Written by moatway on 12 Apr, 2004
When I was researching Montpellier as a destination, I had looked at the maps and descriptions and really had a hard time deciding what our approach to the city would be. It’s actually simple to see most of what it has to offer on foot.…Read More
When I was researching Montpellier as a destination, I had looked at the maps and descriptions and really had a hard time deciding what our approach to the city would be. It’s actually simple to see most of what it has to offer on foot. . .
This is just a suggestion, but you might want to start at the river at the Esplanade de l’Europe. On one side of the river is the Hotel de Region, on the other side is the Antigone. Antigone is planned development at… its best? I guess so. It stretches from the river all the way to the Place de la Comedie, the heart of Montpellier. It is a whole and it is worth walking right up through the middle of it. It is housing, businesses and offices in a homogenous community – the design of a single architect. Walking up the broad pedestrian esplanade will give you an appreciation of the symmetry involved in the project. The style? A mélange – classical, art-deco and modern all mixed together.
Having walked the length of the Antigone, you arrive at Le Polygone, a large shopping mall with three floors. (It also features a lot of parking in its garage.) An escalator will take you in and you can actually go right through the mall and wind up at Place de la Comedie. Arriving in this huge pedestrian space, you will find the main tourist information office to your right.
The Place de la Comedie sprawls with the opera at one end and the Jardin du Champ du Mars and the Corum at the other. On a pleasant day, or even a marginal one, you will probably find it crowded with people milling about or at tables in the many cafes and street entertainers. . . it’s a great space and the best thing about Montpellier. Armed with our map of Montpellier and the Michelin Green Guide we did a walk through the historic area of the city which lies at the opposite side of the Place from Antigone. (Just an observation: an unfortunate part of Montpellier is that the city is heavily "tagged". Every time the guide says look at the door on the left, chances are that the door has a tag spray-painted on it. I hope the city cleans it up.)
The main site on the tour is the Museum Fabre… and it was the one thing I wanted to see, but it is closed for extensive renovations until mid-2006. Otherwise, what might I recommend? Do go inside the Musee de Vieux Montpellier. It is small, charming and free. The Musee Fougau is on the floor above… both are in the Place Petrarque. Do not miss the Cathedrale St-Pierre. Michelin gives it no stars, but I found it very impressive.
Next door to the cathedral us the Medical Faculty. Inside are two museums – the Anatomy Museum (we passed) and the Musee Atger (no charge). To complete your tour of the district, drop into the lovely church of Ste-Anne. It has delicate, soaring columns and slim Gothic windows in stained glass. It isn’t really old and it’s no longer a church – it is used as exhibition space for temporary displays.
Montpellier is a city of courtyards – many of them closed except with a tour booked through tourist information. Frankly, there is such a thing as overkill. Oh, you’re not done yet. Just around the corner from the cathedral, you should probably go to the Promenade de Peyron.
In the Peyron, you will see the St. Clement aqueduct (1766) and a water tower in the shape of a classical temple. From the terraces at Peyrou there is a vista out over the city. . . it’s not awe-inspiring, but it’s nice. Also on the site is an equestrian statue for Louis XIV and an Arc de Triomphe celebrating his reign.
On the whole – a nice accessible city, a good place to pass time, but there is nothing here really out-of-the-ordinary.
