A DAY OF CULTURE AND RELAXATION IN MONTPELLIER
We're off !
I leave the no. 1 Tram route, designed by Garouste and Bonetti, and climb the 111 steps that lead up to the Esplanade Charles de Gaulle. There, lulled by the tinkling of the fountain, I wander around the stalls in the booksellers' market, absorbing the typical laid-back Mediterranean life-style.
Fans of old books should come and hunt around every Saturday from 10.00am to 6.00pm to find literary pearls. All of which is free, obviously.
Let's have a helping of art
First stop of the day: the Fabre Museum, considered as one of the finest museums of Fine Art in Europe. I will not miss the 2018 Summer Exhibition, devoted to Picasso, under any circumstances: "Picasso - Donner à voir".
Then I head to the popular Pavillon which houses numerous free photographic exhibitions – moving, poignant, sometimes hard, but always with an artist's eye...
I take a little detour to La Panacée Contemporary Art Centre, a centre of contemporary culture, and a multi-faceted space holding several exhibitions at the same time, and take advantage of the well-set-out patio. #BouffeedArtFrais
Between brunch and Mediaeval wanderings
After this artistic morning, when I explored two very different worlds, I'm feeling hungry. For a pleasant brunch, I can recommend Coldrip Food & Coffee: the ideal place to get a Tchaï Latte, an avocado salad with Eggs Benedict, and home-made pancakes. All of this in a hall where the vaulted ceiling has exposed stonework. #BrunchBio
Lose yourself in the little Mediaeval streets
Ready for an afternoon's exploring? I suggest that you go down the very chic Avenue Foch and branch out into the little old streets of the Écusson historical central area. Don't hesitate to go into a hotel to find the best-hidden secrets of Montpellier.
Detour via the Place de la Canourgue, the finest in the city, or the Place du Marché aux Fleurs to enjoy a drink in the sun while listening to the splashing of the fountain.
While you're on your way, don't forget to look around you, and look up! There are numerous works of street art dotted about all over the place in the city: Space Invaders, graphic collages, bikes embedded in walls, and much more. Because in Montpellier, culture is everywhere, all the time. #CultureIntensive
If you are a fan of Street Art, I invite you to take the guided tour: "Street Art, vue d’ensemble" (Street Art, an overall view) offered by the Office de Tourisme de Montpellier. This really unusual street of art will not keep any more secrets from you.
Feel like shopping ?
After effort, reward. The Écusson area is full of shops of all sorts! Concept-Stores, shops for incense, tea, independent bookshops, or charity shops make up an astonishing mosaic where you will be able to get what you want. Among what is on offer, I recommend the État d’Âme shop, a real Ali Baba's cave of shimmering colours; Hybride, a concept-store where you can mix hot chocolate and trendy shopping, or Pomme de Reinette et Pomme d’Api, a shop selling toys and accessories which is great to lose yourself in.
Montpellier is a pedestrian destination, to be explored on foot, on a bike, or by tram.
Not to be missed: 4 tram routes that serve the city. They are real moving works of art – Routes 1 and 2 were designed by Garouste and Bonetti, and 3 and 4 by Christian Lacroix!
Pause for a snack
4.00pm – an ideal time to stop for a smoothie in the shade of this maze of little streets! I'll bet the little ones would rather have a frozen yogurt. For that, you need to go the Yogurt Factory: a tub of ice cream covered in fresh fruit, chocolate chips and sweets for the greediest ones! #SmoothieEnFamille
So, I've arrived at the entrance to the Rue de l'Ancien Courrier where I'll stop for a moment, have a good look around, get out my phone and capture this Mediaeval rabbit warren, for a souvenir of a relaxing and cultural day in Montpellier.
I'll post it on Instagram. Hashtag #MontpellierNow !
La Place de la Comédie is one of the largest pedestrian areas in Europe. A piece of advice: forget your map, and lose yourself in the little Mediaeval streets! Here's a chance to travel through time !
Where to sleep and eat, what to do?
Voici les bonnes adresses de Jonathan (Tourisme Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole) pour profiter pleinement de votre expérience farniente et culture à Montpellier.
- By car: by the motorways A9/A709 and A75. 4 exits: nos 29, 30, 31 and 32.
- By air: Montpellier International Airport 8km from the centre of the city.
- By train: Montpellier is served by the TGV (fast train), the TER (regional train) and RENFE (Spanish Railways) (from Paris in 3¼hrs, Toulouse in 2hrs10mins, Marseille in 1½hrs, Barcelona in 2½hrs, etc).