Montpellier is an elegant, fast-growing Mediterranean city with grand boulevards and squares. A third of residents study at one of its three universities and other higher education institutions.
The city was founded in the 10th century by the Counts of Toulouse. Two towers built around 1200 remain of the medieval walls. Montpellier became a wealthy and multi-cultural trading centre in which Jews, Muslims and other minorities thrived.
During the 19th century the city became very wealthy because it supplied the rest of France with huge quantities of wine. A fungal disease in the 1890s hit the wine production hard.
A visit is highly recommended, not just for the many shops, bars, restaurants and cultural events. Highlights include Place de la Comédie by the opera house, the town houses and boulevards, the paintings of the Musée Fabre, the 14th century Gothic cathedral, the botanical gardens and the zoo with its indoor rain forest.
It takes around 90 minutes to drive to Montpellier from Le Fort Pouzols-Minervois (66 miles, 107 km). Although it is a coastal town, many of the beaches get overcrowded and modern seaside developments are often horrible.
Montpellier is a great town to explore on foot. It is also where you get to see world-class artists live on stage. The current mayor is keen on futuristic architectural and other projects. For more information and events, visit www.montpellier-france.com.
Montpellier is quite a long drive from Le Fort Pouzols-Minervois. But you could decide to combine your visit with a nice meal in Sète, Mèze on the Étang de Thau. Even just taking a little detour off the motorway to drive along the lagoon is a great way to slowly make your way back to Pouzols-Minervois.