Kick start your day with a coffee at Café Riche on Place de la Comédie. Take a seat on the terrace of this 1893 institution, soak up the epicentre of Montpellier everyday life and get your bearings. Energized, now head off along Rue Loge and explore the pedestrianized paved streets of L’Écusson, or the Medieval old town, filled with 17th- and 18th-century hôtels particuliers. Stop off at St Peter’s cathedral and savour its gothic glory and if that’s got you in the mood, nip into the Anatomy Museum. Housed in the former cloister of the Saint-Benoît monastery adjacent, pre-book a guided tour of their gruesome collections.
For a romantic antidote, head to the neighbouring Jardins des Plantes – France’s oldest botanical gardens. Created in 1593, it’s home to more than 2,500 plant species, including medicinal plants, an arboretum of rare trees, as well as a glorious greenhouse dating from 1860. From here, you can saunter over to the Arc de Triomphe, a glorifying monument to Louis XIV. This 17th-century structure is the gateway to the city and the wonderful promenade de Peyrou, which leads you past an equestrian statue of Louis XIV to a wonderfully serene chateau d’eau water tower, where you’ll be treated to sweeping views of the Roman arches of the Saint Clément aqueduct. Take note: the Marché des Arceaux market is held under the arches every Sunday!
As evening falls and hunger strikes, dine at Bojan whose seasonal menu changes with the day’s market inspiration. The 15-seater restaurant makes for a cosy, intimate dining experience, topped off with local organic wines. Retire for the night to the wonderfully sumptuous Baudon de Mauny hotel, a centrally-located 18th-century townhouse that oozes contemporary designer flair.
The following morning, start the day with a trip to Musée Fabre. Founded in 1825 by painter François-Xavier Fabre, it’s home to some of the country’s richest collections of European art, from Old Masters to Modern Movements, including Rubens, Courbet and sculptor Bourdelle. After indulging in so much culture, enjoy the rest of your stay at the beach. Take the short journey by bus or tram – or even use pedal power – and make the most of the end-of-summer sun.
First flight to be operated on April 1st 2020, Luxair offers up to 2 weekly flights to Montpellier from €139 return including taxes, services included at no extra cost.