French Regions – Montpellier Posted by Transparent Language on Jun 24, 2009 in Geography, History
While I was studying in Paris, I went home with a friend for a weekend to Montpellier and it was really a beautiful city. Montpellier is located in the south of France on the Mediterranean coast and is the capital of Languedoc-Roussillon. Its name refers to the fact that it sits up on hilly ground. The hills make for beautiful pictures of the city from different altitudes. It is not a huge city (approx. 300,000 residents), but that’s probably part of what makes it so appealing. It is a popular destination for language programs and exchange students perhaps because of the openness of the locals, the fact that one out of every two residents are under 35 and also because its University is one of the oldest in the world.
When I visited, the city was undergoing several infrastructure projects including the tramway, which is now in full operation and makes it much easier to get around. There are many things to do in and around Montpellier besides enjoying the beautiful beaches. You can tour the University, Saint-Pierre Cathedral, huge centuries-old private mansions that were built by noblemen, the Arc de Triomphe (which is quite similar to the one in Paris), a 13th century Jewish bath, the Montpellier follies (castles) and violin workshops as it is the violin-making capital of the world. My two favorites are the squares – the Peyrou royal square and la Place de la Comédie which is the city’s egg-shaped main square featuring a magnificent Opera house and one of the largest pedestrian areas in Europe. The official website of the Montpellier Tourist Office can be found here in English and French. There you can get more information on what the city has to offer and book hotels and vacation stays.
Right now and until July 4th, it is hosting the International Dance Festival during which over 300 dance troupes from around the world put on 3-10 shows daily. Later in July, it will host the Radio France and Montpellier Languedoc-Roussillon Festival when it will be the site of over a hundred concerts featuring all genres of music. There are more than a dozen museums to take in around the city and around the same number of large parks, including the Botanical Garden, which is one of the oldest in Europe. The city’s restaurants offer excellent food and wines. Montpellier can also be your base for touring several World Heritage sites including le Canal du Midi, the Roman aqueduct Pont du Gard and the medieval city of Carcassonne.
Finally, it is interesting to note that many cities around the world have been named after Montpellier, including the capital city of Vermont in honor of the French, who were very highly regarded in the United States after the American Revolutionary War because of their assistance in the struggle against the British for independence.
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