Montpellier, France


Montpellier is a French commune, prefecture of the Hérault department. Capital of the former administrative region Languedoc-Roussillon, it is the center of a metropolis and a center of balance for the Occitanie region, where plenary assemblies take place. Montpellier is located in the South of France, on a major communication axis joining Spain in the west and Italy in the east. Close to the Mediterranean Sea (7.1 km), this town has as neighbors Béziers, 69 km to the south-west, and Nîmes, 52 km to the north-east.

Montpellier is, by its population, the seventh municipality in France and the third French city on the Mediterranean axis (after Marseille and Nice). It is one of the few cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants whose population has grown uninterruptedly, every year since 1945. It has almost tripled over this period to reach 285,121 inhabitants on January 1, 2017, which makes it the most populous municipality in the Hérault department and the second most populous in the Occitanie region after Toulouse. The urban unit of Montpellier has 440,896 inhabitants, the metropolis has 472,217 inhabitants and the urban area 616,296 inhabitants in 2017, i.e. the 14th in France by population. The inhabitants are called the Montpelliérains and their nickname is Clapassièrs or Clapassencs.

Since the 1990s, Montpellier has experienced one of the strongest economic and demographic growth in the country. Its urban area has experienced the highest demographic growth in France since the year 2000. Its living environment, its cultural life and finally its Mediterranean climate largely explain this craze for "the Gifted" (title of an advertising campaign in the 1990s, launched by Georges Frêche during his mandate as mayor).

With 70,000 students, it is also the city with the highest ratio of the number of students per inhabitant in France after Poitiers (21% of the total population).

In the Middle Ages, the city was an important city on the Mediterranean rim and formed one of the main cities of the Crown of Aragon - where King James I of Aragon was born - then of the kingdom of Mallorca. Above the medieval city, the old citadel of Montpellier is a stronghold built in the 17th century by Louis XIII. It is located at the foot of the historic center of Montpellier. Became the Joffre barracks at the end of the 19th century, then in 1947, the largest high school and college in the Hérault department.



The Place de la Comédie: Located between the Central Station and the old town, with the Fountain of the Three Graces (Les trois graces) by Étienne Dantoine, the Opera and the characteristic buildings. Because of its oval shape, the square is also called "the egg" (l'oeuf). It is considered the center and meeting point of the residents.
Saint Peter's Cathedral (Saint-Pierre): Built by the will of Pope Urban V at the end of the 14th century
Medical Faculty: Right next to the Cathedral, founded in 1220, it is considered one of the oldest in Europe with famous alumni such as François Rabelais.
The churches of Sainte Anne, now used as an exhibition hall, and Saint Roch in the historic center.
The Porte du Peyrou triumphal arch: built in 1691 in the Doric style, later enlarged in honor of Louis XIV, is located at the end of rue Foch, next to the Palais de Justice.
The Promenade du Peyrou: Opposite the Arc de Triomphe, built at the end of the 17th century on the highest point in Montpellier, it offers a view of the surrounding districts and the aqueduct, which also feeds the water reservoir located there with its two 22-metre-high arcades. In the center of the square is a statue of Louis XIV.
The St-Clément aqueduct: Created in the 17th century, the aqueduct stretches 800 m through the district of Les Arceaux. All the water pipe entered the city from the spring at St. Clément, 14 kilometers away, and filled a water tank near the Arc de Triomphe, from where fountains and public water points were filled.
The Jardin des plantes: The first botanical garden in France, planted in 1593.
Musée Fabre: Founded in 1828 by the painter François-Xavier Fabre, this museum is linked to an art school. The museum has one of the most important public collections of paintings in France.
Musée Atger: Art museum in the medical faculty of the University of Montpellier with drawings and prints by French, Italian and Flemish masters
Musée Fougau: folklore museum in an 18th century hôtel particulier
Pavillon Populaire: Exhibition building built in 1891 on the Esplanade Charles de Gaulle with temporary exhibitions on photography
Tour de la Babote: A former city tower, today the seat of the Astronomical Society, which runs an observatory there.
The Antigone district: East of the city center with several large monumental buildings by the Catalan architect Ricardo Bofill, built in the neoclassical style.
Medieval mikvah


Getting here

By plane
Montpellier International Airport (IATA: MPL) is to the southeast, just outside (exit 29 of the A9 Mopellier Est). A bus shuttle line 120 goes into the city to the tram station Place de Europe, from there you can take the tram.

