11 things to do in a day in Montpellier, France

Best 10 things to do and see in ecusson, montpellier

Top 10 things to do and see in ecusson, montpellier

Best 10 things to do and see in ecusson, montpellier

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Ecusson, the old town of Montpellier, is the vibrant center of this southern French city. From people looking out on the picturesque Plaza de la Comedie to find a gem of a restaurant tucked away in a vast network of winding streets, there is something for everyone in Ecusson. Here we take a look at the top ten things to do and see in the area.


St. Pierre de Montpellier Cathedral

Montpelier Cathedral, more appropriately and locally known as Saint Pierre de Montpelier Cathedral, is undoubtedly one of the most impressive buildings in Ecusson. Founded in the 14th century, this Roman Catholic Gothic church suffered considerable damage during the Protestant and Catholic wars of religion in sixteenth-century southern France. It was eventually rebuilt in the 17th century, making it the only medieval church in Ecusson to survive those wars. Huge circular columns, each over 4, 5 meters in diameter, and a huge circular stained glass window at the north end of the church make for impressive viewing.

6, bis rue l’Abbé-Marcel-Montels, 34000 Montpellier, France

Place de la Comédie

No visit to Montpellier would be complete without a visit to Place de la Comédie. As the center of the city’s transportation network from which the rest of the city will emerge, it would be hard to avoid it anyway. The square, as the historic crossroads of the city, presents an interesting melange of architectural influences that provide excellent photo opportunities. At the southern end stands the imposing 18th-century opera house that gives the square its name, while the northern end gives way to the Charles de Gaulle esplanade. There are many bars and restaurants around the edges of the square, so you can get away from the hours people are looking at your heart.

Place de la Comédie, 34000 Montpellier, France


Musée Fabre.

The very easily accessible Musée Fabre should be on everyone’s list of things to do in Montpellier. This ideally located nineteenth-century art museum is just a two-minute walk from Place de la Comédie. It is the largest in Montpellier and is home to an extensive collection of art spanning many centuries and many artistic movements. Of particular note are paintings donated by a number of artists from the Languedoc-Roussillon region, including Montpellier-born artist François-Xavier Fabre, who donated many of his works (and his name) to the museum.

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39, boulevard Bonne Nouvelle, 34000 Montpellier, France



Ecusson’s streets are lined with stores, from small independent boutiques to the ubiquitous big names, high-end stores found in cities around the world. For a taste of chic French fashion, head to Polygone Shopping Center, right behind Place de la Comédie and home to the world-famous Lafayette Galleries. If you’re after something even more unique, hit the streets, where tiny bookstores, high-end designer boutiques, and even handmade doll stores can be found on every corner of small, winding alleyways.

Pavillon Populaire

“The Pavillon Populaire Écusson is a contemporary art exhibition space that is open year-round, free to the public. It showcases the work of nationally and internationally renowned photographers tackling very diverse themes and topics, from the work of Parisian photographer Robert Doinault to the Linda McCartney retrospective. Exhibitions are always changing, so check the City of Montpelier’s website to see what’s going on during your visit. After you’re done viewing the du jour exhibition, the nearby park is a great place to relax and unwind on warm and sunny days.

Charles de Gaulle Esplanade, 34000 Montpellier, France


Basilique Notre-Dame-des-Tables

The breathtaking Notre-Dame-des-Tables Basilique, in the center of Ecusson, has a long and difficult history, inextricably linked to the turbulent religious history of Montpellier itself. The Baroque Roman Catholic church was built in the early 18th century. The tiny cobblestone streets leading up to its building only make it more impressive. The intricately detailed interior and exterior differ greatly from Montpellier Cathedral, and the magnificent stained-glass windows and giant 18th-century organ are worth seeing.

43, rue de l’Aiguillerie, 34000 Montpellier, France


An example of local cuisine

For such a small area, Écusson is filled with high-quality bars, cafes and restaurants where you can sit down with friends for a glass of wine or enjoy a meal on one of the many outdoor terraces to make the most of Montpellier’s sunshine. This neighborhood offers gourmet French cuisine with Argentine empanadas, with buns, burritos and buns in between. Only a few kilometers from the Mediterranean Sea, the fresh seafood restaurants in town (Andromaque is one of the favorites) are definitely worth a try.


