Montpellier is one of southern France's most seductive cities. Here, even the trams have sex appeal - designed by Christian Lacroix. The architecture is graceful, along elegant boulevards. And the atmosphere is of culture, tolerance and appreciation of the aesthetic. As well as the beautiful sights some of Montpellier's charms as a destination come from its grand Hôtels Particuliers. These are like grand private homes and have been converted into some of the best places to stay in Montpellier.
Even if you're not staying in one, the Hôtels Particuliers are still a very fine sight to stroll by. Built during the 17th and 18th Centuries by Montpellier's wealthiest merchants. Some of them have been converted for municipal use, or have become museums, and any that you have a chance to peep inside you should - even if they seem sober on the outside the courtyards are often amazing!
It could be the Mediterranean influence? Or the fact that it was founded by the counts of Toulouse not the Romans? Or the city's lack of industry, which means it's had to rely on ideas to prosper? Whatever it is, Montpellier is a special place because of it.
Much of Montpellier's appeals can be experienced without an entrance fee - you just amble over to the main square, the Comedie and grab a table. The square is lined by St. Peter's Cathedral and Europe's oldest medical school. When you're finished admiring one of France's most beautiful central squares move on to the Esplanade, Place Jean Jaures, or Place Canourgue and repeat.
You may expect a city with this much interest in beauty would have an excellent art museum. And it does - the Musee Fabre, which houses France's richest collection of European art. Some of the highlights include three paintings by Rubens, a striking collection by Jacques-Louis David and good pieces by Manet, Degas, Delacroix and Courbet.
As well as beautiful buildings, Montpellier does its green spaces with panache as well. And it is home to France's older botanical gardens, just by the St-Pierre Cathedral. Montpellier is also temptingly close to the sea - only 50minutes to the resort town of Palavas on a bike. Which you can hire from the tourist office.
Our selection of the best places to stay in Montpellier range from a chic B&B in the centre of town to a five star domaine just outside.
Still not sure which to book? Browse through our list of all the best places to stay in Montpellier, or feel free to call or email one of our gurus for advice. If you want to widen the net, check out all our Languedoc Roussillon recommendations.
Beautiful chateau B&B with enormous suites. High ceilings, fireplaces, stone floors and restored 18th century furniture. Heritage combined with high design. A palatial spot.
Two Michelin star restaurant with large contemporary rooms, a swimming pool, and pieces of modern art and sculpture scattered everywhere. A gourmet retreat within striking distance of Montpellier's central attractions.
Montpellier (Castelnau le Lez)
Stunning five-star luxury spa hotel set in hectares of vineyards. A sandstone country house with manicured lawns, sumptuous bedrooms, excellent gourmet restaurant and all the mod-cons befitting its five stars.