Montpellier or Lille? Which city should you visit?
Planning a trip to France but can’t choose between Montpellier or Lille? Don’t worry, you’ve come to the right place! Here’s a quick rundown based on interests.
🏛 History Buffs: Whilst Montpellier does have a range of historical attractions like the city’s cathedral, Aqueduc Saint-Clément and the old town. It can’t quite match Lille diversity. Lille’s old town, Cathedral, Citadel and proximity to the battlefields of WW1 make it the clear winner here.
🏖 Beach Lovers: An easy win for Montpellier. Lille is about 100km away from the beach compared to only 7km for Montpellier.
🥐 Foodies: Montpellier’s offers a mix of Southern French and Mediterranean food, with some North African flavours like spicy octopus pie, mussels and oysters. Whereas Lille is a fusion of French and Flemish, think its hearty food that leaves you feeling full. There’s lots of meaty stews on offer, the waffles are incredible too. So, which is making your stomach rumble the most?
🌳 Nature Enthusiasts: Montpellier’s proximity to the protected wetlands along the coast and inland nature reserves make it a clear winner.
🏢 Urban Explorers: Lille’s beautiful city centre, museums and shopping scene make it a better choice for those that love exploring cities. Montpellier is fantastic but there’s much more to see in Lille.
🍷 Wine Lovers: Montpellier is in the the Languedoc-Roussillon wine region, the biggest in the world. Lille might have incredible beers on offer, but if you love wine head to Montpellier.
🎒 Backpackers: Montpellier’s youthful vibe, location on the French Riveira and amazing weather makes it a better option for backpackers. Lille might feel a bit more grown up compared to Montpellier, but it’s still a great destination.
👵 Over 60’s: Lille’s vast range of museums, galleries and incredible architecture wins here. Montpellier might get a bit busy for older travellers.
👨👩👦 Family-Friendly: Whilst Lille does have some good family friendly options like the the zoo and kid focused amusement park, Montpellier’s beaches and outdoor lifestyle is probably better.
Conclusion: If you’re looking for beaches, outdoor activities and a diverse food scene, make your way to Montpellier. If you’re more interested in art, architecture and exploring a beautiful city, head to Lille!
Still on the fence? Keep reading for a more in-depth analysis of the two.
While we’re comparing Montpellier and Lille in this post, we’ve also looked at how Montpellier stacks up against other cities like Cannes, Lille or Nice. We’ve linked to those articles below if you want to take a look!
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.
Nestled near the border with Belgium, Lille has a unique charm that’s all its own. This vibrant city blends French and Flemish influences, creating an ambiance that’s distinct yet welcoming. The old town, Vieux Lille, enchants visitors with its narrow cobbled streets and colourful old houses.
But it’s not just about the past here. Lille is also a young city, thanks to its large student population, and this brings a dynamic, energetic feel to the place. Whether you’re exploring the bustling markets, diving into the lively arts scene, or just relaxing in a cosy café, Lille has something for everyone. It’s a city that knows how to live well and invites you to share in that.
Pros and Cons of Montpellier and Lille
- 🏛 Culture: Rich array of museums, galleries, and theaters.
- 👩🎓 Student Life: Vibrant due to its academic institutions.
- 🍷 Wine: Situated in Languedoc-Roussillon, one of France’s prime wine regions.
- 🌳 Green Spaces: Ample parks and squares for leisure.
- 🚊 Public Transport: Efficient tram system simplifies city navigation.
- 💶 Moderate Cost: More budget-friendly than Cannes but can still be pricey.
- 🏖 Beaches: Accessible but require a short journey.
- 🌃 Nightlife: Lively but leans towards a laid-back, student-focused vibe.
- 🌡 Weather: Summers can get quite hot.
- 📸 Tourist Attractions: Less iconic sights compared to other French cities.
- 🎨 Art: Home to renowned museums like Palais des Beaux-Arts.
- 🍻 Café Culture: Known for its inviting cafés and bars.
- 🚆 Connectivity: Excellent rail links to other European cities.
- 🛍 Shopping: Wide range of retail options, including local markets.
- 🎪 Events: Frequent festivals and public events, notably the Braderie de Lille.
- 🌧 Weather: Often cloudy and rainy, especially in winter.
- 💶 Cost: Generally more affordable than southern cities but not cheap.
- 🎉 Nightlife: More limited in scope compared to Montpellier.
- 🍴 Cuisine: Local dishes might not be to everyone’s taste.
- 🌿 Lack of Natural Beauty: Not as scenic as coastal or mountainous areas.
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 Lille
For a short trip, 2-3 days in Lille should give you enough time to see the main sights. You can explore the charming old town, visit a museum or two, and enjoy some local food. This is a good option if you’re on a tight schedule or if you’re visiting Lille as part of a larger trip.
If you have a bit more time, a week in Lille allows you to experience the city more fully. You can take your time exploring the city’s different neighbourhoods, visit more museums, and even take day trips to nearby cities like Bruges or Ghent.
So, whether you’re planning a quick visit or a longer stay, Lille has plenty to offer. But remember, the best trip length for you will depend on your personal interests and how much time you have available.
