Over 24,000 steps and five hours of travel time later, I can say I’ve experienced the charming city of Montpellier in the south of France. In 2017, I took my first day trip to Montpellier, France, to meet up with my French pen pal, Wendy. But since moving back to France in 2020, I wanted to explore Montpellier even more. My good friend Kelly lives in Albi, and Montpellier was more or less the halfway meeting spot for us. This quaint, little big city is sure to charm you with its cobblestone streets and boutiques. After several mini trips, here are some of my favorite things to do in Montpellier, France.
Promenade du Peyrou
Easily my favorite site of the day! Just minutes after hopping off the train, Wendy took me to this darling courtyard. Even though we couldn’t go inside the pavilion, I enjoyed walking up the steps to enjoy some epic views of the city.
Cathédrale Saint Pierre
Read: idyllic small French town. Even though I didn’t go inside, this huge and majestic castle-like cathedral was worth a look.
La Place du Comédie
This city square boasts a cute carousel, cafes, shops, a flea market and fountain all overlooked by the city’s opera house.
With my alarm going off before 5 a.m. to make my train (which I missed—but that’s a story for another day), I was ready for an early lunch, and that meant restaurants still served breakfast food. (And I’m a sucker for a good omelet!) At Café Riche I ordered an omelet with ham and cheese along with a strawberry peach smoothie because it was blazing outside. The omelet’s portion size was very generous, and I felt très fancy with my sophisticated smoothie. And to top it off, this café is located in La Place du Comédie, which means convenience and a view.
I’m not much of a bookworm, but for some reason, I absolutely love bookstores. And when it’s in a foreign language in a different country, there’s so much more exploring to do. It’s pretty difficult to miss the huge bookstore from the street; it’s a worth a stroll to enjoy some shade and culture.
Stroll through Polygone
Because what’s vacation without shopping?! I’ve been to malls before, but shopping in a foreign language and culture is a completely different experience. At Polygone, Wendy and I stopped at Moa to get some shades for the beach, and the Monoprix provided me with some orange San Pellegrino for the beach (which made it onto my top 5 list for June).
Kelly and I started off our day with blueberry pancakes from Joy Healthyfood. I’m gluten-intolerant and she’s vegan, so it’s no small task finding somewhere suitable to eat for the both of us. But Joy Healthyfood fit the bill with these flavorful pancakes and chai tea lattes. I was pleasantly surprised and finished every last bite. The space is thoughtfully decorated and also includes a yoga studio.
I could browse through jewelry shops for hours and fell instantly in love with its dainty, stylish earrings, bracelets and necklaces from this Bordeaux jewelry brand. If you like souvenirs that you wear again and again, l’Atelier d’Amaya must be on your list.
Les Demoiselles de Montpellier
Another win for us gluten-free and vegan gals, Les Demoiselles de Montpellier was packed the moment we walked in. We picked up pastries to enjoy in between our sightseeing stops. I enjoyed a piece of gluten-free chocolate cake topped with caramelized peanuts. This cute cafe is filled with plants and offers brunch and lunch along with their pastries.
Marché du Lez
We’d read good things about the Marché du Lez, which is outside the city center but still accessible with the tram. It’s an indoor food hall along with several shops. We went in hopes of browsing the shops but were bummed that it was mainly eats — only because we’d already eaten lunch. And we also went in the middle of the afternoon around 3 or 4 p.m., and many stalls had closed for an afternoon pause. In retrospect, we should’ve made that our lunch spot.
And now for the best part of our day trip: Restaurant l’Angelus. If you’re looking for a classy dinner with an interior marked by stone archways and chic lighting, this is the spot. It’s the perfect spot for a romantic dinner or, if you’re like us, two American gals living up their expat life in southern France. I ordered the duck with seasoned vegetables in a honey sauce, and I did all but lick my plate. Absolutely divine! We were bummed that we had to rush to make our train and that we couldn’t stay for dessert.
Although the commute was about an hour for our crew, the Mediterranean Sea offers fantastic views. The large seaside rocks and cityscape framing the sea were a dream. Our group had fun playing with crabs, climbing the rocks and eating ice cream.
I wish my visit to Montpellier wouldn’t have been so rushed, but at least I can add another postcard to my collection. Happy traveling!