By train
The Montpellier-Sud de France TGV train station is located south-east of the city. It is connected to the national TGV network, with the high-speed line TGV-Mediterane-Ast Paris-Montpellier (Paris-Montpellier from 3h15). Many international trains to Barcelona via Perpignan also pass through it. There are also long-distance trains via Toulouse towards the Atlantic coast.

Long-distance trains and regional trains also stop at the old main train station Gare de Montpellier Saint-Roch.

By bus
Long-distance buses from Flixbus stop in a suburb at the long-distance bus stop at the "Sabines" tram stop.

On the street
The A 9 runs south of the old town, there are three motorway exits Montpellier Est (29), Montpellier Süd (30) and Montpellier Ouest (31).


Transport around city

The transport company TaM (Transports de l'Agglomération de Montpellier) operates four tram lines in addition to a bus network.

Public transport in Montpellier is free for under 18s and over 65s. From 2023 it should generally be free.




The city is located in the South of France, 10 km as the crow flies (14 km by road) from the Mediterranean Sea in the town of Palavas-les-Flots and 64 km as the crow flies (88 km by road) from Mont Aigoual (at an altitude of 1,567 m) via the village of L'Espérou, located in the neighboring department of Gard.


Geology and relief

Montpellier is close to the Mediterranean Sea, in the south-east of the Hérault department, whose territory is defined as an amphitheater open to the sea, bordered by the Cévennes to the north-east and the Haut-Languedoc to the north-west.

Culminating at 57 meters in the Place du Peyrou (former Place Royale where the equestrian statue of Louis XIV sits enthroned), the city began to develop on two hills: Montpellier and Montpellier. Some streets are therefore very steep. The city is nicknamed: Lo Clapàs, "the pile of stones" in Occitan, because of its basic construction material, Castries stone, which is a shell limestone, creamy white in origin but which adopts a golden patina. in getting older.

The current territory extends to the hills that dominate the old town: Lunaret, Montmaur and Plan-des-Quatre-Seigneurs to the north, the Mosson district (divided into two sub-districts: La Paillade and Hauts-de-Massane) to the northwest, culminating at nearly 110 meters above sea level at the Paillade water tower.

On the left bank of the Mosson, a coastal pseudo-river that separates the Paillade district (Montpellier) from that of Fontcaude (Juvignac), a manifestation of the "Montpellier fold" is visible, near the Sophie Desmarets park.

The local landscape is especially marked by the Saint-Loup peak (658 m), located 25 kilometers north of the city of Montpellier and visible in many places in the agglomeration, such as the Peyrou promenade, as well as from the terrace from the roof of the Corum to the end of the aisles of the Esplanade.

The municipal territory covers 5,688 hectares, the 724th largest municipality in France by area (out of 36,682). Although it is not the largest municipality in the region or the department, the area is nevertheless larger than Lyon (4,787 ha), Lille (3,483 ha) or Bordeaux (4,936 ha). Almost three-fifths of the municipal territory is urbanized, but this urbanization is growing rapidly. The rest of the municipal territory is made up of green spaces, protected natural spaces (banks of the Lez, Lunaret zoological park and Montmaur wood) and agricultural areas.

