Travel Like a Local: Must See in Montpellier
April 7, 2019
by VERONICA YE
Montpellier is a glamorous student city in the south of France. You will have the great chance to explore the boutique stores in the old town, sipping the 2 EU ‘best’ wine on the grass and drink coffee with your friends at a patio under the sun…
Key highlight: Plaza de la Comedie, good weather, young
Being attracted by the awesome weather and great life in southern France, I decided to share my experience after staying here for half a year as a master student.
I tried to explore as many places as I could (touristy attractions, shopping centers, coffee shops, etc.). I am always awed by the ancient French architecture and endless wine culture here. I listed 3 things locals do almost every weekend in Montpellier. If you want to visit Montpellier like a local for 1 day, keep reading!!
Estimated time: 1 day
Budget: 10 EU for lunch (plat du jour), 2-3 EU for beer/wine during happy hour
- 70% of the people are under 30 years old. From my point of view, most people are in their high school/university. As a master student, I feel like everyone looks way younger than me when I am walking on the street…
- There are more than 300 sunny days in a year. It is 20 ish degrees all the time. It would be the perfect place to retire if I could choose. The weather is definitely what I appreciate the most after I decided to move here.
- Cheek kissing: people do 3 times kissing on the cheek! (not 2 times like Paris). When I met someone from Paris, it is always super awkward because we are not sure how many kisses are we supposed to give to each other. We always ended up laughing at each other.
Explore Place de la Comédie
one day in Montpellier
Highlight: Live performance, walk, boutique
Place de la Comedie is the center of the city. The plaza is surrounded by the Three Graces (the fountain) and the Opéra Comédie.
You can see people sipping coffee at the patio, roaming around with friends, having pizza in the restaurants, etc. You will immediately feel the laid-back southern France vibe once you step on the ground.
As a local, my favorite thing to do is to meet up with my friend and walk around in the old town. There are lots of boutiques, shops, local clothing stores to explore. You will be amazed by the unique designs.
There are also performances if you are lucky: dancing, singing, magic shows. It is a great place to explore the local culture.
Tip: However, if you are planning to take a drink at this place, you might get overcharged. Drinks here are more expensive than a regular bar in Montpellier because it is always full of tourists.
Highlight: view, wine
If you have been to Paris, this would not surprise you at all.
Yes, in almost every single city in France, there is always an ‘Arch’. But this one in Montpellier is a smaller vision of the Arch in Paris. However, there are fewer tourists and you can take as many pictures as you want.
As a local, what I usually do with friends is that we would buy some wine and sit on the grass near the Arch. You can see a bunch of students reading books, chatting and drinking wine. This is a typical weekend for most French students.
Locals are deeply in love with the wine culture. There are no better things than drinking wine with your friends on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
Also, after you pass through the Arch, you will see the highest part of Montpellier: Promenade de Peyrou.
Tip: This is the only place that you will be able to see the whole view of Montpellier. You can see the beautiful architecture when you are standing at the top.
Drink Coffee at Panaceé
the best cafe in Montpellier
Keywords: patio, coffee
I have never seen a coffee shop like this in my life!
Panaceé is definitely one of the best coffee places in Montpellier. It is more than a place to work, it is a cozy area to chill with friends in the summer. It is a place for you to realize that ‘I am living in the moment’.
Panaceé has excellent interior design, a wonderful patio and even an art exposition. You can work on your project in the café, or enjoy the sunshine in the afternoon, or simply view the newest drawing.
The espresso here costs around 1-2 EU. It is the typical price in France. Because for French people, they do not see Latte/ Coffee with milk as ‘Coffee’. Yes, French people only drink espresso !! They think that is the one and only coffee.
Tip: This place is open until 12 AM in the evening. If you want to be fully immersed in the local French artsy culture, this is definitely the place to go. However, the wifi here is not very good. If you are looking for a place to work, this might not be the perfect place for you.
Nightlife in Chupitos
Highlight: drink, shot
Because it is a student town, you can see more people during night time.
Locals started to drink at bars at around 8 pm-12pm, and maybe head to a club after 12 pm. There are lots of ‘happy hour’ promotions in the bars in Montpellier, usually, it is around 6pm-9pm depends on the place.
For my favorite place, I would recommend you go to Chupitos. There are more than 200 shots available in the bar, and it only costs 2.5 EU for one shot all night every night.
The place itself is fairly small, the security always stops the place from getting too crowded (usually 20-30 people). There are always lots of students inside the bar because of the affordable & amazing shots.
Tip: ask for the one with orange, it is the best shot I have ever had in my life.
However, there is almost no place to sit in the bar. Most people just use the space as a pre-drink spot. After, they would either head to a club or another bar to chill.
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June 22, 2019
Great article! I lived in Montpellier for almost a year and have to vouch for these places! La Panacee was my absolute favorite and I loved how it was open so late.