Montpellier, southern France, is a dynamic city with a rich heritage. An expanding new town is famous for its innovative architecture, and it’s just a tram ride from the gorgeous beaches. But the old town of Montpellier is where most visitors head.
Here’s our head’s up on some of the best foodie experiences in Montpellier…
Trendy bars in Montpellier
In this lively city, there’s no shortage of bars to choose from. If you’re looking for somewhere with a relaxed vibe and great wine list, L’Atelier Bar a Vin in Place de la Canourgue is pretty hard to beat. Locals love it but visitors rarely find this romantic square, the oldest in Montpellier, from where you have a wonderful view over the St Pierre Cathedral.
For sheer glamour, the terrace of the Hotel Mercure is perfect for an aperitif in its lush green courtyard (you don’t have to be resident to enjoy it).
Any visit to Montpellier must include the Place de la Comédie, the beating heart of the city nicknamed L’Oeuf (the egg) thanks to its oval shape. Here you’ll find Café Riche, an institution as much for locals as for tourists, and for people watching – it’s perfect.
Where to eat out
Authentic: Halles Laissac
Market fans will adore the covered market Halles Laissac which opened at the end of 2018. With its vibrant stained glass dome designed by a student and teacher team from the MoCo (Montpellier Contemporary Art ecosystem) Ecole Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, this emporium of food is open daily. You’ll find a delicious array of food including macarons made by a master pâtissier, cheeses, Corsican specialities, charcuterie and fresh baked bread. There’s a bar here and one of the best things about Halles Laissac is that you can buy your food and then dine at the tables and chairs provided inside and out - the perfect market picnic.
Trendy: Café Joseph
Café Joseph on Place Jean Jaurès in the heart of Montpellier is the place to go. The locals know it as Café Jo and it’s open seven days a week (many restaurants close on Sunday and Monday in Montpellier). Waiters dash about deftly managing trays of food wafting the sort of fragrance that induces nostril quivering anticipation. It’s good for lunch and even better for dinner when lights twinkle overhead and buskers perform in the animated square and the air is filled with the sound of happy chatter. Here you get that special feeling you only get when you’re on holiday and totally relaxed. Great for people watching and the menu is terrific - dishes that are perfect for summer days and nights (the tapas and salads are especially delicious), and the cocktail list is irresistible.
Charming: La Place
In a tiny square hidden in the backstreets of Montpellier, Place Saint-Ravy is a magnet for locals in the know. Once the Palace of the Kings of Majorca who, many hundreds of years ago were also Lords of Montpellier, stood here but now the medieval buildings have been converted to restaurants including La Place. Dine outside at tables placed around a tinkling fountain - it’s the ideal place to get a feel for ancient Montpellier whilst enjoying truly scrumptious dishes. Dine inside and enjoy the cool stone and vaulted ceilings in an intimate dining area.
Don’t miss: Le Grillardin
If you only have time to go to one restaurant in Montpellier, then make it Le Grillardin in the little Place de Chappelle Neuve. In a shady square surrounded by beautiful old buildings with pastel blue shutters of a shade of the most perfect blue, faded over decades, perhaps centuries. It’s a divine setting which nourishes the soul as much as the delicious dishes satisfy your inner gourmet. Tables spill out from the restaurant onto the square. Servers dash about explaining (in English if required) what’s on the menu. Tables fill quickly here so book in advance or get there for 7.30 when service starts. It’s loved by the locals and no wonder…
Montpellier tourism: www.montpellier-france.com
Find out more about what’s on and where to visit in France: https://uk.france.fr/en