About 360 ha of land are still predominantly agricultural, mainly planted with cereals and vines. Its main locations are to the east (Montaubérou, Valédeau and Flaugergues), to the south of the A9 motorway (Méjanelle, Mogère, Première écluse), to the north (Plan des 4-Seigneurs, La Valette area), to the extreme south (Petit-Grès) and west (Mas Nouguier, Château-Bon, Bionne, Rieucoulon).



Montpellier is crossed by five rivers: the Mosson, which borders the town to the west and south, one of its tributary streams, the Rieu Coulon, the Verdanson and, to the east, the Lez and the Lironde ( which has its source in the Millénaire district, in the Grande Lironde garden).

Montpellier is expanding towards the seashore with the creation of new districts to the east and then to the south of the city center (successively Antigone, Richter then Port Marianne), and under the impetus of Georges Frêche, who declared in 1977 wanting to make Montpellier “the seafront between Genoa and Barcelona”.



The climate of Montpellier is of the Mediterranean type (Csa according to the Köppen classification). This results in fairly mild temperatures (15.2°C on average), sunshine among the highest in France with only 33 days without sunshine per year, a duration of 7 h 22 min per day on average, well above the French average of 4 h 46 min; and few days of precipitation (less than 60 per year), but sometimes violent showers, especially in autumn from September to December during Mediterranean or Cévennes episodes, frequently causing flooding in the low points of the city (on average, two or three episodes per year). To date, at the level of records, we note the 320 mm fell on September 8, 1938 in the center of Montpellier and, on September 29, 2014, the 299.5 mm recorded at Montpellier airport where the meteorological station of Montpellier is located. Frejorgues.

On the contrary, summer is often arid with only a few rainfalls in August linked to thunderstorms. July is the hottest month with an average temperature of 24.1°C and January is the coldest month with an average temperature of 7.2°C. The maximum temperature record measured at the Fréjorgues weather station was 43.5°C on June 28, 2019 and the cold record was −17.8°C on February 5, 1963. On June 28, 2019, Montpellier exceeded its former record of +5.8°C, which also marks a record since it is the second highest amplitude in the world between old and new record. Nevertheless, the proximity of the sea favors the installation of a sea breeze which tempers the thermal excesses, in summer and in winter, and which is felt more when approaching the coast. Thus, the temperatures recorded at the Fréjorgues weather station, far from the city and close to the sea, are not always representative of those experienced by most Montpellier residents. For example, during the heat record of June 28, 2019, the Saint-Jean-de-Védas weather station located in conditions closer to those of the city center recorded up to 44.5 ° C, or 1 degree more than in Fréjorgues, which is very frequent in summer.

Snowfalls are rare, although it is common to observe a few white frosts. They can however be significant when torrential precipitation coming from the sea is confronted with a mass of cold air. Thus 20 centimeters of snow have already been recorded in the city on January 16, 1987 or March 8, 2010, and 30 to 40 cm on March 1, 2018.

The climate of Montpellier, like that of most cities located near the sea, is also characterized by a feeling of heat often much higher than the measured temperature, especially during the months of August to October, the Mediterranean Sea being relatively hot at this time, the sea winds bring humid and warm air to the coast. Thus, the temperature felt is regularly higher by 4 to 8 °C. For example, on September 15, 2014 at 7 p.m., a heat index (humidex) of 29 was calculated when the temperature was only 22.4°C. This difference often creates a feeling of well-being, but can sometimes lead to great discomfort, as during the heat wave of 2003, during which a heat index of over 30 was calculated for almost all nights in August.

Conversely, the mistral and the tramontane, winds coming respectively from the northeast and northwest, dry the air and are often accompanied by a feeling of wind chill (Windchill), with an often negative feeling in winter. , but sometimes, the Tramontane, by foehn effect on the Cévennes, raises the temperature, generally significantly and very quickly, in summer as in winter, day and night. In addition, relatively protected by the advance of the Cévennes reliefs and located between the respective corridors of the mistral and the tramontane which are the valleys of the Rhône and the Aude, Montpellier is the least windy city of the Gulf of Lion.



