Montpellier: the joys of Mediterranean life
Bright and friendly, Montpellier lives to the rhythm of its markets, its terraces, and the ‘Midi accent' of its inhabitants.
Montpellier is a quintessential southern city, a little piece of Provence caressed by light breezes redolent with sea scents and scrubland heated by the sun. It is a city of contrasts: proud of its thousand-year history and entrenched in a palpable living memory at every turn of the medieval streets that cross it, it nonetheless also looks to the future. Christian Lacroix has coloured its tramway and Jean Nouvel and Philippe Starck have helped to redesign its architecture. It thus seems to hesitate between heritage and modernity...
For the visitor, there is another, less weighty dilemma to consider: Which way to go? Should I head to the nearby sea with its untamed, scenic beaches and lively resorts, not to mention the salt ponds and pools of the Camargue, with its wild horses and wondrous wildlife?Or should I head into the hills, which are never far away, to the sunny slopes of the Languedoc and Pic Saint-Loup vineyards, proudly standing sentinel?
Not a dilemma at all really, but a question of balance and unity. Montpellier is indeed a city of fusions, like its Antigone district, which is a modern reinterpretation of an ancient heritage. Or its gastronomy, which combines like no other the products of the earth with those of the sea in highly innovative ways.
Life is easy in the shade of the plane trees that line the Place de la Canourgue or the ‘circulades' of the historic Écusson district, lulled by the murmur of the city's 100 fountains and the accent of its inhabitants, animated by the joyous Arceaux market bazaar. Let yourself be won over by the spirit of the city, which is free, passionate, and friendly. Festive also, with the youthful support of its student population and the delicious local wines that would raise the lowest spirits. Carpe diem!