Montpellier or Biarritz? Which city should you visit?
Struggling to choose between Montpellier or Biarritz for your next French trip? Here’s a breakdown based on interests:🏛
History Buffs: Montpellier’s rich history and well preserved medieval quarter make it the better destination for history enthusiasts.
🏖 Beach Lovers: Biarritz is famous for its surfing and beaches, making it the clear winner here. Montpellier has it’s own beaches but they’re about 7km away from the city.
🥐 Foodies: Both cities offer fantastic cuisine. Montpellier is more Mediterranean dishes with lots of seafood and North African influences. While Biarritz is all about Basque cuisine. We’d probably choose Biarritz, Basque food is something special. But, the decision is down to personal taste.
🌳 Nature Enthusiasts: Biarritz is the ultimate destination for surfing and walks along the rugged coastline. Montpellier is close to the Mediterranean and the Camargue wetlands, perfect for cycling, swimming and bird watching.
🏢 Urban Explorers: Montpellier’s old town, museums, galleries and interesting architecture make it the better destination for those that love exploring new cities. Biarritz is more of a resort town.
🍷 Wine Lovers: Montpellier’s location in the Languedoc-Roussillon wine region make it the ultimate destination for wine lovers and the clear winner here.
🎒 Backpackers: Being France’s youngest city, Montpellier is the better destination for those looking for a fun, lively holiday amongst a younger crowd.
👵 Over 60’s: Biarritz’s relaxed, seaside feel makes it more suitable for older travellers. Montpellier is can get very lively, so for a slower paced trip, Biarritz would be better.
👨👩👦 Family-Friendly: With the beach on its doorstep, Biarritz has plenty to keep the kids entertained. There’s also a large aquarium that the kids will love. Montpellier’s beach is 7km away making it a bit less practical for families. Montpellier does have a zoo and aquarium but overall we’d say Biarritz is the better destination for a family holiday.
Conclusion: For a youthful city, with a beautiful old town and lots of interesting buildings head to Montpellier. If you’re wanting to spend time by the coast, swimming, surfing and hiking, make your way to Biarritz.
Still can’t decide which is for you? Continue reading to find out more about each of these fantastic cities.
Don’t overlook Montpellier just because it isn’t as famous as Paris or as glitzy as Cannes. This city, near France’s Mediterranean coast, has its own charm. Montpellier is a lively place where lots of cultures come together. You can taste this in the delicious variety of food the city has to offer.
If you love history, Montpellier has lots to offer. The city has been around since the Middle Ages. Its old part of town, Ecusson, is full of tiny, winding streets and hidden squares, waiting for you to explore them. And, of course, you can’t miss the city’s own Arc de Triomphe.
But Montpellier is more than old buildings and good food. The city loves arts and culture, too. You can visit lots of museums, art centres and even catch a festival if you time your visit right. If you want a mix of history, food and a laid-back beach feel, Montpellier could be just the right place for you to visit.
Often referred to as the ‘surfing capital of Europe’,Biarritz is a stunning seaside city located on France’s Basque coast. It’s a place where the glamour of the old world seamlessly blends with the laid-back vibes of a surf town. Known for its grand, Belle Époque architecture, pristine beaches, and world-class surfing conditions, Biarritz is truly an ocean lover’s paradise. Not to forget the city’s vibrant food scene that boasts a unique mix of traditional Basque specialties and innovative fusion cuisine. And if that wasn’t enough, the city also offers plenty of cultural attractions, including museums, art galleries, and historic sites. In short, Biarritz is a delightful mix of elegance, culture, and adventure – an ideal destination for any traveller!
While we’re comparing Montpellier and Biarritz in this post, we’ve also looked at how Montpellier stacks up against other cities like Nantes, Strasbourg or Nice. We’ve linked to those articles below if you want to take a look!
Pros and Cons of Montpellier and Biarritz
- 🌞 Climate: Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild winters, perfect for outdoor activities.
- 🎨 Culture: Abundant art galleries, music venues, and festivals throughout the year.
- 🏖 Beaches: Close proximity to lovely Mediterranean beaches.
- 🍷 Wine: Located in the Languedoc-Roussillon wine region, offering a diverse range of wine-tasting experiences.
- 🏰 Architecture: Stunning medieval architecture, including the Place de la Comédie and the Montpellier Cathedral.
- 💶 Cost: The city can be pricey, especially dining and accommodation in the city center.
- 🚗 Traffic: Can be congested, particularly during the tourist season.
- 🌦 Wind: Known for strong winds like the Mistral, which may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
- 🚶 Walkability: While the city centre is walkable, some attractions may require public transportation or a car.
- 🏄 Surfing: Known as a top surfing destination, attracting enthusiasts from all over the world.