Montpellier is one of the few major French cities without an ancient background. It was first mentioned on November 26, 986, when Count Bernard de Melgueil (Melgueil corresponds to today's Mauguio) Wilhelm III. Land on the ancient Via Domitia, between the Lez and Mosson rivers, for his selfless services. His heirs built a castle that housed a chateau and a chapel. Excellently situated between Catalonia and Italy on the Via Domitia next to the port of Lattes, Montpellier quickly became a trading center with connections across the Mediterranean, Spain and Northern Europe and developed a mixed population of Jews, Muslims and Christians. Goldsmiths, cloth makers and merchants settled there, and even today you can tell from the street names in the historic center which goods were traded there. At the turn of the 13th and 14th the Montpellier University, first mentioned in 1137, which had important lecturers such as Bernhard von Gordon, reached its peak as a training center for medicine. On November 9, 1202, the dynasty of the Lords of Montpellier from the Guilhems (in German Wilhelm) family ended with the death of William VIII.

Montpellier came into the possession of the Kings of Aragon through the marriage of Marie de Montpellier to Peter II of Aragon in 1204 and her death in 1213. Montpellier was granted city rights in 1204 and the right to appoint twelve governing councilors a year. The very extensive privileges were preserved until the death of James II. In the Middle Ages, the Via Domitia was used as a pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. The Church of Notre-Dame-des-Tables in Montpellier was an important stop for pilgrims. Due to pilgrimage tourism and the expulsion of Jews and Moors from Spain, some hospitals and charitable institutions developed in Montpellier. In 1220, councilor Konrad von Urach (after 1170–1227), legate of Pope Honorius III, founded the Montpellier medical school. By the end of the thirteenth century the reputation of the school was already legendary.

In 1289 the medical school received university status from Pope Nicholas IV. The university was shaped equally by Jewish, Arabic and Christian cultures. Followers of all cultures mentioned studied there. This was an almost revolutionary state of affairs, to which the university owed its enormous progressiveness. Montpellier was founded in 1349 by King James III. of Mallorca to the French king Philip VI. sold by France to fill the war chest in the fight against Peter IV of Aragon to reconquer Mallorca. The city was the second most important in the French kingdom after Paris. But in the second half of the 14th century, the city lost more than a third of its population to plague.

At the beginning of the 15th century, the city experienced an economic boom thanks to its neighboring port of Lattes and a commercial genius named Jacques Cœur, financier of the King of France Charles VII can still be visited today and is the oldest of its kind in France. After further growth, the Bishop of Maguelone finally moved to the neighboring parish of Montpelliéret in 1536, which was later taken over by Montpellier (see Archdiocese of Montpellier). The Saint-Pierre Cathedral was built on the site of the Saint-Benoît monastery (founded in 1364). In the 16th century, the Huguenots gained increasing influence in the city, also due to the Huguenot Wars, which led to the Huguenots of France being pushed back to the south. After 36 years of war, the Edict of Nantes in 1598 brought peace to the city for the next 20 years.

Louis XIII of France waged war against the Huguenots despite the Edict of Nantes. He had the city besieged in 1622 and conquered it after two months.

But due to the strong resistance of the Huguenots, especially in La Rochelle and Montauban, the king finally recognized the Edict of Nantes in the Treaty of Montpellier on October 21, 1622. To nip any future resistance in the bud, Cardinal Richelieu had a massive citadel built just outside the city gates. Montpellier became the administrative center of the lower Languedoc. In the Edict of Fontainebleau in 1685, the Edict of Nantes was revoked and the Catholic religion was established as the only state religion. There was a mass exodus of Huguenots from France. In 1693, the Arc de Triomphe Porte du Peyrou was inaugurated in honor of Louis XIV and his victory over the Huguenots in Montpellier.

Industrialization in the 19th century transformed the city into a regional industrial hub, and in the 1960s the immigration of French Algerians (“pieds-noirs”) ensured rapid growth.