Written by Praskipark on 28 Aug, 2008
I first started visiting this area of France when I was in my early thirties and going through that very pretentious stage of thinking I was a wine buff and could recognise all the wines from the South West region. I was never one for…Read More
I first started visiting this area of France when I was in my early thirties and going through that very pretentious stage of thinking I was a wine buff and could recognise all the wines from the South West region. I was never one for talking about the bouquets and aromas of wine but I did used to think I was pretty accurate at guessing wines from the south west region of France. Older and wiser as (Ian Botham would say) I drink anything now and in fact I am not really sure if I am so mad about wine - cheap or expensive. I still drink a glass or two but I prefer beer these days. Once a luddite always a luddite.This region of France is well known for producing several good wines and I used to get excited when we drove through the Corbieres, Aude, Herault, Languedoc, Fitou regions of France. I could then place the wine label with the department name. The best time to visit this area in my opinion, is late September, early October as the colour of the vines take on a really beautiful coppery hue and against the bright blue skies it is a very pretty sight to see.The wine regions weren't the main reason why we loved and still love this area. It is so diverse in it's landscapes. You have the beaches of the Mediterranean, snow topped mountains of the Pyrenees and to the North there are gorges, thick dense forests and rivers. I once asked a French friend why she never went anywhere else apart from France for her holidays and her reply was, 'Why should I have to leave France - it has everything to offer.' This is true as a whole country but this region for me has it all too.We have tried various forms of accommodation over the years, rough camping, camping a la ferme, posh camping, hotels, Formulae 1, Campanille, gites and rented houses. The very last time we rented a property in a hamlet not far from Limoux which is located in the Aude between Quillan and Carcassonne. It was only small with a few houses but apart from the yapping dog it was extremely peaceful and the scenery was exquisite. The Canal du Midi was right at hand and it was very easy to get into Carcassonne and other nearby places of interest.I know not everybody loves France but for those who do, take a few minutes and come with me for a short tour of this area.Firstly let us get our bearings - where is the Languedoc Roussillon region?It is the region occupying the western end of the South Coast of France on the Mediterranean sea. It's southernmost border is Spain, and to the east is Provence and the Northern Border is the Masiff Central.Why would I choose to visit this area?------------------------------------------------------As I have mentioned earlier this region has a diversity of geographical charm and a fantastic climate. It is split into five departments which have entirely different characteristics. They are;----------------AudePyrenees Orientales - this includes the mountains and the coast between Perpignan and the Costa Brava, Spain.GardHeraultLozereThese three departments are more northerly and inland.I can't possibly write about every area in these departments so I will choose a handful to give you a vision of this lovely place.Aude--------The Cathars occupied this area in the 13th and 14th centuries and is sometimes called Cathar country. The Cathars were a religious group who came to Europe in the 11th century. From which group it isn't rightly known although some history books say that their beliefs came from Persia. They believed in a good god and an evil adversary similar to Christianity.Throughout the area of Aude there are monuments associated with the Cathars and this is a tourist attraction but not the only one.Carcassonne (the old city)----------------------------------------Carcassone is the jewel of this region, like Dubrovnik is Croatia's jewel. This fortified town is the centre of the department and a fascinating place to visit. It is seperated into the fortified city and the lower part, the ville basse. It was made a UNESCO heritage site in 1997 and receives well over 3 million visitors a year.The Medieval city built in the 5th century by Euric I, king of the Visigoths surrounds the Viscount's Castle which has undergone many changes, most notably in 1229, and acted as a strong defence throughout its history. The castle now lies partly over a Roman domus and spreads across 3km of ramparts. You are able to walk around and through this castle to view the towers (52 in all) and the basilica of Saint Nazaire. Here you can take in the superb panoramic views of the whole city. The medieval cobbled streets surrounding the castle are good fun to walk around if not a little dangerous. Cobbled, narrow passages lead you to many small shops and plenty of cafes and restaurants. The Newer Part (Ville Basse)-----------------------------------------The newer part (Ville Basse) of the city is on the other side of the Aude river It dates back from the Middle Ages and was formed after the crusade. Most of it's income comes from mass tourism connected to the old city but also from boat cruises on the Canal du Midi. As Carcassonnne airport is popular with visitors from UK, Ireland and other parts of France this city, old and new is well positioned for the influx of visitors. Pyrenees Orientales (eastern)--------------------------------------------The region is split into two distinctive areas - the coastal section and the inland section. However, I have spent most time in the coastal region so will take you to two of my favourite areas.Perpignan---------------Perpignan is the main city in this area. A city of wide tree lined avenues giving you shade from the burning mediterranean sun. Courtyards and squares are in abundance with statues dotted in every corner. Narrow streets filled with stalls selling every herb and spice you can think of, fish, fruit; a muddled mixture of perfumes and aromas. History is everywhere here with the dominant palace of the Moroccan Kings