 

Violin-making capital

Montpellier is one of the worldwide capitals of modern violin-making, endowed with  11 particularly productive workshops specialized in making violins, violas, and cellos.
Some of the local violin-makers open their workshops to special guided tours organized by the Montpellier Tourist Office.

Montpellier has 9 or 10 violin makers, mostly in the Saint Anne district. St Anne church dominates the area in which 9 violin makers live and work. Walk through the square,
where music wafts out the windows of the International Music Academy of Montpellier. A true gathering place for artists and creators. This organization works to promote
and teach musical culture by inviting reputed international professors to teach classes.
The International Music Academy of Montpellier (AIMM) has now been in action for 5 years.

Shop Visit: Montpellier / SELECTION & PURCHASE / Instruments / All Things Strings

Friedrich Alber, Violin Maker in Montpellier, France

Yann Poulain's profile, violinmaker in Montpellier

 

Visiting Montpellier

For an hour, a day, or more...there are many ways to discover Montpellier. Here are a few ideas to combine discovery with fun and to take full advantage of your stay,
Rich with 1,000 years of history, and constructed by some of the greatest international architects. With over 70 private mansion courtyards from the XVIth to XXth
centuries, it also has the oldest still-active university of medicine in the western world, and numerous medieval backstreets,

Montpellier seduces all its visitors with its ancient and modern appeal.

Why not try a relaxing break at one of the many sunny sidewalk cafes on the central Place de la Comédie, Montpellier’s emblematic plaza where people go to see and be seen! 
Place de la Canourgue, a garden haven with a view overlooking the Faculty of Medicine. Place Jean Jaurès, where Montpellier’s young people gather... among the dozens and
dozens of sunny plazas and courtyards where you can relax and meet up with others.

 

Remarkable parks and gardens

Nearly 100 parks and gardens adorn the city of Montpellier. Among these, the Jardin des Plantes (Plant Garden), created in 1593 upon the request of Henry IV to study
medicinal plants, is now classified as a historical monument.

In the northern part of town, the  Parc zoologique de Montpellier (zoological park) and the Serre amazonienne (Amazonian greenhouse) delight.

 

Wine tourism

Montpellier is located in the middle of the largest wine region in the world. A dozen appellations stand out as leaders, including Côteaux du Languedoc, Faugères,
Saint Chinian, Pic Saint Loup, and of course, Grés de Montpellier, produced right within
the Montpellier area.  Château de Flaugergues, Engarran… Numerous wineries
are open to visitors with walks amongst the vines with an explanation of the work of the vigneron followed by a BBQ, and if you arrive in the season you can also get
involved in grape picking.

AOC coteaux du Languedoc

Saint chinian

l'appellation Faugères

chateau of flaugergues montpellier vineyard

Chateau de l'Engarran folie Montpellier

 

Two hours

Wandering through the streets of Montpellier... Key attractions include the historical center - Ecusson - area, with its medieval streets, emblematic Place de la Comédie,
Place de la Canourgue
overlooking the SaintPierre cathedral with its massive columns, Avenue Foch leading up to the Arc de Triomphe, Place Royale du Peyrou,
and Saint-Clément aqueduct.

Here’s a tip: keep your eyes alert for open doorways into the marvellous interior courtyards of the local historical mansions, the jewels of Montpellier architecture.

The Montpellier Tourist Office offers a variety of guided tours.

 

 

An extra hour?

Move from historical discovery to Montpellier’s contemporary side. Head over to the neoclassical Antigone district designed by Catalonian architect Bofill, along with the
Consuls de Mer and Port Marianne areas, and the brand new City Hall designed by Jean Nouvel.

On foot, or by tramway... let Montpellier reveal its different sides to you.

