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In the southern region of Languedoc-Roussillon in France, Montpellier is a fashionable city where elegant châteaux sit alongside ultra-modern buildings. Here, visitors will find grand mansions with manicured courtyards that turn into party hotspots in the evening. Even the local trams are stylish, with livery designed by famed French couturier Christian Lacroix. The city's backstreets are lined with student-filled bars and clubs, while pristine sandy beaches dot the nearby coastline.
Hostels in Montpellier range from cosy rooms in historic buildings to stylish suites in modern blocks. You can pick a Montpellier hostel with an outdoor pool or one with a fitness centre for a good workout. Most have free Wi-Fi, while some have extras such as TVs and complimentary breakfasts. Other Montpellier hostels have communal spaces and garden terraces, where you can mix and mingle with fellow travellers.
L’Écusson is Montpellier's historic centre, with a medieval layout of narrow, winding streets. Its beating heart is the Place de la Comédie, an atmospheric square that's bustling with skateboarders and street artists. Past the triumphal arch of Porte du Peyrou lies the Promenade du Peyrou, a pretty esplanade with green spaces. For a different vibe, head to the neighbourhood of Antigone, which pays homage to Ancient Greece. Here, visitors will find wide boulevards lined with Neoclassical buildings and dotted with water features.
The best starting points for exploring Montpellier's old town are the atmospheric alleys of Rue de la Valfère and Rue du Bras de Fer. You'll soon stumble across Montpellier Cathedral, with its Gothic architecture and imposing twin conical pillars. After dark, the outdoor terraces on Place Jean Jaurès are the perfect spot for a drink or two. A short tram ride takes you to the Odysseum, an entertainment park with a shopping mall, a cinema and an ice rink. You could also hire a bike and cycle the pathways along the River Lez.
Montpellier-Méditerranée Airport is around 8km from the city. From here, bus 120 goes to the centre in about 15 minutes. For visitors arriving by train, Gare de Montpellier-Saint-Roch station is a 5-minute walk from Place de la Comédie. Within Montpellier, there's a modern tram service with four lines that cover practically all of the city. If you're looking to explore more of France, you can catch trains to nearby destinations like Narbonne, Carcassonne and Sète, as well as Paris.