Montpellier or Cannes? Which city should you visit?
Considering a French getaway and can’t decide between Montpellier or Cannes? It’s not an easy choice but we’ll help you decide. Here’s a quick rundown based on interests.
🏛 History Buffs: Whilst Cannes might be famous for its film festival and the luxury lifestyle, it’s actually got some amazing pieces of history. The old town is very pretty, but it’s the castles and the monastery here that will get the history buffs excited. Something that Montpellier can’t quite match.
🏖 Beach Lovers: An easy win for Cannes, this city is synonymous with beach holidays and the French Riviera the city is built along the beach. Whereas Montpellier is a short trip away.
🥐 Foodies: Both of these cities have a mixture of Southern French and Mediterranean cuisines here, whichever you go to, you’ll be in for some good food! But, as you’d expect Cannes tends to cater to a wealthier clientele, and as a result has more high end restaurants. If you want a more down to earth food scene, head to Montpellier.
🌳 Nature Enthusiasts: Cannes wins this one, whilst Montpellier is close to some spectacular protected wetlands it can’t quite match the diverse outdoor activities on offer in Cannes. The opportunity for hiking in Parc Naturel Régional des Préalpes d’Azur and scuba diving in the Lérins Islands will have most outdoor lovers drooling.
🏢 Urban Explorers: Montpellier’s bustling city vibe, fantastic old town and wide range of activities make it the more interesting city to explore.
🍷 Wine Lovers: For wine enthusiasts, Montpellier’s proximity to the Languedoc wine region makes it the better destination for Oenophiles.
🎒 Backpackers: Montpellier’s affordable, laid-back vide is much better for backpackers. Cannes is very beautiful but it’s expensive and there isn’t as much to do.
👵 Over 60’s: Cannes’ relaxed, beachside atmosphere is perfect for older travellers. Montpellier is vibrant and could get a bit much for older travellers, especially when the students are back.
👨👩👦 Family-Friendly: Cannes take the lead for family holidays. It’s beautiful beaches and safe feel make it a perfect place to take the kids. The kids will also love marvelling at the yachts in the marina too! Montpellier is a better city for exploring, which the kids may find boring.
Conclusion: If you’re drawn to a lively city with a rich history and a down to earth food scene, head to Montpellier. But, if you’re wanting a relaxing beachside holiday with luxurious feel to it, head to Cannes.
Still torn between the two, keep on reading for a more thorough rundown of the two.
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.
Known worldwide for its famous film festival, Cannes truly is a star of the Côte d’Azur. Here, you can wander along La Croisette, a boulevard lined with palm trees and luxury boutiques, with the sparkling Mediterranean Sea as your backdrop. The Old Town, known as Le Suquet, offers a change of pace with its winding streets and panoramic views of the city and sea. But Cannes isn’t just about the glitz and glamour. It’s also a city with beautiful sandy beaches, splendid villas, and a rich history. Whether you’re looking for luxury, culture, or simply a place to relax in the sun, Cannes has got everything.
While we’re comparing Montpellier and Cannes in this post, we’ve also looked at how Montpellier stacks up against other cities like Nantes, Lille or Bordeaux. We’ve linked to those articles below if you want to take a look!
Pros and Cons of Montpellier and Cannes
- 🏛 Culture: Rich in museums, galleries, and theaters.
- 👩🎓 Student Life: A youthful, academic atmosphere.
- 🍷 Wine: Located in a prime wine region.
- 🌳 Green Spaces: Plenty of parks for relaxation.
- 🚊 Public Transport: Efficient tram system for easy navigation.
- 💶 Moderate Cost: Not as expensive as Cannes but still not cheap.
- 🏖 Beaches: Require a short trip.
- 📸 Tourist Attractions: Less iconic than Cannes.
- 🌃 Nightlife: Vibrant but more laid-back and student-focused compared to Cannes.
- 🌡 Weather: Hot summers may not be for everyone.
- 🎥 Film Festival: World-renowned annual event.
- 🏖 Beaches: Ideal for sunbathers.
