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Rediscovering Montpellier

Volume XX, Issue 8

A sunset, cloudy sky over Place de la Comedie in Montpellier, France

This afternoon I’ll be “on set” taping my 49th House Hunters International, this time in the southern city of Montpellier in the Occitanie region.

Montpellier is booming. It’s one of the highest population growth areas of France (about 300,000 inside the city and more than 600,00 in the urban area) with students comprising almost a quarter of its population, making it young and vibrant. The last time I was there, which was many years ago, I wasn’t impressed, but that was then and this is now.

A birdseye view of Montpellier

Now, it has one of the largest pedestrian areas of any city in France, was nicknamed “Gifted” and nominated for “Best Emerging Culture City of the Year 2017” by the think tank LCD. It’s only 10 kilometers from the Mediterranean Sea, which adds to its caché and is a mere 3.5 hours by TGV from Paris. It’s been around since the Middle Ages when it was a very important city of the Crown of Aragon, then sold to France in 1349. The university was founded as long ago as 1220, as one of the oldest in the world. Its medical school is the oldest still in operation, claiming such illustrious students as Petrarch, Nostradamus and François Rabelais.

A different birdseye view of Montpellier

The weather in Montpellier is moderate thanks to its proximity to the sea, much like Nice. The summer will see temperatures in the mid 80s Fahrenheit, with the winter seeing lows just above freezing. The rainiest months are January and November, but the summers are dry with loads of sunshine.

There’s no shortage of cultural things to do in Montpellier. The culinary arts are always present, including a fair selection of Michelin-starred restaurants and lots of markets if you prefer being the at-home chef. There are two large concert venues: L’Arena (with 14,000 seats) and Le Zenith Sud (with 7,000 seats) and an annual opera festival every summer. “Cinemed,” a cinema festival is the second-largest in France after Cannes. The Jardin des Plantes is one of the oldest botanical gardens in Europe. You will also find a 12th-century ritual Jewish bathhouse, 17th-century mansions and the citadel of Montpellier, among others sights.

A street in Montpellier's historic center

A street in Montpellier’s historic center

Almost everything is within walking distance, and it has a good public transportation system making it great for those who wish to leave their cars behind. For those who wish to travel a lot, Montpellier has its own airport, but it’s not an international airport like in Marseille or Nice. It’s not as international as those cities, either, so plan on learning French. However, the cost of living is a lower, too.

The colorful tramway cars in Montpellier

A map of the tramway system in Montpellier

We’re getting more and more requests by clients for Montpellier, so the five days I well spend here taping will be more than just fun—it will be a rediscovery about which I can report next week in our Nouvellettres®. As I write this, I know little about the “contributors” (the clients on the show), nor the properties we will be visiting, as all that is set up by the producers so there are no secrets to be divulged…not just yet.

About the neighborhoods…

Map of the neighborhood in Montpellier

If you want village life, “Les Beaux-Arts” district just steps from the historic center is “bobo” both bohemian and bourgeois, with students and artists filling the café tables. Here is where you can count on markets, carnivals, festivals all throughout the year to keep you entertained, while bursting with charm.

The district known as “Gambetta” (the Cours Gambetta runs right through it) is also close to the city center, and is young and hip, not expensive and definitely on the up and coming list. There’s a heavy North African presence here which adds spice to its lifestyle and no shortage of markets.

Chic apartment buildings in Montpellier

Students can also be found in “Boutonnet” north of downtown and adjacent to Les Beaux-Arts, a relatively new area of town. The heart is on rue du Faubourg Boutonnet lined with shops, cafés and bars, as well as various university campuses. Property here is even more affordable.

“Arceaux” is one of the oldest hoods in the city and loved by young families—with the feel of a village as its main market sits under the arches of an aqueduct—is known to be calm and quiet and a great place for young professionals to set up house. The Saint-Clément aqueduct is here, inspired by the architecture of the Pont du Gard. Along the aqueduct is a regional market on Tuesdays and Saturdays making this neighborhood ideal for both residents and visitors.

The old aquaduct in Montpellier

If you want something new, really new, then try “Port Marianne.” This area wasn’t even alive 25 years ago. But it is fast growing, located on the River Lez in the east side of town. The apartments are modern, and some overlook the Jacques Coeur basin with views of the sea. A tramway connects it to the main train station in a matter of minutes.

The Bassin Jacques Coeur area in Montpellier

One of the best known neighborhoods is the “Quartier Saint-Roch” as it’s the heart of the historic center, teeming with bars and restaurants. It’s a shopper’s paradise and awash with tourists visiting the Eglise Saint-Roch. Saint-Roch Square and Saint-Côme Square are the unofficial meeting points in Montpellier.

Map of Montpellier's historic center

Map of Montpellier’s historic center

The “Sainte-Anne” district is also at the heart of Montpellier with a main square (Place Sainte-Anne) filled with cafés and restaurants. It is here you will find a lot of art galleries and exhibition centers as well as the National Conservatory of Music and a variety of workshops making stringed instruments.

“Antigone” is just a hop, skip and a jump from the center of the city with its distinctive neo-classical architecture and a cornucopia of parks, fountains and greenery. It’s here you find the Olympic Pool and because of the municipal library, it’s appealing to students after their classes.

A look at the Antigone neighborhood in Montpellier

According to MeilleursAgents.com real estate averages about 3,259€ per square meter for an apartment and 4,011€ per square meter for a house. The Chambre de Notaires reports an average of both apartments and houses of 2,500€ per square meter up to 3,810€ per square meter. These prices are about half of what you’ll find in Nice and one-quarter of prices in Paris!

Chart showing the evolution of property prices in Montpellier

A map graphic of the Chambre de Notaire's statistics for Montpellier

Stay tuned for more information and lots of photos of Montpellier in next week’s Nouvellettres®!

Special note: photo credits…Wikipedia.org, Montpellier-Tourisme.fr, marine.les-academiciens.fr, Instagram MontpellierNow

A bientôt,

Adrian Leeds with "godchild" SimoneAdrian Leeds
The Adrian Leeds Group

Adrian with “godchild” Simone

Promo meme for Adrian Leeds on Paris Underground's Paris State of Mind on fractional propertiesP.S. Tune in to Paris Underground Radio Monday, February 28th and the following Monday, March 7th for an interview with Adrian Leeds by Gail Bosclair and Marie Pistinier about Fractional Ownership in France!”

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1 Comment

  1. Ken Edstrom on February 24, 2022 at 11:36 am

    Adrian, thanks so much for this, I know literally nothing about Montpellier and I will be passing through there this summer on a Grand Tour of the interior, starting in Lyon. I’m going to try to hit a couple of the hot spots you identify in your blog. Thanks again for the info!

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