- 🏖 Beaches: Stunning Atlantic beaches ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports.
- 🍴 Cuisine: Excellent food scene, especially seafood and Basque cuisine.
- 🌲 Nature: Close to the Pyrenees for hiking and outdoor activities.
- 🛁 Wellness: Known for its thalassotherapy (sea water therapy) centres
- 💶 Cost: Generally on the expensive side, particularly during the peak summer months.
- 👫 Crowds: Popular tourist destination, can get crowded, especially the beaches.
- 🌧 Weather: Being on the Atlantic coast, the weather can be more variable with occasional rain.
- 🚗 Accessibility: Less easily accessible by train or air compared to other French tourist destinations.
Which City is Safer? Montpellier or Biarritz?
According to Numbeo, Toulouse has a crime index of 50.62, situating it in the moderate category. A good chunk of these reported crimes concern property, such as vandalism and theft. While some neighbourhoods, especially in the northern parts, could raise eyebrows, the city’s primary tourist hubs remain considerably safe. Most visitors to Toulouse enjoy their trips without any significant concerns.
In comparison, Biarritz registers a slightly lower crime index at 49.12. Although the difference with Toulouse isn’t vast, the nature of offences in Biarritz often revolves around minor crimes like pickpocketing, particularly in areas frequented by tourists. Despite this, Biarritz’s relatively laid-back feel adds to the overall feeling of security. As always, tourists should practice standard precautions, such as safeguarding personal belongings and being watchful in crowded spots or during late hours.
How long to stay in Montpellier
Choosing the right amount of time to spend in Montpellier might seem challenging, considering the city’s vibrant culture, historic gems, and pleasant Mediterranean climate. The length of your stay really depends on your personal interests and the pace at which you want to explore.
If your aim is to get a taste of the city’s lively atmosphere, wander through the picturesque old town, and sample local cuisine, a visit of 2 to 3 days should be sufficient. This allows you enough time to explore the charming pedestrian-only streets of the Ecusson, enjoy a coffee at the Place de la Comédie, and relish local delicacies at a traditional restaurant.
However, if you’re interested in delving deeper into Montpellier’s rich history and culture, a 4 to 5 day visit would be more suitable. This gives you ample time to explore historic sites like the Cathedral Saint Pierre, check out art collections at the Fabre Museum, and visit the stunning botanical garden without feeling rushed.
But, if you’re looking for a more immersive experience, a week in Montpellier would be a fantastic choice. This duration would not only let you thoroughly explore city attractions but also allow time for relaxing at nearby Mediterranean beaches, taking day trips to fascinating spots like the medieval town of Aigues-Mortes or the impressive Roman aqueduct, Pont du Gard, and truly absorbing the vibrant, student-friendly vibe of Montpellier.
How long to stay in Biarritz
Three to Four Days: A 3-4 day trip can cover the highlights of Biarritz. You’ll have enough time to stroll around the city centre, visit the main landmarks such as the Rocher de la Vierge and the Biarritz Lighthouse, and soak in the atmosphere of the Les Halles market. Of course, don’t forget to spend some quality time at the Grand Plage, the city’s famous beach. You may also squeeze in a visit to the Aquarium de Biarritz or the Asiatica Museum if you’re interested.
Five to Seven Days: If you’ve got a week in Biarritz, that’s even better! You can take your time exploring the city at a leisurely pace, trying out various water sports, or indulging in the renowned thalassotherapy for which Biarritz is famous. With a few extra days on your hands, consider making day trips to nearby locations like the charming town of Saint-Jean-de-Luz or even cross the border into Spain to explore San Sebastian.
Of course, the length of stay in Biarritz depends on what kind of trip you’re looking for. If you’re seeking a relaxed beach holiday with a sprinkling of city exploration, a longer stay would be suitable. However, if you’re on a whirlwind tour of France or trying to cover multiple cities, a shorter stay would work too. Regardless, Biarritz promises an amazing holiday!
How much is food and drink in Montpellier and Biarritz?
|€5 – €7
|€4 – €7
|Glass of Wine
|€4 – €9
|€4 – €10
|€2 – €4
|€2 – €4
|Meal at Midrange Restaurant
|€20 – €40
|€20 – €40
How much is it to stay in Montpellier or Biarritz?
When is the best time to visit Montpellier?
Spring: Pleasant and Lush
🌸 Spring (April to June): Montpellier is quite pleasant during these months, with average temperatures ranging from 15-25°C (59-77°F). The city comes alive with various outdoor events, and the landscapes are beautifully lush. This makes it an ideal time for sightseeing and enjoying the local parks.