- 🛍 Shopping: Focused on luxury brands.
- 🍴 Dining: Gourmet Mediterranean cuisine.
- 🎬 Entertainment: A range of activities and events.
- 💦 Water Sports: Abundant options.
- 🍸 Nightlife: Upscale clubs and bars.
- 💶 Cost: High, especially during events.
- 👫 Crowded: Can feel packed during popular events.
- 🏛 Few Historical Sites: Less for history enthusiasts.
- 🚌 Public Transport: Less reliable than Montpellier.
- 🏨 Accommodation: Limited budget options.
- 🍽 Limited Local Cuisine: Dominated by fine dining.
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 Cannes
Determining how long to stay in Cannes depends on what you’re looking to get out of your visit. With its sunny beaches, luxurious lifestyle, and vibrant cultural scene, Cannes has something for everyone.
For those looking to enjoy the sun and sand, a weekend getaway might suffice. This gives you time to soak up the sun on Cannes’ beautiful beaches, take a leisure stroll along the glamorous La Croisette Boulevard, and perhaps enjoy a meal at a seaside restaurant.
However, if you’re interested in exploring Cannes’ cultural attractions, such as the Le Suquet old town, the Musée de la Castre, or the various art galleries around town, a stay of three to four days would be more suitable. This will allow you to experience these attractions without feeling rushed.
For a more relaxed pace and time to explore beyond Cannes itself, consider a stay of a week or longer. This would give you ample time to enjoy day trips to the nearby Lerins Islands or other charming towns along the French Riviera like Nice, Antibes, and Saint-Tropez.
How much is food and drink in Montpellier and Cannes?
|5 – 7
|6 – 8
|Glass of Wine
|4 – 9
|5 – 12
|2 – 4
|2 – 4
|Meal at Midrange Restaurant
|20 – 40
|25 – 50
How much is it to stay in Montpellier or Cannes?
|Montpellier (€ per night)
|Cannes (€ per night)
|200 – 600
|300 – 1000
|80 – 150
|100 – 300
|50 – 80
|60 – 100
|20 – 40
|20 – 40
When is the best time to visit Montpellier?
🌸 Spring: Between April and June, Montpellier is quite pleasant with average temperatures ranging from 15-25°C (59-77°F). The city starts to come alive with various outdoor events, and the landscapes are beautifully lush, making it an ideal time for sightseeing and enjoying the local parks.
☀️ Summer: From July to August, temperatures can soar up to 30°C (86°F), making it perfect for beach visits as Montpellier is just a short distance from the Mediterranean Sea. Be aware, though, that it’s also peak tourist season, so the city can get crowded, and prices might be higher.
🍂 Autumn: September to October offers comfortable temperatures around 20-25°C (68-77°F). The city is less crowded during these months, and it’s a great time to explore the historical sites and enjoy local outdoor cafes.
❄️ Winter: November to March can be quite mild with temperatures around 10-15°C (50-59°F), though it can occasionally drop lower. While it’s not the best time for outdoor activities, it’s a good time to explore Montpellier’s museums and indoor attractions.
🌦️ Note: Do remember to check the weather forecast close to your travel dates as conditions can sometimes change unexpectedly.
When is the best time to visit Cannes?
🌼 Spring: March to May is a fantastic time to visit Cannes. The annual Cannes Film Festival in May turns the city into a global hotspot for film lovers. Expect larger crowds and higher prices during this period. Temperatures are generally pleasant, perfect for exploring the city and nearby attractions.
☀️ Summer: June to August is all about the beach in Cannes. The weather is typically warm, full of sunshine — ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and other beach activities. Outdoor festivals and events are common, adding to the city’s lively atmosphere.
🍁 Autumn: September to November, and you’ll find a more relaxed experience. The summer crowds have dispersed, making the city quieter and more peaceful. It’s an excellent time to explore cultural attractions and the beautiful autumn scenery of the French Riviera.
❄️ Winter: December to February marks the low season, with fewer tourists and lower prices. Though it’s not beach weather, it’s still pleasant enough for strolls along La Croisette or visits to nearby towns.
