Montpellier is the capital of the Hérault department as well as the Languedoc-Rousillon region. Although not terribly large, it is a vibrant city thanks to its student population. It is also home to a thriving gay community. The old city is lovely, bursting with history from Roman times on up, and where the action is: for shopping, pubs and people watching. Plus it's largely a pedestrian zone. There's a market every morning on the Place de la Comédie: farmer's market + clothing, etc. Next to the market is the traveller's bureau (office de tourisme), with a helpful and bilingual staff that will provide you with maps and tips on places to visit or stay. Further up in the old town there's an English bookshop that has second-hand paperbacks for sale (and occassionally swaps, depending on the owner's mood that day). Any cravings for junk food from back home (peanut butter, marmite, etc.) can be satisfied at the Inno grocery store in the Polygone shopping mall. To the south, there are the beaches of the Mediterranean. In the summer, there are boating jousts in Palavas - an event that dates back to Medieval times, fun but always dark with throngs. Those who'd rather escape the crowds can make their way along the coast road and find more isolated beaches (fewer people in the morning).
Montpellier is a gorgeous, shining and welcoming city, with a history kept within each of its stones. Founded from the 10th to the 12th century by Jews, Muslims, and Christians, it values tolerance and fraternity and has since developed a very special Mediterranean "art de vivre".
In Montpellier you will find interesting architecture from all periods of France's history . Sights include an 18th- century water tower, an aqueduct, narrow streets lined with tall narrow houses and a medieval-styled Ancient Courrier (where the shopping's great). There is also an impressive new quarter, began in the 70's.
Montpellier is an excellent base for daytrips.
January 19, 2005 change by giorgio