Porte du Pêyrou

Porte du Pêyrou, marking the westernmost point of Ecusson, is the very own arc of the Montpellier triangle (no, it’s not). A small version of the majestic Parisian landmark, of which the provincial architect Augustin-Charles d’Avilaire was inspired, the Porte du Pêyrou was built in 1691 in honor of the “sun king” Louis XIV. Standing 15 meters high and 18 meters wide, this triumphal arch was erected at one of the highest points of the city, making it a visible landmark in all of Ecusson. On certain days of the year, you can climb to the top of the arch, where the view of the neighboring Sadni du Peyroux is unimpressive.

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Petit Train de Montpellier

For a pleasant but enjoyable way to see the best that Écusson has to offer, look no further than the Petit Train de Montpellier, this southern French city will take a more traditional sightseeing bus. The train departs several times a day from Place de la Comédie and slowly makes its way through the narrow streets of the old town of Écusson. The ride takes you to all the major sights, squares and landmarks in the city center with an accompanying commentary in ten different languages. If you visit the many sights of Montpelier, you’re tired of choosing Petit Train, relax and unwind as you continue to visit the cultural attractions of Ecusson.



You may seem helplessly lost in the maze that is the old city of Montpellier, but that’s all there is to its old-world charm – pounding the sidewalks is the best way to explore this quaint neighborhood. Because Écusson is a very compact network of winding streets, you’ll feel more lost than you really are – walk in any direction for a few minutes and you’ll either come out the other side or accidentally stumble upon an established landmark. Even better, you may find a hidden gem, far from the sight of those less adventurous visitors who have stayed on the Place de la Comedie.

Montpellier: what to see in 1 day?


Montpellier is one of the largest cities in the south of France and, although it is not part of the Côte d’Azur, is still a seaside resort. The rich history of the city has made it one of the most important tourist centers of the country, so one day to explore it is definitely not enough. If your trip is limited to one day (e.g., you’re passing through or traveling through the south by car), you’ll need an itinerary of the top attractions in Montpelier.

Where do I start to walk around Montpellier?

Most visitors arrive in the city by train, so we start our itinerary at Montpellier train station. But in principle, all of Montpellier’s iconic sites are fairly compact, with Place de la Comédie at their center. Almost all tours start from this square and from the tourist office next to it.

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Babot Tower

However, on the way to the square we recommend making a small detour to see the amazing 12th century tower, the Tour de la Babote, known as the Montpellier Observatory. In the long history of this building, it has seen all sorts of things, and the observatory even several times. And now it houses the Society for Popular Amateur Astronomy. There is a legend that when Sebastien Lenorman invented the parachute in 1783 he tested it from this very tower.

Fountain of the Three Graces

The Place de la Comédie is the main square of Montpellier, with a straight street leading to it from the train station. This is where the tourist office is located, where you can check out the tours offered, pick up a map and get comprehensive information about the city.

If you’re going to continue your walking tour on your own, you can grab a bite to eat while admiring the Three Graces fountain on Place de la Comédie, to get your strength up before the promenade. There are plenty of cozy cafes here that will treat you to delicious coffee, a hearty lunch, and a divine dessert.

Montpellier’s main squares

Place de la Comédie

After lunch, admiring the Opera National de Montpellier on your left, you can head further into the Aragonese Quarter, as it’s called the Old City.

From the square head northwest along the pedestrian street amusingly named The Lodge and you’ll gradually emerge from the realm of boutiques and stores into an ancient city full of medieval buildings and historic sites. Along the way, you will have to explore the Place des Martyrs-de-la-Résistance (Place Jean Jaurès and the Martyrs of the Resistance).

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Peyroux Gate

After the Place des Martyrs de la Résistance, the alley of the Loges turns into the Avenue Foch, which ends with the triumphal arch of the Gates de Peyroux. The arch, built at the end of the 17th century and dedicated to the Sun King Louis XIV. The arch opens the entrance to the grandiose royal square of Peyroux.

In the center of the square stands the monument to Louis XIV, at the far end of the arch are the structures of the ancient aqueduct: a graceful water tower and three reservoirs filled with water. It’s the highest point in Montpellier and offers breathtaking views of the city’s ancient quarters, which will enchant you no less than the Marais quarter in Paris.