 

All day

Vélomagg

A great deal on bicycle rentals from Montpellier Agglomération: nearly 50 bike stations to enjoy some 120 km of bike paths and discover the city your way. Rentals available at the Montpellier Tourist Office
Vélomagg

 

The Musée Fabre of Montpellier

Great 17th century Dutch and Flemish masters, along with other European painters such as Allori, Veronese, Ribera, Dominicain, Surbaran, Poussin, Bourdon, Ranc, Coypel, and Reynolds. Not to mention modern and contemporary collections ranging from Delacroix to Gericault, Courbet, and Soulages. Altogether, nearly 800 major works are on display
to the delight of all. The quality of the Fabre Museum places it among the leading fine arts collections in Europe! Don’t miss the museum’s decorative arts exhibit, housed right
next door in the Hôtel Cabrières Sabatier d’Espeyran.
Musée Fabre - Montpellier Agglomération : Accueil

 

 

Shopping along medieval streets

Lovers of old stone and quaint ambiance will delight in the maze of medieval backstreets in Montpellier’s historic centre, known as the Ecusson, with antique shops, arts and crafts boutiques, and leading names in luxury goods. A guaranteed change of pace!

 

 

 

 

Montpellier’s folies

Away from the city centre, amid the open Mediterranean scrubland, or garrigue, the Montpellier elite of the eighteenth century built splendid mansions for themselves.
Spacious parks with precise geometric layouts were added to adorn these chateaux. A symbol of power and wealth, these «folies» (mansions among the leaves) embody
a period in which ostentation and refinement were at their height.
These beautiful residences include the fabulous châteaux de la Mogère, Flaugergues, and Engarran.

A tasty trip to the Arceaux farmer’s market
From the charming market on Tuesday and Saturday mornings beneath the arches of the aqueduct, to the open market downtown, discover local specialties and products
that embody the identity and great tastes of Languedoc-Roussillon: cold-cuts, fruit and vegetables, sheep and goat cheese, olives, honey, and much more.
This is also a
flea market.

Les Arceaux Montpellier

 

Less than 11 km to the seaside

Villeneuve lès Maguelone and its Xth century abbey sit perched between vineyards and history to offer nature lovers a unique and protected site by the water.
Visitors seeking more excitement and a family-oriented resort will find their heart’s delight in Palavas les Flots and  La Grande Motte. For some peace and quiet
and vast expanses of soft sand, the locals highly recommend the  Petit Travers and Grand Travers beaches (Carnon), as well as the  Espiguettebeach (Grau du Roi).

The beach by bike! Now there’s a brand new bike path that follows the Lez River and vineyards from the city all the way to the beaches.

 

Odysseum, Montpellier’s leisure zone

At the entrance to Montpellier’s east side, with easy motorway access, Odysseum is a leisure and shopping concept that is unique in the Mediterranean region. With its  100 brand-name stores, theme restaurants, and leisure activities such as the  Vegapolis ice-skating rink, Gaumont Multiplexe cinema, Mare Nostrum aquarium, bowling alley, go-kart track, Altissimo climbing wall, and  Galileo planetarium. Odysseum welcomes millions of visitors every year.
New in 2012 : Opening of the Holiday Inn Express hotel.

 

 

 

Live performances

The theatre is on in Montpellier every night, for all tastes and budgets. Check out the national symphony orchestra and opera, Park & Suites Arena (2nd
largest concert venue in France after Bercy in Paris), Rockstrore and Salle Victoire 2 for rock concerts and contemporary music, JAM for jazz, plus the
national choreography center and numerous theaters. And more.

 

 

Montpellier’s two new tramway lines - Head out on a high-fashion journey.

Montpellier has had two tramway lines for the past several years. In the beginning, the city marked the event by inviting designers Garouste and Bonetti to decorate the tramway cars. The swallows chosen for Line 1 announce Springtime, a new beginning for urban transportation.
The multicolored flowers on Line 2 demonstrate the Summertime beauty of Mediterranean landscapes. Two new lines are nearly ready today, offering  very contemporary designs by Christian Lacroix. He is both a major name in the fashion industry and a man originally from the Camargue region in the south.
In particular, he loves the Mediterranean. His creations are an invitation to travel. Octopus, fish, starfish, and marine monsters comprise the motifs chosen by the renowned fashion designer to dress Line 3 in warm and dreamy summer colors.
Line 4, on the other hand, will be bright. The fourth line will circulate around the center of Montpellier, wearing ancient architectural engravings on an embroidered background, reflecting the Languedoc sun. Opens in april 2012.

