Montpellier, the Little Paris of the South
Our next step is Montpellier or as we call it since then the little Paris of the South.
Just like Toulouse, Montpellier is a student city with one third of population being students. However, unlike Toulouse, you can feel their presence very well here.
When we first arrived in Montpellier, it was the evening and the downtown was full with joyful and laughing young men and women.
And when we went to the city in the daytime, our first impression was, “It is a little Paris, just in the South”.
Montpellier is one of the few major French cities that was originally founded neither by Romans, nor by Greeks, but by French people themselves. Nowadays, it is the 8th largest city in France.
By the end of the sixties Montpellier was a target for a numerous immigration wave from Algeria. In the ten following years the economy grew rapidly and the government decided to extend the old city centre by building several contemporary buildings that now became a symbolic part of the city.
First of them is Tower Le Triangle that from the beginning on hosts a publishing house and bookshop Sauramps. Le Triangle is the highest buildings in the city.
The second building is Polygone – a three level shopping centre.
On the other side of Polygone, there is a neighbourhood called Antigone that connects the city centre with the river Le Lez via an esplanade.
Just like the two buildings mentioned before, this neighbourhood is built in the neo-classical style.
After sitting by the thin and calm river for a little while, we went back to the central square Place de la Comédie. At such a beautiful and wide-spaced square we could not resist to spend some time in the cafe and chose one of the oldest cafes of the city, Grand Café Riche – it exists since the year 1983.
And now it was time to walk through the ancient part of the city.
What we wanted to see was the University of Montpellier. Established in 1289 it is one of the oldest universities of the world. It is however known that a medical school existed there already in 1137. This school was included into the university and nowadays it is the oldest still operating faculty of medicine in the world.
Here is a view from the inner garden.
The evening was coming, so we went back.
Like other Southern French cities Montpellier has little squares, surrounded with cafes and restaurants open from the early morning till night.
Another interesting fact we read was that this city is sometimes referred to as France’s second gay city after Paris. We went to the bar restaurant Le 5 by la Voile to have a couple of drinks and realised that we were sitting in a special gay-friendly bar.
And there it was, we had to leave Montpellier and decided for car-sharing. The meeting point was at Odysseum, another part of the city that is worth mentioning. It is a spacious entertainment area with a cinema, shopping centre and interactive museums. And in case, you will be travelling by to or from Montpellier by Bla-Bla-Car the meeting point will most probably be the McDonald’s free parking area at Odysseum.