IMG_6946We recently made a nice day trip to Montpellier. We usually do our “big city” shopping in Toulouse, but we decided to mix it up. It’s an extra half-hour drive, but it feels completely different than Toulouse–Montpellier lies on the Mediterranean coast, and its stately avenues are lined with palm trees.

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Streets lined with palm trees and trams covered with flowers.

We didn’t get outside the city center; in fact, we didn’t even explore all of the city center. So much to see! Especially since I had to stop every few steps to gasp, and then photograph, the over-the-top architectural details.

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Note that there’s another pair on the left side of the arch.
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I would call that look one of disdain.
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The sky was really that blue. Giant women, lions, curlicue ironwork…excess is not enough here.
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To give you an idea of the size of that door.

The center of Montpellier is an interesting mix of tiny streets and big squares. The center has been off-limits to cars since 2004, when Montpellier created France’s largest pedestrian-only zone–24 kilometers without traffic.

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Definitely not made for cars.

IMG_6945Place de la Comédie, above and in the top photo, is enormous, full of people passing through or hanging out, yet not crowded.

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A jazz trio. They were good! (The yellow jackets in the background were encouraging people to quit smoking–this was taken before the protests.)
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An art installation for the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI.

Small streets open up to little squares, always filled with café tables, which were always bustling.

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Folks sitting outside for a coffee … in NOVEMBER.

I loved everything about this street–the turret made me stop, but then I saw it has a tiny arched window! And look at that “balcony” full of plants. And the double-extension window boxes on the left!P1100787On rue de la Loge, brass circles in the street mark the Camin Roumieu, one of the main routes to Compostella, linking Arles and Toulouse. P1100792P1100793So you have to look down, but you also have to look up!

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Those are some big earrings.
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One of the allegoric faces on the Opéra Comédie, which are supposed to represent Comedy, Tragedy, Song and Poetry. Which one is this?
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More is more.
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Lions plus faces in the ironwork.

There are other kinds of artwork as well.P1100783

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Can you even see the trompe d’oeil? It’s well done.

Montpellier is a lovely city. I can’t compare it with Carcassonne, which is like a big village. Montpellier is much more go-go, with people walking quickly, shops full of quirky stuff and restaurants touting the latest health crazes. In Carcassonne, one sees little old retirees wearing pajamas and slippers as they walk their dogs, not very early, either.P1100790Chic shops! Arches! No cars! A ROOM OVER THE STREET! I’d love to know what’s in there and who lives there.

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And under the arch, a cross marked 1623. Chapelle Saint-Foy is the oldest in Old Montpellier, but only because the older stuff came down in a siege in 1622. Stuff like this makes me fall in love with France all over again.

Have you been to Montpellier? Any tips to share?

 

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29 thoughts on “A Day in Montpellier

  1. “Carcassonne, one sees little old retirees wearing pajamas and slippers as they walk their dogs, not very early, either.”

    Oh, so you’re saying I’d fit right in? 😉 Actually, here it’s getting the chickens and geese out of bed and veggie gardening.

    I would have loved to listen to the jazz trio and to know why all the lady statues are so cross looking.

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  2. Loved traveling along with you! That trompe d’oeil! Haven’t even been to Montpellier, Vermont, so I appreciate you as my guide. Sending peace to you right where you are.

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    1. I have to go back when I’m not shopping, to savor the museums.
      BTW, I recently heard Montpelier, Vt., in a podcast and was surprised at the pronunciation. (mont PILL yer in English vs. moh pel YAY in French)

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  3. The architecture is over-the-top stunning. I am always deeply impressed at what artisans were able to produce hundreds of years ago with none of the fine tools we have today. Lord only knows how many years went into a building back then.

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    1. Many of the buildings date to the Middle Ages, with modifications in the 17th and 18th centuries, and then in the 19th century Montpellier adopted the Haussmannian style that dominates Paris.

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  4. STOP SMOKING?YELLOW JACKETS!!!!!
    I thought the riots were over GASOLINE?
    YOU are like me WE LOVE THE OLD CITIES!HARD TO WALK as I am always LOOKING UP AND ACROSS AND DOWN!
    A BEAUTIFUL DAY YOU HAD!
    XX

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Unrelated! We were in Montpellier the weekend before the yellow jacket protest started over pollution tax on diesel. I suppose the anti-smoking volunteers wore them just for visibility on the big Place de la Comédie.

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  5. I love Montpellier, though it’s been a while since I last went!! Chapelle Sainte-Foy hosts the most wonderful creche during December! I wrote about it a couple of years ago, I think. On Rue de l’Aiguillerie there is the most wonderful toy shop “Pomme de Reinette” and “Pomme d’Api” – not to be missed!!

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  6. A new place to visit….we have driven around but never stopped. I think next year it should be a stopover. Now I will ask Mme Google for some more information.
    Thank you as always
    Ali x

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The history and the architecture… That’s what we love about Europe. America is a young country so we don’t have this kind of provenance to our buildings. Here in San Antonio we have several Spanish missions dating back to 1720 and they’re so well preserved. Unfortunately when Mexico restores their beautiful old churches, they paint over the rock and the limestone with bright colors, so they look more like a carnival ride… Makes me sad.

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  8. Yes I have been in Montpellier about 5 or 10 years ago (sorry, times passes by so quickly, I lose track). I wished I had seen this blog post before I went there. Lovely city as far as I have seen it.
    Greetje

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  9. I lived in Montpellier briefly about 15 years ago, and since then I’ve returned several times for one- to two-week visits. Last time was in 2016, and I’ll probably be there again next year. Great post!

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      1. My apartment was in the historic city center, so I spent most of my time there and still do. However, I do also like to walk down to the Lez and stroll along the river. Depending on the time of year, I’ll also head to the beach, either Palavas-les-Flots or Carnon, but then that’s not technically Montpellier.

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        1. I haven’t explored much beyond the Ecusson, which already is so full of sights. I’d like to get to know the entire place better. I know Paris so well, and even though Montpellier is nearby, I just don’t go often.

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