Main Births etc
L'aqueduc Saint-Clément, la Place de l'Europe, la Place de la Comédie, l'hôtel de région, la promenade du Peyrou, le Corum, l'arc de Triomphe, la cathédrale Saint Pierre.

Coat of arms

Montpellier is located in France
Coordinates: 43°36′43″N 3°52′38″E / 43.6119, 3.8772Coordinates: 43°36′43″N 3°52′38″E / 43.6119, 3.8772
Country France
Region Occitanie
Department Hérault
Arrondissement Montpellier
Intercommunality Montpellier
 • Mayor (2008–2014) Hélène Mandroux-Colas (PS)
Area1 56.88 km2 (21.96 sq mi)
Population (2009)2 255,080
 • Rank 8th in France
 • Density 4,500/km2 (12,000/sq mi)
INSEE/Postal code 34172 / 34000, 34070, 34080, 34090
Elevation 7–118 m (23–387 ft)
(avg. 27 m or 89 ft)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries. 2 Population without double counting: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Montpellier (French pronunciation: [mɔ̃.pə.lje]; Occitan: Montpelhièr [mum.peˈʎɛ]) is a city in southern France. It is the capital of the Languedoc-Roussillon region, as well as the Hérault department. Montpellier is the 8th largest city of France, and is also the fastest growing city in the country over the past 25 years.[1] Located on the south coast of France on the Mediterranean Sea, it is the third-largest French city on the Mediterranean coast after Marseille and Nice.


Montpellier is one of the few large cities in France without any (Gallo-)Roman heritage and also one of the few cities in southern France without a Greek foundation.

Medieval period[]

In the Early Middle Ages, the nearby episcopal town of Maguelone was the major settlement in the area, but raids by pirates encouraged settlement a little further inland. Montpellier, first mentioned in a document of 985, was founded under a local feudal dynasty, the Guilhem, who combined two hamlets and built a castle and walls around the united settlement. The two surviving towers of the city walls, the Tour des Pins and the Tour de la Babotte, were built later, around the year 1200. Montpellier came to prominence in the 12th century—as a trading centre, with trading links across the Mediterranean world, and a rich Jewish cultural life that flourished within traditions of tolerance of Muslims, Jews and Cathars—and later of its Protestants. William VIII of Montpellier gave freedom for all to teach medicine in Montpellier in 1180. The city's faculties of law and medicine were established in 1220 by Cardinal Conrad of Urach, legate of Pope Honorius III; the medicine faculty has, over the centuries, been one of the major centres for the teaching of medicine in Europe. This era marked the high point of Montpellier's prominence. The city became a possession of the Kings of Aragon in 1204 by the marriage of Peter II of Aragon with Marie of Montpellier, who brought the city as her dowry. Montpellier gained a charter in 1204 when Peter and Marie confirmed the city's traditional freedoms and granted the city the right to choose twelve governing consuls annually. Under the Kings of Aragon, Montpellier became a very important city, a major economic centre and the primary centre for the spice trade in the Kingdom of France. It was the second or third most important city of France at that time, with some 40 000 inhabitants before the Black Death. Montpellier remained a possession of the crown of Aragon until it passed to James III of Majorca, who sold the city to the French king Philip VI in 1349, to raise funds for his ongoing struggle with Peter IV of Aragon. In the 14th century, Pope Urban VIII gave Montpellier a new monastery dedicated to Saint Peter, noteworthy for the very unusual porch of its chapel, supported by two high, somewhat rocket-like towers. With its importance steadily increasing, the city finally gained a bishop, who moved from Maguelone in 1536, and the huge monastery chapel became a cathedral. In 1432, Jacques Cœur established himself in the city and it became an important economic centre, until 1481 when Marseille overshadowed it in this role.