How much is food and drink in Montpellier and Lille?
|€5 – €7
|€5 – €7
|Glass of Wine
|€4 – €9
|€3 – €10
|€2 – €4
|€1.50 – €3
|Meal at Midrange Restaurant
|€20 – €40 per person
|€20 – €40 per person
How much is it to stay in Montpellier or Lille?
|€200 – €600
|€150 – €500
|€80 – €150
|€70 – €150
|€50 – €80
|€40 – €70
|€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.
When is the best time to visit Lille?
🌼 Spring: Between March and May, Lille begins to revive after winter. The city’s parks and gardens blossom, and the temperatures are mild. It’s a fantastic time for outdoor activities and offers a chance to experience the city without the summer crowds.
☀️ Summer: From June to August, Lille experiences warm temperatures and is bustling with life. The city’s old town is vibrant, and markets come alive. Notably, the city hosts events like the Lille Braderie, a significant flea market, making it a unique cultural experience. Be prepared for lively streets during this season.
🍁 Autumn: Between September and November, Lille showcases a vibrant palette of changing colors. The mild weather allows visitors to enjoy the beauty of falling leaves in the city parks, making it a picturesque season, especially for photographers.
❄️ Winter: From December to February, Lille becomes a festive wonderland despite the chill. The city lights up with the Christmas market, creating a magical atmosphere that compensates for the colder temperatures. Indoor attractions and festive events are highlights during this period.
Average Monthly Temperatures
|Montpellier High / Low (°C)
|Lille High / Low (°C)
|11° / 2°
|6° / 1°
|12° / 3°
|7° / 1°
|15° / 5°
|11° / 3°
|18° / 8°
|14° / 5°
|21° / 12°
|18° / 9°
|26° / 15°
|21° / 11°
|29° / 18°
|23° / 14°
|28° / 18°
|23° / 13°
|25° / 14°
|20° / 11°
|20° / 11°
|15° / 8°
|15° / 6°
|10° / 4°
|12° / 3°
|7° / 2°
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 Lille:
Getting around Lille is a breeze thanks to its efficient public transport system, which includes buses, trams, and a metro. The Lille Metro is particularly notable as it was the world’s first fully automated light rail network. For shorter distances, walking or cycling is quite feasible as Lille is a compact city with many pedestrianized areas.
There’s also a bike-sharing program known as V’Lille. If you plan on exploring the wider region, trains from Lille’s stations offer quick connections to other major cities in France and Belgium.
Lille is easy to get around due to its buses, trams and metro system. City passes are a good way to save money if you plan on making the most of public transport. Lille’s city centre is quite compact so it’s very walkable. You could hire a bike too if you wanted.
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 Lille
- Visit the Palais des Beaux-Arts: As the second-largest general interest museum in France, the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Lille houses an impressive collection of paintings, sculptures, and drawings from the likes of Rubens, Van Dyck, and Delacroix.
- Stroll around the Vieux Lille: The old town of Lille, with its cobblestone streets, beautiful old houses, and chic boutiques, is perfect for leisurely walks. Take time to enjoy the area’s charm, and don’t forget to try a Merveilleux, a local pastry.
- Explore the LaM: Standing for Lille Métropole Museum of Modern, Contemporary and Outsider Art, the LaM holds over 4,000 works including pieces by Picasso, Modigliani, and Miro. Its beautiful park is also a must-see.
- Take a walk through the Citadel: Designed by Louis XIV’s engineer Vauban, the Citadel is a star-shaped fortress. The surrounding park, Bois de Boulogne, is a great place for a picnic or a jog.
- Visit the Wazemmes Market: This is one of the largest markets in France and a must-visit spot in Lille. From fresh produce to clothing, you’ll find almost everything here. Try to catch it on Sunday when it’s at its liveliest.
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 Lille
Day 1: Get Acquainted with Lille and Its Historic Heart
Begin your Lille adventure by meandering through the streets of Vieux Lille, the city’s old quarter. Marvel at the charming Flemish architecture, visit the imposing Lille Cathedral, and indulge in some retail therapy at upscale boutiques. After lunch, head over to the Grand Place, the city’s main square, where you can admire historic buildings like the Vieille Bourse. Cap off your day with a delicious meal at one of the local French or Flemish restaurants in the area.
Day 2: Dive into Lille’s Cultural Treasures and Parks
Start your second day by visiting some of Lille’s renowned museums. Explore the Palais des Beaux-Arts to see masterpieces from Goya, Rubens, and other great artists. Post-lunch, take a leisurely stroll or have a picnic at the Citadel Park, home to the impressive 17th-century Citadel. In the evening, venture back to Vieux Lille for dinner, opting for a cosy bistro for its delightful atmosphere.
Day 3: Embrace the Local Atmosphere and Farewell Meal
On your final day, immerse yourself in the local vibe at Wazemmes Market in the morning. Here you can sample local delicacies and pick up fresh produce. Consider a picnic lunch at the beautiful Jardin des Plantes, one of the city’s lovely green spaces. In the afternoon, pay a visit to the Maison Natale de Charles de Gaulle, the birthplace of the former French president. To wrap up your Lille trip, enjoy a farewell dinner at a restaurant serving traditional Northern French cuisine.
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 email@example.com