The socialist Georges Frêche was elected mayor in 1977. Under his leadership, the cityscape changed rapidly. During his tenure was u. a. built Antigone, a post-modern "Roman-style" council estate to the east of the city center. Montpellier transformed itself from a major city in southern France into a metropolis with a strong international influence. It has i.a. an international orchestra, a modern dance centre, the Corum congress center and a trade fair centre. The RadioFrance festival and the Montpellier Danse festival also take place there.

In 1943/44 the Navy maintained a naval hospital in Montpellier.



The city is an industrial center known for medical technology, metal processing, printing, chemicals, agricultural technology, textiles and wine production.



Montpellier's Aéroport International de Montpellier Méditerranée Airport is located around twelve kilometers south-east of the city center near the Mediterranean coast. The airport was used by around 1.2 million passengers in 2009.

The main train station is Montpellier-Saint-Roch in the city center, from which Paris can be reached in 3 hours 19 minutes since the completion of the LGV Méditerranée high-speed line. With the Contournement de Nîmes et Montpellier, which extends the LGV Méditerranée to the southwest, Montpellier received another station Montpellier-Sud-de-France halfway to the airport for part of the through TGV traffic.[2] A further extension of the high-speed line to Perpignan with a connection to the existing line to the Spanish border and further towards Barcelona is in the planning stage under the name of the new Montpellier-Perpignan line.

Local public transport is operated by the Transports de l'agglomération de Montpellier (TaM). This operates numerous bus lines and four tram lines in the region. A fifth tram line is under construction. The TaM also operates the Vélomagg bike rental service with 1,200 bikes. As of September 1, 2021, residents under the age of 18 and over 65 will be transported free of charge. Complimentary transportation will be extended to all residents starting December 21, 2023.

Motorway: A 9 and A 7 (via Rhône Valley) or A 75 (via the Massif Central with the viaduct at Millau between Clermont-Ferrand and Béziers)



Montpellier is now one of the largest student cities in France, along with Paris, Toulouse and Aix-en-Provence. With more than 60,000 students, every fourth resident of the city is enrolled at one of the numerous universities.

Today there are three universities in Montpellier.

In addition, there are several Grandes écoles in Montpellier:
École Nationale Supérieure de Chimie, School of Chemistry
École Nationale de l'Aviation Civile, aviation university
Institut national d'études supérieures agronomiques de Montpellier, School of Agricultural Sciences
Montpellier Business School, business school

Montpellier is also home to one of two French faculties of Protestant theology, the Institut Protestant de Théologie. It has the status of an independent faculty, the Faculté de Théologie Protestante de Montpellier. Since 1972 it has formed the Institut Protestant de Théologie with the Faculté de Théologie Protestante de Paris. Since 2006 there has been mutual recognition of study achievements with the Université Paul-Valéry-Montpellier III; since 2007 the faculty has also participated in the Ecoles Doctorales of this university.



Rugby: Montpellier HRC, formed by a merger in 1986, is the city's sporting flagship and plays in the top-flight French Top 14 league and in the European Champions Cup competition, which they won in the 2015/16 season. Home is the Stade Olympique Yves-du-Manoir, built in 2007 and artistically designed. Montpellier was one of the venues for the Rugby World Cup 2007. Matches are planned in Montpellier again for the Rugby World Cup 2023.
Handball: Montpellier is the home of the French handball champions Montpellier HB, which was founded in 1982 and is one of the most successful clubs in French handball and plays in the first-class French Star League.
Football: Montpellier HSC, founded in 1974, plays in the top-class French Ligue 1 and plays its home games at the Stade de la Mosson, built in 1972. In the 2011/12 season, the club became French football champions for the first time.
Cycling: Montpellier was a stage destination of the Tour de France in 1993, 1994, 2005, 2007, 2011 and 2013.
Karate: In 2016 the city was the venue of the 51st European Karate Championship.