Montpellier
On the move  
10 highlights

Montpellier
On the move  
10 highlights

Multitalented Montpellier refuses to sit on its millennia-old laurels. This vibrant city is endlessly energized by new ideas and fresh talent.

1.

Triad of the arts

The arrival in February 2016 of Nicolas Bourriaud, co-founder of the Palais de Tokyo and former director of the Paris École des Beaux-Arts, sent a strong message to the world about Montpellier. Appointed director of the MoCo, a new tripartite structure regrouping the town’s École des Beaux-Arts with two contemporary art centersLa Panacée, which already exists, and the Hôtel Montcalm, slated to open in 2019his mission is to make Montpellier a showcase for the arts. This type of contemporary art complex, involving training, exhibitions, mediation, production and the organization of artists’ residencies all at once, is unprecedented in France. In contrast to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, which was designed to be a spectacular tourist attraction, Montpellier has instead opted for structures located in three different areas of the city, which can adapt to the urban fabric’s fluid form and remain accessible to the people of Montpellier.

École des Beaux-Arts

130, rue Yehudi-Menuhin. Tél. +33 (0)4 99 58 32 85.

www.esbama.fr

La Panacée

14, rue de l’École-de-Pharmacie. Tél. +33 (0)4 34 88 79 79.

www.lapanacee.org

Hôtel de Montcalm

3, rue de l’Ancien-Courrier. En travaux.

2.

Rambling away

People walk, amble about and meander a great deal in Montpellier. L’Écusson, the city’s historic center, is Europe’s second-largest pedestrian zone, after Venice. The town has built parking lots on the edge of the city, breathing new life into the pleasures of strolling about town. For a token fee, motorists can park their cars, then take a tram to the center. The city now beats to the rhythm of the colors and clanging of the trams, decorated in yellow and azure by Christian Lacroix. Both the air and your mood suddenly feel lighter.

3.

Seating plan

The Pourcel brothers’ restaurant, with its 11-meter-high ceiling and 1,000 m2 surface area, looks like an industrial space of some sort. But rest assured: the rabbit ravioli with foie gras and the caramelized octopus concocted by the kings of “bistronomie” are entirely handcrafted.

Terminal #1

1408, avenue de la Mer. Tél. +33 (0)4 99 58 38 38.

www.terminalpourcel.com

4.

Aerial escapades

Contemporary dance has its stronghold in Montpellier: the Agora, a former prison converted into an international center for dance. Every June for the past 37 years the Montpellier Danse festival has brought together the world’s leading choreographers. This year Angelin Preljocaj, Mathilde Monnier, David Wampach and Emanuel Gat are taking part. The dance festival follows on the heels of the freestyle riders who have been defying gravity along the banks of the Lez for the past 20 years. The FISE World MontpellierInternational Extreme Sports Festivalis Europe’s largest. Some 600,000 fans gather to watch rollerblading, skating, BMX, mountain biking and even scooters. Montpellier is on the move.

Montpellier Danse

Du 23.06 au 7.07.

www.montpellierdanse.com

Festival international des sports extrêmes

Rendez-vous en 2018.

www.fise.fr

5.

Lofty squares

Cities in the south acquire their charm from the beauty of their squares. Strolling through Montpellier means walking up and down narrow streets lined with tall buildings, hoping for a breach just as a river yearns for the mouth. The squares are like stone clearings, vast or tiny, pining to be like the forums of yesteryear. For squares are synonymous with cafés, terraces, orgeat syrup and “pac à l’eau” (local lemonade), even when they are nothing more than two tables on a ribbon-sized sidewalk. The most popular is Place Jean-Jaurès, a kind of evening antechamber, the kingdom of the aperitif. The craziest is the pint-sized Place Saint-Ravy, with its fountain and basin that’s miraculously devoid of coins. The noblest is the Canourgue, its square shaded by nettle trees that aerate an array of 17th-century private mansions. Cézanne could have painted the austere facade and ironwork of the Hôtel de Belleval, which is set to be converted into a hotel-restaurant by the Pourcel brothers.

6.