Summer: Hot and Beachy
☀️ Summer (July to August): Temperatures can soar up to 30°C (86°F), making it perfect for beach visits since Montpellier is just a short distance from the Mediterranean Sea. Be aware, though, that it’s also the peak tourist season, so the city can get crowded and prices might be higher.
Autumn: Comfortable and Relaxed
🍂 Autumn (September to October): The weather is comfortable with temperatures around 20-25°C (68-77°F). The city is less crowded during these months, making it a great time to explore historical sites and enjoy local outdoor cafes.
Winter: Mild and Indoor-Friendly
❄️ Winter (November to March): The weather can be quite mild with temperatures around 10-15°C (50-59°F), although it can occasionally drop lower. While it’s not the best time for outdoor activities, it’s a good period to explore Montpellier’s museums and indoor attractions.
When is the best time to visit Biarritz?
Spring: Surf’s Up
🏄 Spring (March to May): In Biarritz, spring is an ideal time for surfers as the waves are just right and the weather is warming up. The city is less crowded, offering a more intimate experience. This season is a great time to learn surfing as many surf schools open their doors.
Summer: Sun, Sea, and Sand
☀️ Summer (June to August): Biarritz is vibrant and sunny during the summer, making it perfect for beach activities, from sunbathing to swimming. The city is bustling with tourists and locals alike. However, this is also the peak tourist season, so be prepared for larger crowds and higher prices.
Autumn: Tranquil Beauty
🍂 Autumn (September to November): Autumn brings a peaceful charm to Biarritz. The summer crowds thin out, and the city regains its tranquillity. The weather remains pleasant, and the Atlantic Ocean is still warm enough for swimming and surfing. This season is also ideal for leisurely walks to appreciate the changing colours of nature.
Winter: Serene Solitude
❄️ Winter (December to February): Winter in Biarritz is relatively mild and quieter, with fewer tourists. It’s the perfect time to explore the city’s museums, like the Biarritz History Museum or the Asiatica Museum, without the crowds. You could also enjoy the city’s renowned thalassotherapy centres for a relaxing spa experience.
☔ Weather: The weather in Biarritz is generally mild, with warm summers and cool winters. Rainfall is evenly distributed throughout the year, so an umbrella could come in handy. For the best weather, plan your visit during the shoulder seasons of April to June or September to October, when the climate is most agreeable and there are fewer tourists.
Average Monthly Temperatures
|Montpellier High/Low (°C)
|Montpellier Rain (days)
|Biarritz High/Low (°C)
|Biarritz Rain (days)
|11° / 2°
|13° / 5°
|12° / 3°
|14° / 5°
|15° / 5°
|16° / 7°
|18° / 8°
|17° / 9°
|21° / 12°
|20° / 12°
|26° / 15°
|23° / 15°
|29° / 18°
|25° / 17°
|28° / 18°
|25° / 17°
|25° / 14°
|24° / 15°
|20° / 11°
|21° / 12°
|15° / 6°
|16° / 8°
|12° / 3°
|14° / 6°
Getting around Montpellier is a breeze thanks to its efficient and well-connected public transportation system.
The city’s tram network covers most of the city and is very easy to use. It’s probably the best way to travel around the city cheaply and easily. The trams are even a sight to see themselves, each line designed by a different artist which gives it all a sense of fun!
On top of the trams, Montpellier also boasts numerous bus lines that can take you to places the trams don’t reach. If you prefer to take control of your own travel, the city has several bike rental services, thanks to its flat layout and plentiful bike lanes. The city centre is primarily pedestrianized, making it easy and delightful to explore on foot. Plus, it’s hard to beat a leisurely stroll through Montpellier’s historic streets!
Don’t forget about the Montpellier Méditerranée Airport, located just on the outskirts of the city, if you’re looking to explore further afield. There are plenty of car rental services available here too. So whether you’re sticking to the city or venturing out, getting around in Montpellier is easy, efficient, and convenient.
Getting around Biarritz:
Biarritz, being a compact town, offers multiple easy travel options. The local bus system, Chronoplus, provides regular services around town and to nearby areas.
For those wishing to venture further, car rentals are available, although parking can be tricky during peak season. Within the city, walking is a popular choice due to the town’s small size, allowing you to reach most places on foot.
Bike rentals offer an active alternative for getting around, and of course, taxis and rideshare services like Uber are always at your disposal for convenient, direct transport. However, these might come with a higher cost compared to public transportation.
Top things to do in Montpellier
- Place de la Comédie: Often referred to as the heart of Montpellier, this bustling square is surrounded by cafes and restaurants. Here, you can absorb the vibrant city atmosphere and admire the iconic Three Graces fountain in the center.