Transports de l'Agglomération de Montpellier - TaM - Se déplacer

 

 

 

 

Renovation of the Opéra Comédie

Reopening in May 2012

When the curtain rose in the mid XVIIIth century, Montpellier was a charming city, a city of the king’s officers and counselors to the court of audits. It was also
an intellectual city in which university professors held their ranks. It was a time of beautiful hotels, and regulated, cultured society, but Montpellier had no theatre,
even though people had a liking for live performances.

The cornerstone of the Opera was laid in 1884, and despite significant challenges during construction, the theater was inaugurated on October 1, 1888.
The public discovered a 1,600-seat hall filled with red velvet, ornate decorations, and light. With the luxury of a stairwell decorated with mosaics and
polychrome marble, similar to the celebrated Garnier palace... the Opéra Comédie was born.

After 18 months of restoration work, modernization, and safety improvements for the stage area, this Montpellier jewel will reopen its doors to the public in may 2012.

To celebrate the reopening, great shows will be on :  Johan Sebastian Bach directed by David Fray on May 25th and 26th and «Les Noces de Figaro» (Mozart) from June 20th to june 28th directed by Jean-Paul Scarpitta, costumes signed by JeanPaul Gaultier.

Opéra et Orchestre National de Montpellier LR

 

 

PREPARING YOUR STAY

The official site of the Montpellier Tourist Office: www.ot-montpellier.fr

Will provide you with suggestions of must-see places and events and tours in Montpellier, based on your desires and interests, as well as a set of videos about Montpellier.

Free documentation downloads

Tourist maps (SEE), accommodation map and guide (OVERNIGHT), restaurant guide (DINING), activity guide (FUN), Montpellier City Card, learning French in Montpellier, Montpellier events calendar.. All these documents may be viewed on-line and downloaded.
Open 7 days a week, the Montpellier Tourist Office is located right in the heart of the city, on the Place de la Comédie/ Esplanade Charles de Gaulle (Comédie tramway stop).

Multilingual advisors are ready to help visitors by providing all kinds of information about the area. Ticket service - bike rentals - Montpellier City Card - guided tours.

www.visitmontpelliernow.com

Montpellier Tourist Office on-line booking service, with its built-in dynamic shopping cart, offers accommodations, guided tours, transportation, the Montpellier City Card, entry tickets, excursions and weekend packages. Unlike other booking services, the Montpellier Tourist Office actually knows the professionals it recommends, with an ongoing guarantee of quality. The choice is yours!

 

Discovering the city - Guided tours

Montpellier Tourist Office offers guided tours all year long, with experienced guides who can give you privileged access to the city’s most prestigious monuments. 2 hours cover 1,000 years of history and so much of what you need to know about Montpellier. From 7,50€.

Historical center: every Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday. Every day during school holidays.

Theme visits:  following a quarterly schedule available at  Montpellier Tourist Office.

 

Petit train touristique - Little tourist train.
Sit back and relax for a guided tour through the historical center, starting from the Charles de Gaulle Esplanade.

 

Public Transportation

30 bus routes + 2 tramway lines: line 1 (blue with swallows) from Mosson to Odysseum and line 2 (colorful flowers) from Jacou to Saint Jean de Védas.

Opening in 2012: Tramway lines 3 and 4, with service towards the sea.

Transports de l'Agglomération de Montpellier - TaM

 

Montpellier City Card

Available for 24, 48, or 72 hours, Montpellier City Card includes free or reduced admission for a wide variety of things to see and do, from museum tours and leisure activities to performances and public transportation. From 13€, on sale all year round at the Montpellier Tourist Office.

 

OFFICE DE TOURISME DE MONTPELLIER

30, allée Jean de Lattre de Tassigny
34000 Montpellier - France
Tél. : + 33 (0)4 67 60 60 60
Fax : + 33 (0)4 67 60 60 61
E mail ; contact@ot-montpellier.fr
Montpellier Tourist Office

 

 

Cambous

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 architecture.
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 18h00
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 Village: Viols-le-Fort
Latitude: 43.755500N  Longitude: 3.732800E

 

Palavas

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.  The 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 town

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 Languedoc appelation.

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. 

 

 

 

 

 

Sommieres
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.

In 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 flooded. 
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.)

The chateau was at one stage transformed into a jail. The steep walk up the castle is worth it - there are lovely views over the surrounding countryside.

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.