After the Reformation[]

At the time of the Reformation in the 16th century, many of the inhabitants of Montpellier became Protestants (or Huguenots as they were known in France) and the city became a stronghold of Protestant resistance to the Catholic French crown. In 1622, King Louis XIII besieged the city which surrendered after a rude two months siege (Siege of Montpellier), afterwards building the Citadel of Montpellier to secure it. Louis XIV made Montpellier capital of Bas Languedoc, and the town started to embellish itself, by building the Promenade du Peyrou, the Esplanade and a large number of houses in the historic centre. After the French Revolution, the city became the capital of the much smaller Hérault.

Modern history[]

Rue Foch with its typical 19th-century architecture.

During the 19th century the city developed into an industrial centre. In the 1960s, its population grew dramatically after French settlers in Algeria were resettled in the city following Algeria's independence from France. In the 1980s and 1990s, the city drew attention with a number of major redevelopment projects, such as the Corum and especially the Antigone District.

Lords of Montpellier[]

  • William I of Montpellier (died 1019)
  • William II of Montpellier (died 1025)
  • William III of Montpellier (died 1058)
  • William IV of Montpellier (died 1068)
  • William V of Montpellier (died 1121)
  • William VI of Montpellier (died 1149)
  • William VII of Montpellier (died 1179)
  • William VIII of Montpellier (died 1202)
  • Marie of Montpellier (died 1213)
  • James I of Aragon (died 1276)
  • James II of Majorca (died 1311)
  • James III of Majorca


Montpellier seen from Spot satellite

The city is situated on hilly ground 10 km (6 mi) inland from the Mediterranean coast on the River Lez. The name of the city, which was originally Monspessulanus, is said to have stood for mont pelé (the naked hill, because the vegetation was poor), or le mont de la colline (the mount of the hill)

Montpellier is located 170 km (106 mi) from Marseille, 242 km (150 mi) from Toulouse. It is at a distance of 748 km (465 mi) from the capital of France, Paris.

Montpellier's highest point is the Place du Peyrou, at an altitude of 57 m (187 ft). The city is built on two hills, Montpellier and Montpelliéret, thus some of its streets have great differences of altitude. Some of its streets are also very narrow and old, which gives it a more intimate feel.


Montpellier has a Mediterranean climate (Köppen Csa), with mild, damp winters, and very warm, rather dry summers. The monthly mean ranges from 7.1 °C (44.8 °F) in January to 23.4 °C (74.1 °F) in July. Precipitation is around 660 millimetres (26.0 in), and is greatest in fall and winter, but not absent in summer, either. Extreme temperatures have ranged from −17.8 °C (−0.04 °F) recorded on February 5, 1963 and up to 37.5 °C (99.5 °F) on July 17, 1990.

Climate data for Montpellier
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 21.2
Average high °C (°F) 11.1
Daily mean °C (°F) 4.9
Average low °C (°F) −1
Record low °C (°F) −11.8
Rainfall mm (inches) 56
Mean monthly sunshine hours 142 169 226 222 264 301 338 292 232 169 139 123 2,617
Source: Météo France [2]

"Prévisions météo de Météo-France – Climat en France". Météo France. Retrieved 18 October 2010. </ref>



Since 2001, Montpellier has been divided into seven official neighbourhoods, themselves divided into sub-neighbourhoods. Each of them possesses a neighbourhood council.

  • Montpellier-centre : historical centre (Écusson), Comédie, Gares, Faubourg Boutonnet, Saint-Charles, Faubourg Saint-Jaume, Peyrou, Les Arceaux, Figuerolles, Faubourg du Courreau, Gambetta, Clémenceau, Méditerranée, boulevard de Strasbourg, Le Triangle, Polygone, Antigone, Nouveau-Monde, Parc à Ballons, Les Aubes, Les Beaux-Arts, Saint-Lazare.
  • Croix-d'Argent : avenue de Toulouse, Croix d'Argent, Mas Drevon, Tastavin, Lemasson, Garosud, Mas de Bagnères, Mas Nouguier, les Sabines, Lepic, Pas du Loup, Estanove, Val-de-Crozes, Bagatelle.
  • Les Cévennes : Les Cévennes, Alco, Le Petit Bard, Pergola, Saint-Clément, Clémentville, Las Rebès, La Chamberte, La Martelle, Montpellier-Village, Les Grisettes, Les Grèzes.
  • Mosson : La Mosson, Celleneuve, La Paillade, les Hauts-de-Massane, Le Grand-Mail, Les Tritons.
  • Hôpitaux-Facultés : Malbosc, Saint-Priest, Euromédecine, Zolad, Plan des 4 Seigneurs, Hôpitaux, IUT, Père Soulas, Universités, Vert-Bois, Hauts de Boutonnet, Aiguelongue, Justice, Parc zoologique de Lunaret, Agropolis.
  • Port-Marianne : La Pompignane, Richter, Millénaire, Jacques Cœur, Consuls de Mer, Grammont, Odysseum, Montaubérou, La Méjanelle, La Mogère.
  • Prés d'Arènes : Les Prés d'Arènes, Avenue de Palavas, La Rauze, Tournezy, Saint-Martin, Les Aiguerelles, Pont-Trinquat, Cité Mion.


Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1789 29,500
1806 33,264 +12.8%
1820 35,123 +5.6%
1876 55,258 +57.3%
1901 75,950 +37.4%
1911 80,230 +5.6%
1921 81,548 +1.6%
1936 90,787 +11.3%
1946 93,102 +2.5%
1954 97,501 +4.7%
1962 118,864 +21.9%
1968 161,910 +36.2%
1975 191,354 +18.2%
1982 197,231 +3.1%
1990 207,996 +5.5%
1999 225,392 +8.4%
2010 257,351 +14.2%

The whole metropolitan area had a population of 510,400 in 2006. In 2009, it was estimated that the population of the city of Montpellier had reached 265,000.[3] In 2008, the estimated population of the metropolitan area was 531,000.[4]

For most of its history, and even today, Montpellier is known for its significant Spanish population, heritage and influence.


Arms of Montpellier

The arms of Montpellier are blazoned :
Azure, a madonna proper, vested gules and azure, sitting on an antique throne Or, holding a Baby Jesus proper vested azure, in chief the uncial letters A and M, and in base on an inescutcheon argent a torteau (gules).

The virgin is "Notre Dame des Tables", named for the money changing tables at the Basilica of Notre-Dame des Tables. The A and M are for "Ave Maria". The inescutcheon is the arms of the Lords of Montpellier (Guilhem).


Place de la Comédie.

Porte du Peyrou.

Tour de la Babote.

Saint Clément Aqueduct.

Saint Pierre Cathedral

  • The main focus point of the city is the Place de la Comédie, with the Opera Comédie built in 1888.
  • The Musée Fabre.
  • In the historic centre, a significant number of Hôtels can be found. The majority of the buildings of the historic centre of Montpellier (the Ecusson) have medieval roots, and have been modified between the 16th and the 18th centuries. Some buildings, along Rue Foch and the Place de la Comédie, have been built in the 19th century.
  • The Rue du Bras de Fer (Iron Arm Street) is very typical of the medieval Montpellier.
  • The mikve, ritual Jewish bath, dates back to the 12th century and is one of very few in Europe.
  • The Jardin des plantes de Montpellier—oldest botanical garden in France, founded in 1593
  • The La Serre Amazonienne, an Amazon greenhouse
  • The 14th-century Saint Pierre Cathedral
  • The Porte du Peyrou, a triumphal arch built at the end of the 17th century, and the Place Royal du Peyrou built in the 17th century, are the highest point of the Ecusson.
  • The Tour des Pins, the only remaining of 25 towers of the city medieval walls, built around 1200.
  • The Tour de la Babotte, a medieval tower which was modified in the 18th century to welcome an observatory.
  • The Saint Clément Aqueduct, built in the 18th century.
  • The Antigone District and other housing projects have been designed by the architect Ricardo Bofill from Catalonia, Spain
  • A number of châteaux, so-called follies, built by wealthy merchants surround the city



The University of Montpellier is one of the oldest in the world, founded in 1160, and having been granted a charter in 1220 by Cardinal Conrad von Urach and confirmed by Pope Nicholas IV in a papal bull of 1289. It was suppressed during the French Revolution but was re-established in 1896.

