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Montpellier is the eighth largest, and the fastest growing city in France.
It is the largest city on the Mediterranean coast after Marseille and Nice. The climate is therefore typically Mediterranean: mild winters and hot dry summers.
First mentioned in a historical document dating from 985, the city was founded in the Middle Ages, and unlike most large cities in France, it shows no sign of early Roman or Greek history. It is known instead for its medieval history and tis significant Spanish population, heritage and influence.
There’s plenty to see and do for French language students in Montpellier.
Stroll around the historical centre where Montpellier’s medieval roots are most visible and where you can also admire a number of private mansions (hotels particuliers) established over the centuries. Walk under the Arc the Triomphe (see right) or relax on the Place de la Comédie named after the Opéra built in 1988 (see above). Visit the faculty of Medicine where French author Rabelais studied, or see the oldest botanical garden in France.
When going around Montpellier, look out for trompe l’oeil frescoes and for the many contemporary work of arts displayed along the Tramway line.
The Sainte Anne neighbourhood is a great gathering place for artists and creators with a long tradition of violin making and music teaching. And for paintings, visit the Musée Fabre which displays paintings from the Nineteenth century, or walk in the many museums and art galleries showing ancient to modern art.
Montpellier is a dynamic city with a large student population.
The University of Montpellier is one of the oldest in the world: founded in 1160 and suppressed during the French revolution, it was re-established in 1896. Today there are three universities in Montpellier, as well as a number of graduate schools (Grandes Ecoles) specialising in Business and Scientific subjects (aviation, technology, computer science, agronomy, architecture).
Getting around Montpellier is easy. The tramway was described by the New York Times as Europe’s sexiest tram system, and like in most French cities, there is a bycicle rental scheme. Bike paths from Montpellier lead to all the local beaches.
Capital of the Hérault Department, Montpellier is a great place from which to explore the South of France.
Montpellier is also right at the centre of a wine making region and offers many places to taste wine. Around the city, many rich merchants built extravagant chateaux called follies. Many of these elaborate manor houses are open to visitors.
And if you are willing to go further out, you can easily take trips to famous UNESCO heritage sites such as the Pont du Gard a well preserved Roman aqueduct, the walled city of Carcassone, the Canal du Midi, the Camargue marshlands famous for its pink flamingos and wild horses.
French language students will enjoy a typical French experience in Montpellier and appreciate the variety of activities available in and around the city.