Montpellier enjoys spectacular surroundings with picturesque little villages, nice mountains for hiking, beautiful rivers, intricate caves, sunny beaches and it’s wonderful garrigue vegetation. Discover the region of l’Occitanie, and its activities & events not to be missed!
Montpellier surroundings – 45min or less away by car
- Maguelone is one of its kind with its beautiful abbey & vineyards and shingle beach surrounded by marshs.
- L’Espiguette, probably my favorite with its enormous beach that you have to cross before finding the sea. Also one of the less touristy beach.
- La Grande Motte presents during summer Les Nuits d’Or which is a show of fireworks above the sea accompanied by music. It’s on once a week, every week from July to August (completely free ). You can watch the show from the beach
- Classic & easy access: Grand Travers, Petit Travers (close, nice & easy to park), Perols ( Tramway ligne 3) , Carnon, Palavas
- Pic Saint Loup + hortus: You’ll find a few trails including one that goes up the Pic Saint Loup with an amazing view , one along the spectacular and a bit dangerous mountain ridge or one that goes around the Pic Saint Loup. Other Trails goes to l’Hortus and its castle in ruins. During summer it gets extremely hot, so be adequately prepared. All hikes possess incredible views. The Pic Saint Loup is also well renowned for its fabulous wine.
- le Ravins des Arcs: one my favorite hikes, you never get tired of the gorgeous pools, the cold river passing under a natural arch, and the scrubby garigue, a cave which you can climb to and the incredible views of the deep gorges du lamalou. During summer the river runs dry and the natural pools are completely dry.
- le Moulin de la Fous de Lauret. One of my favorite hidden spots, few people know this beautiful place. The hike leads to a hidden mill in ruins with its feets in the bed of the river. The river is an assortment of small shallow pools which take turquoise and light green colours in winter and early spring. Again during the summer it is completely dry.
- Etang de lores is great for discovering nearby marsh with its flamingos and other birds. It is absolutely beautiful at sunset.
- You can buy an IGN maps if you really want to explore and discover the region and its beauty.
Activities & Must See Attractions:
- Chateaux de Restinclières & Source du Lez. A small beautiful castle where you can visit expositions. With its French style garden and lovely grounds great for a picnic. You’ll find an endemic fish species there called le Chabot where the Lez is born.
- Le Lac du Crès is a small but nice lake great for picnics and swimming in the summer. You can get there with the tramway 2. It is surrounded, by garrigue, vinyards and forest. Joggers love to come here early in the morning or for sunset.
- Saint-Guilhem le desert + le Pont du Diable + Grotte de Clamouse + Saint Jean de Fos
– Saint Guilhem le Désert is probably my favorite medieval village of all. It is as French and as pittoresque as it gets. Visit this stone house village at the edge of river with its stunning monastery which can be visited for free and its cute artisanal boutiques. If you take the path that climbs up the mountain, you’ll get in half an hour to a castle in ruins which dominates the village, if you continue the trail you’ll get to a lovely hermitage. There are a few nice hikes around.
– Le Pont du Diable or the devil bridge, is classified as Unesco world heritages. It possesses an amazing view of the river which takes a turquoise shade in winter. People enjoy jumping from its steep rocky gorges. Otherwise you can lay back on its beach with a spectacular view of the bridge and the river.
– Grotte de Clamouse also one of the most famous cave nea by with its stalactite and stalagmite.
– Saint Jean de Fos is a cute little village specialized in potteries.
– The best way to visit all this is to park at the pont du diable parking and take the free Navette (bus) to the village of saint Guilhem le Desert as well as la Grotte de Clamouse. There is also a bus that goes there from Montpellier.
- Gorge de l’hérault + Grotte des Demoiselles.
– You’ll enjoy best The Gorges de l’Hérault by canoe. Go to Saint Bauzille de Putois to rent a canoe, and spend the whole day enjoying the sun floating down the river.
– La Grotte des demoiselles is a huge and spectacular cave with stalactite and stalagmite and enormous chamber. It is part of the local history as Protestant use to hide there during religious wars.
- Aigue morte + Salins du Midi
– Aigue Morte is a medieval fortress containing a small city inside its ramparts. Discover it’s lovely paved streets, beautiful center plaza with its gothic church Notre Dame des Sablons well known for its stained glass made by the French artist Claude Vallet. You can walk along the ramparts for the best view of le Salines.
– Salins du midi, or pink salt lakes are situated right behind the medieval fortress.
– Try out the local food specialty or Camarguaise Dishes sur as la Gardianne de Taureau
- La Couvertoirade is also a splendid medieval village situated on the plateau du Larzac in Aveyron. This stone house village is protected by great ramparts. Look out for its imposing mill. You can also find a few nice walk nearby.
- Nimes is an ancient roman city
– Les Arènes, reknown in the region as it is one of French most colossal roman amphitheater which holds events such as bull games and concerts.
– Les Jardins de la Fontaines a beautiful & intricate garden with fountains & terrasses and a tower on the top of the hill. Probably one of my favorite spots in Nimes
– The city center with its emblematic crocodile fountain and cute restaurants.
– Maison Carée is a roman building located at the center of a beautiful plaza.
– Museums such as Carré d’Art, Musee du vieux Nimes, Musée Archeologique , Musée des Beaux-Arts.
– In June & September the Feria with its bull games and concerts take place (encierro, corridas, etc)
- Les Matelles a little picturesque village close to Montpellier.
- Discover the game of Joutes in Béziers, Agde, Marseillan, Mèze, Balaruc, Frontignan, Sète, Palavas, it’s an ancient boating game played only in France, Germany and Switzerland.
Special Southern Events:
- Summer Féria ( all summer but the best ones are in august & september) which includes bull games (encierro, abrivados, bandidos, raseteurs taureau piscine – which you can participate, and more) & concerts . The most impressive one is Nime’s but every village around Montpellier holds their own traditional Féria such as le Cres, Castrie, Lattes, etc.
- Transhumances between April and June (Cévennes & Meze) where hords of sheeps cross from winter passture to summer ones passing through villages and usually colorfully decorated.
- Natural Games is a festival in Millau which is also a free extreme sport festival with BMX, slackline, climbing, canoeing, etc.
Attractions 2h or less away by car
- Rocquefort: discover how the famous cheese is made in this village. Free tours are available.
- Le Pont du Gard one of France’s most spectacular and grand roman vestige. This aqueduct is picture perfect. You can also visit its museum and walk down the short trail for a great view. By night the aqueduct is well light up. In June there is Les Fééries du Pont which is a stunning light and sound, pyrotechnic, video-morphing festival.
- Calanque de Casis, you’ll find beautiful turquoise bays close to Marseille.
- Genets blooming in Cevennes. The mountains turn yellow from this scrubby bush, it’s truly a beautiful site to see.
- Mont Aigoual is nice for hiking in summer, sledging in winter when its covered in snow, and in fall for hunting mushrooms. In June you have la Transhumance at l’Esperou.
- Les Carrières de Lumières situated at Les Baux de Provence is an absolute art enchantment. The show consist of painting being projected in this stone quarry.
Did you know that in the south of France people use to speak occitan? Some words have been integrated to the language but you won’t hear it in the north surch as « péguer » ( to sticks) , « « etre ensuqué » (be sleepy), « rouste » (a beating) , « cagnas » (extremely sunny),etc.