It is not known exactly at what date the schools of literature were founded which developed into the Montpellier faculty of arts; it may be that they were a direct continuation of the Gallo-Roman schools. The school of law was founded by Placentinus, a doctor from Bologna university, who came to Montpellier in 1160, taught there during two different periods, and died there in 1192. The school of medicine was founded perhaps by a graduate of the Muslim Spain medical schools; it is certain that, as early as 1137, there were excellent physicians at Montpellier. The statutes given in 1220 by Cardinal Conrad, legate of Honorius III, which were completed in 1240 by Pierre de Conques, placed this school under the direction of the Bishop of Maguelonne. Pope Nicholas IV issued a Bull in 1289, combining all the schools into a university, which was placed under the direction of the bishop, but which in fact enjoyed a large measure of autonomy.

Theology was at first taught in the convents, in which St. Anthony of Padua, Raymond Lullus, and the Dominican Bernard de la Treille lectured. Two letters of King John prove that a faculty of theology existed at Montpellier independently of the convents, in January 1350. By a Bull of 17 December 1421, Martin V granted canonical institution to this faculty and united it closely with the faculty of law. In the 16th century the faculty of theology disappeared for a time, when Calvinism, in the reign of Henry II of France, held complete possession of the city. It resumed its functions after Louis XIII had reestablished the royal power at Montpellier in 1622; but the rivalries of Dominicans and Jesuits interfered seriously with the prosperity of the faculty, which disappeared at the Revolution. The faculty numbered among its illustrious pupils of law Petrarch, who spent four years at Montpellier, and among its lecturers Guillaume de Nogaret, chancellor to Philip the Fair, Guillaume de Grimoard, afterwards pope under the name of Urban V, and Pedro de Luna, antipope as Benedict XIII. But after the 15th century this faculty fell into decay, as did also the faculty of arts, although for a time, under Henry IV of France, the latter faculty had among its lecturers Casaubon.

The Montpellier school of medicine owed its success to the ruling of the Guilhems, lords of the town, by which any licensed physician might lecture there; there was no fixed limit to the number of teachers, lectures were multiplied, and there was a great wealth of teaching. Rabelais took his medical degrees at Montpellier. It was in this school that the biological theory of vitalism, elaborated by Barthez (1734–1806), had its origin. The French Revolution did not interrupt the existence of the faculty of medicine.

The faculties of science and of letters were re-established in 1810; that of law in 1880. It was on the occasion of the sixth centenary of the university, celebrated in 1889, that the Government of France announced its intention—which has since been realized—of reorganizing the provincial universities in France.


  • University of Montpellier 1: medicine, pharmacy, law, sport, business
  • Montpellier 2 University: sciences
  • Paul Valéry University, Montpellier III: arts, languages and social sciences

These three universities are currently forming a PRES (a university consortium), which is planned to soon become a single university: the University of Southern France, Montpellier.

Grandes Ecoles[]

  • National Superior Architecture School of Montpellier(ENSAM)
  • École nationale de l'aviation civile
  • ENSCM: chemistry
  • École pour l'informatique et les nouvelles technologies
  • Montpellier SupAgro: agronomy
  • SUPINFO International University: private institution of higher education in general Computer Science
  • Groupe Sup de Co Montpellier Business School


Line 1 of the tramway network, at the Corum stop.

Montpellier is served by railway, including TGV highspeed trains. Montpellier's main railway station is Saint-Roch. There are plans to construct a high-speed railway linking Nîmes and Montpellier with the LGV Méditerranée.[5]

Montpellier tramway map

The Montpellier – Méditerranée Airport is located in the area of Fréjorgues, in the town of Mauguio, southeast of Montpellier.

The Transports de l'agglomération de Montpellier (TaM) manages the city's public transportation, including its tramway network consisting of four lines and several parking facilities. Line 1 runs from Mosson in the west to Odysseum in the east. Line 2 runs from Jacou in the northeast to St. Jean-de-Vedas in the southwest. Line 3 and Line 4 opened in April 2012. Line 3, which is 22.4 km (13.9 mi) long, links Juvignac and Perols with a branch to Lattes and serves 32 stations. Line 4 circles the center and serves as a connector line between the various arms of tram system. They intersect at Gare St. Roch station, Rives du Lez and Corum.