Exquisitely urban

Built in stone from neighboring Castries, the medieval city is illuminated depending on the hour and the day. Montpellier has looked like a tall blonde beauty for years, ranging from off white to gray ocher. Today it’s harder to say, as recent architectural projects have introduced a variety of colors: the Musée Fabre, with its milky facade by day, luminescent at night, designed by Bordeaux architects Brochet-Lajus-Pueyo and Emmanuel Nebout’s firm in Montpellier (above); Philippe Starck’s bubble-like Nuage; the curved white Lycée Georges-Frêche by Massimiliano Fuksas; Jean Nouvel and François Fontès’ monolithic, deep blue city hall; and Zaha Hadid’s concrete mediatheque. The buildings no longer frolic with the sun; monumental, somewhat haughty, they now prefer to commune with Olympus instead.

Musée Fabre

39, bd Bonne-Nouvelle.

www.museefabre.montpellier3m.fr

Lycée Georges-Frêche

401, rue Le Titien.

Hôtel de ville

1, place Georges-Frêche..

médiathèque PierresVives

907, avenue du Professeur-Blayac.

7.

Blue pistes

The waves off Cythera gave birth to Aphrodite and those off Villeneuve-lès-Maguelone to kitesurfing. All the windsthe mistral, tramontane, sea breezes and thermal windsbuffet this 12-kilometer-long beach located just 15 minutes from the city center, where the water and the sky are dotted with boards, hydrofoils and other flying contraptions. In June, during Festikite (International Kite Festival), you’d almost think that Montpellier, a major sponsor of the event, was actually on the sea.

Festikite

Du 2 au 5.06.

www.festikite.net

8.

Street shots

Gilles Mora is not a native of Montpellier, but he has turned the place into one of the most dynamic hubs for photography in France, with his programming at the Pavillon Populaire [People’s Pavilion], aptly named given that entry here is free, as it is in most of this city’s museums. On display throughout the summer, the velvety images of William Gedney, an unsung American photographer active in the 1970s, reveal a little-known side of street photography.

Pavillon Populaire

Esplanade Charles-de-Gaulle. Tél. +33 (0)4 67 66 13 46.

9.

Creative avenues

When graffiti artists are talented, they become “urban artists” and their works end up in museums. This is what happened to Al Sticking (photo), whose giant street frescoes are well-known to all Montpellierians. Next October, he’ll be decorating the former church of the Carré Sainte-Anne. A gifted ArtFx student may earn a VES (Visual Effects Society) Award, the Oscars of special effects; many former students of this schoolthe only one in France to teach 3D and digital special effectshave received the award. The latest ArtFx highlight? The Jungle Book, one of last year’s blockbusters. Nineteen former students were recruited to work on this electrifying adaptation of the Disney masterpiece. For the record: 50 percent of Montpellier’s inhabitants are under 34, with cultural predilections gravitating more toward street art and deep house rather than Baroque painting.

Carré Sainte-Anne

10.

Doctor’s orders

Montpellier has a benevolent, salutary soul. Founded in the 12th century adjacent to Saint-Pierre Cathedral, its Faculty of Medicine is the oldest in the world that is still active. Right nearby, faith and medicine go hand in hand at the Chapelle de la Miséricorde and its apothecary, where the still, mortar, pestle and an array of old-fashioned apothecary jars once containing camphor powder, chicory water and the indispensable poppy syrup are still on display in the two wood-paneled rooms.

Musée et conservatoire d’anatomie

2, rue de l’École-de-Médecine.

Chapelle de la Miséricorde

2, rue de la Monnaie.

Hôtel Oceania Le Métropole

Renovated last year, the Oceania Le Métropole is the city’s oldest hotel, housed in a magnificent 19th-century building with a large glazed veranda. It’s perfectly located halfway between the train station and the downtown Place de la Comédie. Offering large, elegant rooms with impeccable soundproofing, a lovely patio, a heated outdoor pool complete with a Jacuzzi, a great fitness room and a mixologist at the bar, the Oceania checks off all the requisite boxes. Not to mention the impressive bathroom taps, controlled by switches, and the rain showersa real boon after a day spent under the hot sun of the city.