dominating the town, convents and museums. Buskers playing jazz, flamenco, folk, electric - a myriad of sounds and faces. A fab place to visit for culture and to enjoy the cosmopolitan way of life. Argeles Sur Mer (coastal)-------------------------------------Argeles-sur-Mer is situated on the Mediterranean coast near the border with Spain. This section of the coast is known as the Cote Vermeille. (Pink Coast)Argeles is a not the prettist of resorts as it is quite scruffy in lots of ways but for some reason I like the wildness of it. It has a fine sandy beach interspersed with rock pools and the backdrop of the coastline is the hills of the low Pyrenees. It can get very windy at times and is known to drive the locals mad. Because of this it is popular for wind surfing.The actual town of Argeles to me has a very Spanish feel. It has a tree lined port which is picturesque, narrow streets and a bell tower you can walk up where there are super views of the area.The Gorges du Tarn------------------------------These Gorges are dramatic gorges running from Le Rozier, north of Millau, to Quézac, in the Lozère department of the Massif Central. This is in the northern part of Languedoc - Roussillon. The gorges are very deep and they follow the course of the River Tarn for 50 kilometres. Although you can see their beauty from a car and driving, the road does get busy so it is best to get out and walk around for the best views. You can if you wish hire a canoe which sounds exciting but not for me as I am a scary cat.The most extreme view is from Saint-Georges-de-Lévéjac, 15 km north of Le Rosier, at the so called 'point sublime' which has a deep view down the canyon, with cliffs on either side reaching 500 metres high.There are also several attractive villages along the route to visit, including Castelbouc and Sainte Enimie.Well I think that describes a few different places for you to visit in this region. I hoped you have enjoyed this mini tour. Not only does it have great beauty it is also famous for it's rich food, wine and weather. The beaches aren't as lovely as the Algarve's in Portugal but there is something different about this part of the Mediterranean. Possibly because the beach areas are so windswept and barren it gives it a sense of desolation. Whatever the reason it certainly is worth visiting. Bon Voyage! Close
Follow the signs to the city center – suddenly you will drive into the square in front of the cathedral. To its right a parking sign will direct you to the Marshal Foch parking garage. It is large and fairly reasonable. Or. . .…Read More
Follow the signs to the city center – suddenly you will drive into the square in front of the cathedral. To its right a parking sign will direct you to the Marshal Foch parking garage. It is large and fairly reasonable. Or. . . there is another large parking area to the left of the cathedral as well as on-street parking. If you have used the Marshall Foch garage you will find the tourist information office in the one hundred yard walk between it and the cathedral. There you can get a city map that will direct you on a walking tour through Old Rodez. The walking tour, covering much of the area behind the cathedral, features 29 sites, all of which are marked with signs and direction markers.
You shouldn’t have problems driving into Sete, just head for the town center. Alongside the harbour you will find underground (actually under water) parking at about 1.10 Euros per hour. The tourist bureau is well marked with signs on both sides of the Canal de Sete. A city map of the area will cost you one Euro although there is a mountain of other material that they will provide for free.
Pezenas has extensive parking just before you strike the city center. From the parking lot, it is no more than four or five minutes to the tourist bureau in the Place Gambetta. There, the city map will cost you two Euros (really a bit pricey). It is a good map that guides you on a tour of the older parts of the city i.e. if it doesn’t move, it’s probably on the map.
Montpellier is large, but user-friendly. It has a tramway system that starts at the Odysseum Station and moves through the center of town emerging on the other side. I suggest using Odysseum station because it’s so easy to find. If you leave the A9 at exit 29 and head toward Montpellier Center, a large traffic circle will have signage pointing you to Odysseum and the Graumont theatre complex (which is where you can leave your car). Tickets are available through a machine at the tramway station. We chose return passes and found the tramway clean, fast and modern. If you don’t mind driving your car, we saw lots of pay parking but don’t even think about driving into the historic center. We left the train just after it crossed the Lez River. That allowed us to walk right through the Antigone District into the historic section and to pick up the tram for the return ride at Place de la Comedie. You will find the main tourist bureau there, but there is a subsidiary office, open in the summer, near the Esplanade de l’Europe.
Written by mpprh on 28 Apr, 2003
As an English speaker who relocated to Languedoc, I had to do a lot of research on the area before buying a house and organising all the other things associated with moving to a new country. Later, with visitors, I researched tourist information and acted…Read More
As an English speaker who relocated to Languedoc, I had to do a lot of research on the area before buying a house and organising all the other things associated with moving to a new country. Later, with visitors, I researched tourist information and acted as guide.
I have posted a lot of thie information on my homepage. Check it out for a lot of tips about visiting and living in Languedoc!
Written by Springald on 30 Mar, 2006
Description of the Languedoc in the South of France, with extensive information resources at The Languedoc. Covers holidays, property, resorts, food and wine, activities, sports and local culture.…Read More
Description of the Languedoc in the South of France, with extensive information resources at The Languedoc. Covers holidays, property, resorts, food and wine, activities, sports and local culture. Close