The TaM also manages the large bike sharing scheme Vélomagg', started in June 2007, comprising 1200 bicycles and 50 stations.[6][7]


Montpellier was the finish of Stage 11 and the departure of Stage 12 in the 2007 Tour de France. The city is home to a variety of professional sports teams:

  • Montpellier Hérault Rugby, of the Top 14 who play rugby union formerly at the Stade Sabathé and now at the Stade Yves du Manoir. In the 2010/2011 season, the team made it to the Top 14 Final against the Stade Toulousain.
  • Montpellier HSC of Ligue 1 who play association football at the Stade de la Mosson. MHSC became French Champions on May 20, 2012.
  • Montpellier Red Devils who play rugby league in Elite 1 division at the Stade Sabathé[8]
  • Montpellier Agglomération Handball are a team handball club playing in the French National League.
  • Montpellier Vipers of France's Division 1 ice hockey Federation, play at the Patinoire de l'Agglomération de Montpellier at Odysseum
  • Montpellier Water Polo play in the National League and European Cup competitions.
  • Barracudas de Montpellier is a baseball club, and competes in Division Élite, a French top level baseball league.

The city is home to the Open Sud de France tennis tournament since 2010, and will host the XXXI World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championship.


The Festival de Radio France et Montpellier is a summer festival of opera and other music held in Montpellier. The festival concentrates on classical music and jazz with about 150 events, including opera, concerts, films, and talks. Most of these events are free and are held in the historic courtyards of the city or in the modern concert halls of Le Corum. Le Corum cultural and conference centre contains 3 auditoriums. The city is a center for cultural events since there are many students. Montpellier has two large concerts venues: Le Zenith Sud (7.000 seats) and L'Arena (14.000 seats).

International relations[]

Sign on the Esplanade Charles de Gaulle, showing Montpellier's sister cities

Twin towns – Sister cities[]

Montpellier is twinned with:

  • United States Louisville, United States, since 1955
  • Germany Heidelberg, Germany, since 1961
  • Greece Kos, Grece, since 1962
  • Spain Barcelona, Spain since 1963[9]
  • People's Republic of China Chengdu, China, since 1981
  • Israel Tiberias, Israel, since 1983
  • Morocco Fes, Morocco since 2003
  • Canada Sherbrooke, Canada, since 2006
  • Algeria Tlemcen, Algeria, since 2009
  • Brazil Rio de Janeiro, Brazil since 2011
  • Palestinian territories Bethlehem, Palestine, since 2012


Montpellier was the birthplace of:

  • Abraham ben Isaac of Narbonne (c. 1110–1179), rabbi and author of the halakhic work Ha-Eshkol.
  • Saint Roch (1295–1327), pilgrim to Rome, venerated as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church
  • Pierre Magnol (1638–1715), botanist, founder of the concept of plant families
  • Jean Jacques Régis de Cambacérès (1753–1824), lawyer and statesman, author of the Code Napoléon
  • Guillaume Mathieu, comte Dumas (1753–1837), military leader
  • Auguste Comte (1798–1857), a founder of the discipline of sociology
  • Antoine Jérôme Balard (1802–1876), chemist
  • Émile Saisset (1814–1863), philosopher
  • Charles Bernard Renouvier (1815–1903), philosopher
  • Édouard Albert Roche (1820–1883), astronomer
  • Alfred Bruyas (1821–1876), art collector
  • Alexandre Cabanel (1823–1889), painter
  • Frédéric Bazille (1841–1870), Impressionist painter
  • Léo Malet (1909–1996), crime novelist
  • Jeanne Demessieux (1921–1968), organist, pianist, composer, and pedagogue
  • Monique de Bissy, member of the Resistance during World War II (1923–2009)
  • Jean-Luc Dehaene (1940– ), Prime-Minister of Belgium
  • Didier Auriol (1958- ), rally driver, 1994 World Rally Champion.
  • Rémi Gaillard (1975– ), famous French prankster

