Welcome to first’s article sequel “Around the South of France: First Stop Montpellier“, looking forward to discover new things! Now that you gained the knowledge you need to travel to medieval Montpellier, it’s time to plan your next trips in and out of town, by using any means of transportation.
As you may know in France and in most European countries, the tram is a daily means of transportation, both for going inside and outside the city. It is economical and convenient, offering you direct access to most parts of the map. Before you use it, whether you intend to stay for a few days or for months, it is important to be informed about the tickets, as well as the offers that are given to you. For instance, if you are a student and your stay in Montpellier is going to last for several months, then you can get a monthly means of transportation card, paying a satisfactory amount, which ensures you unlimited travel, not only by tram, but also by blue buses.
Tram line 1: Leaving the city center
Now that you explored Montpellier’s historic center, you still feel like you’ve never seen anything at all. And that’s for sure. Because each place hides paths that lead you to unique experiences and create memories that you will keep with you forever.
So, you decide to use the most convenient means of transportation that this city provides you and without spending a single euro to admire as many things as you can. If we assume that the starting point of the first line of the tram is the center, Comédie square, then you will be in three different places in a few minutes. While you’re observing the city from the window, without realizing it you have already reached the first remarkable stop, the district of Antigone, where you can go down and wander in Place de Thessalie. This square is surrounded by neoclassical buildings from Greco-Roman Antiquity, while its center is adorned by a fountain with busts of demigods emerging from the water. It’s a quiet place to sit on a bench and have a coffee or read your book, otherwise, if you’re just passing by you can take a ride with your bike. Moreover, autumn is the perfect time to admire the colorful leaves of the trees that adorn everything around you.
Once you’ve finished your tour of the Antigone neighborhood, you can either take the tram again or walk to the next stop, Rive du Lez. First, you cross the Esplanade de l’Europe, which is located at the end of Antigone and is famous for its semicircular architecture overlooking the river Lez. In the center, there’s a copy of the Greco-Roman sculpture “The Victory of Samothrace”. This square is also the perfect place for music festivals, photography enthusiasts and young skateboarders.
The last stop that’s worth exploring after Rive du Lez is the Port Marianne district, where you can walk through the Jaques Cœur and Georges Charpak parks. They are both small-scale, but the natural environment is unique, as in the first there’s a lake with swans and ducks, while in the second there’re tall trees and human intervention is almost minimal.
Tram line 3: Spending your Sunday at Maison de la Nature and at the beaches
There is no better way to spend your Sunday than the Maison de la Nature, the house of nature, a protected location that extends along the Méjean Lagoon. By taking the third line of the tram in the direction of the Lattes area you can drive there easily and quickly, in less than an hour. The house of nature is open all day until the afternoon on Sundays and you have the opportunity to admire a shelter of a variety of flora and fauna. Get ready for a long walk, as the whole site consists of a wooden path, where you can admire the pink flamingos and other rare species of birds, including the white stork of Alsace, from a distance.
If you’re a sea lover and the weather allows it, don’t forget to take the tram heading to the most beautiful beaches of Montpellier, Palavas-les-flots and Carnon-plage. You can reach the first beach using line 3 of the tram, while in the second you can either take a bus from Palavas-les-flots, or even walk there. They are the perfect destinations for a day full of sun, sea and tranquility, where you can enjoy a picnic with baguettes, fruit and French wine.
Hiking on the mountain Pic Saint Loup
In case you are thinking of having an alternative vacation and trying something different, a good idea is to organize a hike with your friends, even with the French people you may have met one day on the street. Many of them will suggest you for sure to take a bus and head to the Pic Saint Loup mountain. It is located just 25 minutes north of Montpellier. It has one of the best hiking trails with some degree of difficulty and is the perfect place to enjoy the fresh air. Once your hike is over, don’t forget to try the local wine.
A tour in the castle of Aigues-Mortes
Aigues-Mortes is perhaps one of the most beautiful and nearby cities outside Montpellier, but also unknown to most of us. If you search very well you will notice that this castle city is one of the most magical and hard-to-find places in the South of France. Getting a Hérault bus from the final stop of tram line 1, you will reach soon this town. The city center is surrounded by walls of a medieval castle, while unique exhibits are hidden inside the towers. Don’t miss the opportunity to walk above the walls and admire the magnificent view of the city, which is reminiscent of Kings Landing from Game of Thrones.
Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert: A medieval village alongside the Gorges de l’Hérault river
Maybe it’s the most beautiful, most admirable part of the Hérault prefecture in the region of Occitanie in France. Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert is a medieval village alongside the Gorges de l’Hérault river and a unique cultural heritage with local traditions. As soon as you get there, the romance of the medieval houses seduces you, with the running water flowing in several stone corners, while the landscape seems like a fairy tale. Try not to visit it in winter, because bus schedules are quite limited and the area is deserted.
Just before you arrive, you can get off a few stops earlier and admire the Pont du Diable, the ancient bridge of the devil, which is also crossed by the Gorges de l’Hérault river. This bridge hides a unique story and you might get goosebumps as soon as you cross it.
As you might realize, the tram and the bus are two means of transportation by which you can discover every corner, every diamond of the south, without trouble, only with the desire and the curiosity about each place’s secrets. Without losing your adventurous spirit, don’t forget to add to your list the train, the means of transport that will travel you with the romance that exudes to your next destinations.