- Musée Fabre: A short walk from the Place de la Comédie will lead you to this prominent art museum. It boasts an impressive collection of European art, spanning from the Renaissance to contemporary pieces.
- Montpellier Zoological Park: This extensive zoological park is a paradise for animal lovers, with a wide variety of species and a unique Amazon greenhouse that replicates the Amazon Rainforest’s ecosystem.
- Jardin des Plantes: Established in 1593, this is the oldest botanical garden in France. Take a leisurely stroll through the lush gardens, filled with an array of plant species.
- Antigone District: Just east of the city center, this district is a testament to Montpellier’s modern architectural achievements. Inspired by Greek and Roman designs, it creates a unique and visually striking urban landscape.
Top things to do in Biarritz
- Biarritz’s Beaches: Famed for their beauty and surf-friendly waves, Biarritz’s beaches are the heart of the town. Grande Plage, the largest beach, offers plenty of room for sunbathing and swimming, while Côte des Basques is the surfers’ choice.
- Musée de la Mer: This sea museum offers insight into marine life with numerous aquariums housing everything from sharks to sea urchins. It’s an ideal destination for families and marine enthusiasts.
- Phare de Biarritz: The Biarritz Lighthouse stands tall on the town’s northern cliff. You can climb the 248 steps to the top for a panoramic view of Biarritz and its surrounding areas.
- Rocher de la Vierge: This iconic rock formation is accessed by a bridge and offers stunning views over Biarritz. Named for the statue of Virgin Mary placed on top of it, it’s a picturesque spot worth visiting.
- Les Halles de Biarritz: To taste the flavors of Biarritz, visit Les Halles, the town’s vibrant food market. Here, you’ll find a fantastic assortment of regional produce, cheeses, pastries, and seafood to savour.
How to spend three days in Montpellier
Day 1: Exploring the Heart of Montpellier
Begin your Montpellier adventure at Place de la Comédie, the city’s bustling central square. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at one of the local cafes and soak in the vibrant atmosphere. Next, explore the surrounding historic district, Ecusson, with its narrow, winding streets, charming squares, and elegant mansions. Post lunch, visit the Montpellier Cathedral and the Musee Fabre, a leading fine arts museum in the region. Finish your day with a delicious dinner at one of the many excellent restaurants in the city centre.
Day 2: Diving into Science and History
Kick off the second day at the Odysseum, a large shopping and leisure center. Here, you can visit the Planetarium Galilee for a fascinating journey through the cosmos. Later, explore the Château de Flaugergues, a historic castle with beautiful gardens, followed by a wine tasting tour. In the evening, enjoy a walk along the banks of the Lez River, followed by a dinner featuring local Languedoc cuisine.
Day 3: Enjoying Nature and Leisure
Devote your last day to the outdoors. Start with a visit to the Montpellier Zoological Park, home to a wide variety of species. After a picnic lunch in the park, head to the Lunaret botanical garden, the oldest botanical garden in France. Later, you could explore the nearby seaside towns like Palavas-les-Flots or La Grande-Motte, offering beautiful Mediterranean beaches. End your trip with a farewell dinner in Montpellier, reminiscing over your favorite moments.
How to spend three days in Biarritz
Day 1: Embrace the Ocean’s Call
Begin your day with a leisurely stroll along the Grande Plage, Biarritz’s main beach, perhaps even braving a morning dip. Later, explore the marine life at the Musée de la Mer Aquarium, where the seal feeding sessions are a highlight. As the day mellows, find a cozy spot in the Old Port area to enjoy some local pintxos and a picturesque sunset.
Day 2: Ride the Waves and Revel in the Views
Kick-off your second day by diving into Biarritz’s renowned surf culture with a lesson at a local surf school. In the afternoon, wind down with a scenic walk along Rocher de la Vierge, an iconic rock formation offering breathtaking views. Cap off your day with a fresh seafood dinner at the charming Port des Pêcheurs.
Day 3: Explore Local Flavours and Neighbouring Charm
Start your final day early at Les Halles de Biarritz, sampling fresh local produce from the bustling market. Later, venture out on a short bus ride to the neighboring town of Bayonne. Absorb its picturesque streets, try the famous Bayonne ham, and let the city’s Basque charm captivate you. Finish your trip back in Biarritz with a farewell drink overlooking the ocean.
Gareth is an avid city adventurer with a particular passion for finding amazing food! There’s quite literally nothing he doesn’t like. He spends most of his travelling time trying to find great restaurants and cafes to eat at. Alongside trying local street food which he loves! He’s done most of his travelling in Europe so far but would love to visit Japan and Mexico
When not travelling you can find Gareth boxing, running, or in the gym. He’s got a passion for exercise and loves physical challenges.
You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org