Other famous inhabitants include:

  • François Rabelais (1493–1553) was a student at the University of Montpellier
  • Nostradamus (1503–1566) was a student at the University of Montpellier
  • Ioan Iacob Heraclid, ruler of Moldavia from 1561 to 1563
  • Pierre-Joseph Amoreux (1741–1824), zoologist
  • Jean-Louis Michel (1785–1865), fencing master, who lived in Montpellier from 1830 onwards
  • Agénor Azéma de Montgravier (1805–1863), deputy director of l'Ecole d'Artillerie de Montpellier, died in Montpellier in 1863
  • Gaston Darboux (1842–1917), mathematician
  • Josias Braun-Blanquet (1884–1980), botanist
  • Alexander Grothendieck (1928–), mathematician
  • Nikola Karabatić (1984–) handball player
  • Paul Valéry (1871–1945) was a student at the University of Montpellier
  • Enver Hoxha (1908–1985) was a student at the University of Montpellier
  • Grégory Vignal (1981–), Birmingham City F.C. full-back
  • Taha Hussein (1889–1973) was a student at the University of Montpellier
  • Michel Navratil (1908–2001), survivor of the sinking of the RMS Titanic

Other locations named after Montpellier[]

"Montpellier" is used as the name of other towns and streets in as many as four continents.[10] Many places in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland carry the name Montpellier. Often they are in resort locations claiming some of the healthy attributes for which the French city was renowned in earlier centuries. The variant spelling "Montpelier" is common, and is of quite early provenance. Brewer uses that spelling. The first example was the early 19th-century suburb of Montpelier in Brighton.[11]

Secondary Montpelliers/Montpeliers are also found in Australia, Canada, South Africa, and the Caribbean.

The capital of the American state of Vermont was named Montpelier because of the high regard held by the Americans for the French[12] who aided their Revolutionary War against the British. Several other American cities are also named Montpelier.

See also[]

  • Bishopric of Montpellier
  • Communes of the Hérault department


  1. ^ "Montpellier Tourist Information and Montpellier Tourism". Montpellier Information and Tourism. Retrieved 5 June 2010. 
  2. ^ "Records Montpellier". Retrieved 2013-10-06. 
  3. ^ "Estimations de population et chiffres-clés" (in French). Résultats des enquêtes annuelles de recensement de 2004 à 2007 pour les grandes villes. Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques. January 2008. Retrieved 25 October 2008. 
  4. ^ Adrian Milne (2012-04-06). "Montpellier". Retrieved 2013-10-06. 
  5. ^ "Railway Gazette: Southern LGV projects make progress". Retrieved 14 February 2011. 
  6. ^ Midi Libre (a major daily newspaper in the South of France): "In 2008, 76,000 stations, used 800,000 times, have been registered in Montpellier. A success, and little vandalism compared to the Velib in Paris."
  7. ^ Tous à Vélo AFP 19 October 2007: "Paris, Orléans and Montpellier receive the 'Bicycle Trophy 2007' for their achievement in Bike Sharing programs".
  8. ^ Official website
  9. ^ "Barcelona internacional – Ciutats agermanades" (in Spanish). © 2006–2009 Ajuntament de Barcelona.,4022,229724149_257215678_1,00.html. Retrieved 13 July 2009. 
  10. ^ "All the Montpelliers". 2005. 
  11. ^ "Montpelier & Clifton Hill Conservation Area Character Statement" (PDF). Brighton & Hove City Council (Design & Conservation Department). 20 October 2005. p. 1. Archived from the original on 31 July 2013. Retrieved 31 July 2013. 
  12. ^ Swift, Esther Munroe (1977). Vermont Place Names: Footprints of History. Houghton Mifflin. pp. 451–454. ISBN 0-8289-0291-7. 
  • Lewis, Archibald (1971). The Guillems of Montpellier: A Sociological Appraisal. 

Further reading[]

External links[]

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