Hôtel Oceania Le Métropole

3, rue Clos-René. Tél. +33 (0)4 67 12 32 32.

www.oceaniahotels.com

Carnet d’adresses

École des Beaux-Arts

130, rue Yehudi-Menuhin. Tél. +33 (0)4 99 58 32 85.

www.esbama.fr

La Panacée

14, rue de l’École-de-Pharmacie. Tél. +33 (0)4 34 88 79 79.

www.lapanacee.org

Hôtel de Montcalm

3, rue de l’Ancien-Courrier. En travaux.

Terminal #1

1408, avenue de la Mer. Tél. +33 (0)4 99 58 38 38.

www.terminalpourcel.com

Montpellier Danse

Du 23.06 au 7.07.

www.montpellierdanse.com

Festival international des sports extrêmes

Rendez-vous en 2018.

www.fise.fr

Musée Fabre

39, bd Bonne-Nouvelle.

www.museefabre.montpellier3m.fr

Lycée Georges-Frêche

401, rue Le Titien.

Hôtel de ville

1, place Georges-Frêche..

médiathèque PierresVives

907, avenue du Professeur-Blayac.

École des Beaux-Arts

130, rue Yehudi-Menuhin. Tél. +33 (0)4 99 58 32 85.

www.esbama.fr

Pavillon Populaire

Esplanade Charles-de-Gaulle. Tél. +33 (0)4 67 66 13 46.

Carré Sainte-Anne

ArtFX

Musée et conservatoire d’anatomie

2, rue de l’École-de-Médecine.

Chapelle de la Miséricorde

2, rue de la Monnaie.

Hôtel Oceania Le Métropole

3, rue Clos-René. Tél. +33 (0)4 67 12 32 32.

www.oceaniahotels.com

Restaurants & bars

Le Parfum

Near the École des Beaux-Arts, this is where to test out explosive cocktails in the glow of the red Chinese lanterns. 55 bis, rue de la Cavalerie. Tél. +33 (0)4 67 84 86 15.

www.barleparfum.com

Les Bains de Montpellier

Here’s a particularly pleasant place, with a large shaded patio. It’s worth a visit to sample the simple but authentic Mediterranean cuisine. For a more creative culinary experience, head next door, where the Suite des Bains serves up inventive tapas to the sounds of a great DJ program. But here, unfortunately, there’s no patio.6, rue Richelieu. Tél. +33 (0)4 67 60 70 87.

www.praiadaluz.pt

La Suite des Bains

6 bis, rue Richelieu. Tél. +33 (0)4 67 66 08 94.

www.lasuitedesbains.com

Mas de Lafeuillade

Check out this new gourmet spot, located in a traditional 19th-century home. There’s no menu, as the dishes change daily, depending on the market. 281 bis, rue Fra-Angelico. Tél. +33 (0)6 77 18 29 69.

www.mas-de-lafeuillade.com

Shopping

RBC Design Center

Designed by Jean Nouvel, this concept store sells solely designer objects and furniture, displayed on eight platforms surrounding a central light well. 609, av. Raymond Dugrand. Tél. +33 (0)4 67 02 40 24.

www.rbcmobilier.com

Brocante

Every Sunday morning, antiques dealers meet up at the Parc du Peyrou. A chance to snag a bargain, sample oysters and enjoy the gorgeous view over the red-tiled rooftops of Montpellier.

Overview
Overview
Address Book

Going There

www.airfrance.com

FRÉQUENCE DES VOLS

Air France AIR FRANCE has 29 flights a week to Montpellier from Paris-CDG, and up to 62 flights a week from Paris-Orly, with HOP!

KLM has 2 daily flights to Montpellier from Amsterdam.

AÉROPORT D'ARRIVÉE

Aéroport de Montpellier-Méditerranée.
À 7 km.
Tél. +33 (0)4 67 20 85 00.

BUREAUX AIR FRANCE KLM

À l’aéroport.

RÉSERVATIONS

— Depuis la France : tél. 3654.
— Depuis l’étranger :
tél. +33 (0)892 70 26 54.

Location de voiture

Hertz, à l'aéroport

Tél. +1 650 624 6600.

www.airfrance.com/cars

À LIRE

Montpellier
Gallimard, coll. GEOguide.

Languedoc
Gallimard, coll. GEOguide.

Le Goût de Montpellier
Mercure de France, coll. Le goût de.

© Parko Polo / Central Illustration Agency. Carte illustrative, non contractuelle.