Water Tower

Montpellier Botanical Gardens and University

After a walk around Place Peyroux you should head north and after a few minutes you’ll find yourself in the Montpellier Botanical Gardens, the oldest in all of France. The garden was founded at the end of the 16th century (1593!) as an apothecary garden for the local medical university. If you come here in April you’ll see the garden in full bloom!

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In addition to the shady alleys and 3,000 different species of plants, the Botanical Garden also boasts busts of notable personalities. Among them the scientist Carl Linnaeus and the great writer François Rabelais, who once studied at the University of Montpelier. Many tourists note that this place is as unusual and beautiful as the Luxembourg Garden.

To the east of the Botanical Gardens on the other side of Boulevard Henri IV is the university building itself at 2 rue École des Médecins. The Faculty of Medicine was opened as early as the beginning of the XII century, and at the end of the century the Pope’s bull proclaimed the opening of the university. For centuries it was the main rival of the Sorbonne in Paris as a scientific center. In addition to Rabelais, Nostradamus was a famous student of the Faculty of Medicine.

Now in its various buildings, old and new, there are more than 60 thousand students, which makes Montpellier one of the “youngest” cities in France, because every fourth local resident is a student. For the tourist is of great interest is the Museum of Anatomy, located in the building. Also belongs to the university complex and the cathedral.

St. Peter's Cathedral

As the theater begins with a hanger, so any ancient European city begins with the city’s cathedral. Montpellier’s main religious center is the Cathedral of St. Peter in the Square of the same name in the old city of Montpellier. The square itself is situated at the junction of the Rue Cardinal de Cabrières, Rue Saint-Pierre and the Rue Ecol de Madsan. The long-suffering cathedral, built in the XIV century in early Gothic style, was practically destroyed during the religious wars between Catholics and Huguenots, so its majestic decor and interior decoration is the work of restorers of the XVIII and XIX centuries.

Through the ancient streets of Montpellier

The Old Streets of Montpellier

Head east through the ancient streets of the Aragonese Quarter and you’ll come to the Fabra Museum, situated in the former Jesuit college on Boulevard Bon Nouvelle. 39. Seeing the paintings of the great painters of various European countries (from Rubens and Caravaggio to Renoir, Manet and Degas) will be a wonderful break in the walking promenade through the streets of Montpellier. With its variety of paintings, the museum is very similar to the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

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End your walk in the park across from Boulevard Bon Nouvelle, which runs through the esplanade of Charles de Gaulle. The quiet plane-tree walks, water cascades and artificial waterfalls make it a favorite place for locals and tourists, especially on hot summer days. The southern end of the park faces Place de la Comédie, where our route began.

Despite its rich heritage, the historic center of Montpellier is compact, so it is not necessary to repeat this route. You can simply head north or west from the Place de la Comédie and wander through the quiet streets of the Aragonese Quarter. Sooner or later, all of the city’s major attractions will meet on their own on your way.

The quarter of Antigone


The length of our route is only 5 km. If this is too short a walk for you, you can continue to explore Montpellier. Head east from Place de la Comédie. This part of the city up to the banks of the river Lez is named after the ancient Greek character Antigone.

This quarter can be called modern, its construction began in 1978. You’d be surprised how beautiful and meticulously designed the urban space can be. Wide alleys, perfect lawns, austere architecture with an ancient Greek touch. Young Montpellier is as much in love as the old.

Where to stay in Montpellier?

Grand Hotel Montpellier

The city is especially popular among tourists due to the proximity of the Mediterranean Sea. So there are a lot of hotels in it and you can easily find something suitable if you want to stay longer. Some of the best hotels in the city according to the reviews of visitors are:

    Avenue Jean Mermo, 10; 3*, Avenue de Pont Jouvenal, 1; 4*, rue de la Cologne, 2; 3*, Avenue de la Cologne, 4. 1; 4*, rue Clos René, bd. 3.

All these hotels are centrally located near Place de la Comédie. Their authentic design and convenient location will allow you to fully immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the city.

We hope that you will enjoy walking through the city. Take the time to go to bed early in the summer – every Friday there is a festival in the streets with tastings of local Languedoc dishes and wines. Write us in the comments if you’ve been to Montpelier before.

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