Average Monthly Temperatures
|Montpellier (High / Low °C)
|Cannes (High / Low °C)
|11° / 2°
|13° / 4°
|12° / 3°
|14° / 4°
|15° / 5°
|16° / 6°
|18° / 8°
|18° / 9°
|21° / 12°
|22° / 13°
|26° / 15°
|25° / 16°
|29° / 18°
|28° / 19°
|28° / 18°
|28° / 19°
|25° / 14°
|25° / 15°
|20° / 11°
|21° / 12°
|15° / 6°
|17° / 7°
|12° / 3°
|14° / 4°
Getting around Montpellier:
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 Cannes:
Navigating Cannes is surprisingly simple, even for first-time visitors. The city offers a mix of public transport and walkable districts that make getting around hassle-free. The city’s public bus system, operated by Palm Bus, covers a broad area, making stops at popular spots throughout Cannes and its suburbs. The bus service is reliable and runs frequently so you’ll never be waiting too long.
If you’re staying in the city centre, most places are easily reached on foot. The famous Boulevard de la Croisette, lined with luxury shops, restaurants, and of course, the Cannes Film Festival venue, is perfect for a leisurely walk. You’ll get to soak up the sun, enjoy the sea breeze, and maybe even spot a celebrity or two!
For more independent travel, consider renting a bike or an electric scooter. Cannes is bike-friendly with several bike paths and routes around the city. And if you’re planning to explore the French Riviera further, Cannes’ train station, Gare de Cannes, offers regular services to other glamorous towns along the coast.
Cannes-Mandelieu Airport, situated just a short drive from the city centre, serves a number of domestic and international flights, making the city easily accessible. There are also several car hire companies operating in and around the airport if you prefer to drive yourself. In short, Cannes offers a variety of ways to get around that cater to different travel styles and preferences.
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 Cannes
- La Croisette Boulevard: Cannes’ most famous promenade offers stunning sea views, luxury shops, and first-class restaurants. It’s also home to the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, where the Cannes Film Festival is held.
- Le Suquet (Old Town): A charming area with narrow winding streets, the Old Town offers a break from Cannes’ glitz. Don’t miss the spectacular views from the historic watchtower and church at the top.
- Lerins Islands: Just a short ferry ride from Cannes, these islands are perfect for a day trip. Visit the historic Fort Royal on Sainte-Marguerite Island and the Cistercian monastery on Saint-Honorat Island.
- Cannes’ Beaches: Cannes is famous for its beaches. Whether you choose a private beach with amenities or a public beach, it’s a must for any visit.
- Marché Forville: For a local experience, visit this daily market where you’ll find a range of fresh produce, cheeses, and other regional delicacies.
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 center.
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 Cannes
Day 1: Explore the City and La Croisette
Start your Cannes journey by taking a leisurely stroll down La Croisette Boulevard. Visit the famous Palais des Festivals et des Congrès and walk in the footsteps of the movie stars. Spend the rest of your morning exploring the luxury shops and enjoying the sea views. After lunch, hit one of Cannes’ stunning beaches for some relaxation. Round off your day with a lovely dinner at one of the seafront restaurants.
Day 2: Discover the Old Town and Islands
Spend your second day exploring Le Suquet, the Old Town. Wander its quaint, winding streets, enjoy the local shops and cafes, and take in the stunning views from the top. After lunch, catch a ferry to the Lerins Islands. Explore the historic Fort Royal on Sainte-Marguerite Island and the Cistercian monastery on Saint-Honorat Island. Return to Cannes for dinner, perhaps choosing a restaurant in Le Suquet for its charming atmosphere.
Day 3: Enjoy the Local Culture and Scenery
On your final day, visit Marché Forville in the morning to explore the local produce and delicacies. Consider a picnic lunch with your market purchases at one of the local parks or beaches. In the afternoon, visit the Musée de la Castre for its collection of Mediterranean and Eastern artifacts, not to mention fantastic panoramic views from the tower. Conclude your visit to Cannes with a farewell dinner at a restaurant offering Provençal specialties.
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