Montpellier or Nantes? Which city should you visit?
Looking at visiting Montpellier or Nantes for your next getaway to France? Don’t worry, we’ll help you decide. Here’s a quick rundown based on interests.
🏛 History Buffs: Nantes’ rich maritime history, impressive cathedral and interesting Castle of the Dukes of Brittany win this one. Montpellier’s old town and cathedral are fantastic but it can’t quite match Nantes’ depth.
🏖 Beach Lovers: Montpellier is only a short bus ride from the sea making it the clear winner here.
🥐 Foodies: Nantes and Montpellier are both culinary gems and due to their proximity to the sea you can expect incredible seafood. Nantes feels more typically French whereas Montpellier has more Mediterranean and North African influences. So who wins all boils down to your own palate.
🌳 Nature Enthusiasts: Nantes has the Loire Valley which is perfect for walking and cycling. Whereas Montpellier is close to natural wetlands and the Mediterranean. If you’d rather be by the river, head to Nantes. For the sea, go to Montpellier.
🏢 Urban Explorers: Nantes takes this one, its thriving art scene, incredible restaurants and interesting museums make it perfect for a few days exploring the city. Montpellier can get a bit busy and very hot in summer!
🍷 Wine Lovers: Both cities are close to famous wine regions. Nantes is sat just above the Loire Valley wine region whilst Montpellier is in Languedoc. We’d recommend letting your choice in wine guide you.
🎒 Backpackers: Montpellier’s youthful vibe, great weather and proximity to the French Riveira make it a fantastic destination for backpackers. Nantes is beautiful but it might feel a bit too quiet for the younger traveller.
👵 Over 60’s: Nantes laid-back feel, interesting art scene and beautiful gardens make it the better destination for older travellers.
👨👩👦 Family-Friendly: Both of these cities have plenty of family friendly activities. But Montpellier’s zoo, aquarium and access to the sandy beaches of the Mediterranean probably make it the better destination.
Conclusion: If you’re looking for beaches, a youthful vibe and Mediterranean food, make your way to Montpellier. For a great art scene, maritime history and a more laid-back vibe head to Nantes.
Still undecided? Continue reading for a more in depth guide to both 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.
Nantes, often touted as the most liveable city in Europe, is a delightful fusion of history and innovation, seamlessly intertwining its rich heritage with a progressive mindset. This Atlantic Coast city, once the capital of Brittany, has a vibrant culture marked by the stunning Château des ducs de Bretagne, the whimsical Machines de l’Île, and the lush Jardin des Plantes.
Its dynamic art scene is alive not just in the many museums, but also on the streets with an array of public art. Nantes is also a city of festivals, with music, film, and art celebrations occurring throughout the year. Add to this a blossoming food scene with a fondness for local produce and seafood, and it’s clear why Nantes is a hidden gem just waiting to be discovered.
While we’re comparing Montpellier and Nantes in this post, we’ve also looked at how Montpellier stacks up against other cities like Biarritz, Strasbourg or Paris. We’ve linked to those articles below if you want to take a look!
Pros and Cons of Montpellier and Nantes
- 🏛 Culture: Known for its museums, galleries, and theaters.
- 👩🎓 Student Life: A youthful vibe due to several academic institutions.
- 🍷 Wine: Located in a key wine-producing region.
- 🌳 Green Spaces: Numerous parks and squares.
- 🚊 Public Transport: Efficient tram system.
- 💶 Moderate Cost: Less expensive than Cannes, but not exactly budget-friendly.
- 🏖 Beaches: Accessible but require a short trip.
- 🌃 Nightlife: Energetic but more laid-back and aimed at a student demographic.
- 🌡 Weather: Hot summers may not be for everyone.
- 📸 Tourist Attractions: Less iconic than other French cities.
- 🏰 History: Rich historical heritage with Château des Ducs de Bretagne.
- 🌿 Green Spaces: Features numerous parks like Jardin des Plantes.
- 🎭 Culture: Strong focus on the arts, including regular events and festivals.
- 🌊 River Scenery: Located by the Loire River, offering pleasant views.
- 🚃 Public Transport: Good public transport including a tram system.
- 🌦 Weather: More temperate but can be rainy.
- 💶 Cost: Similar to Montpellier in terms of general living costs.
- 🎉 Nightlife: Offers a variety of options but not as vibrant as some larger cities.
- 🏖 Beaches: Require a bit of travel to reach.
- 🍴 Cuisine: Known for specific regional foods that may not appeal to everyone.
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 Nantes
Deciding how long to stay in Nantes can be a tough call, given the city’s rich history, captivating art scene, and vibrant culture. The duration of your stay primarily depends on your personal interests and how leisurely you wish to explore.
If your goal is to soak up the city’s lively vibe, stroll through the historic city center, and sample some local gastronomy, a stay of 2 to 3 days should be enough. This gives you sufficient time to wander through the cobbled streets of the Bouffay district, take a relaxing walk along the Erdre River, and indulge in regional cuisine at a traditional French restaurant.
However, if you wish to delve deeper into Nantes’ cultural heritage and history, consider extending your visit to 4 to 5 days. This will allow ample time to discover historical sites like the Château des ducs de Bretagne, appreciate modern art installations of the Voyage à Nantes, and visit the Machines of the Isle of Nantes without feeling pressed for time.
For those seeking a more immersive experience, spending a week in Nantes can be an excellent choice. This period will not only provide time to thoroughly explore the city’s attractions but also leave room for relaxing moments in the beautiful Jardin des Plantes, embarking on day trips to nearby gems like the charming vineyards of the Loire Valley, and truly immersing yourself in the vibrant lifestyle of Nantes.
How much is food and drink in Montpellier and Nantes?
|€5 – €7
|€5 – €8
|Glass of Wine (€)
|€4 – €9
|€4 – €10
|€2 – €4
|€2 – €4
|Meal at Midrange Restaurant (€ per person)
|€20 – €40
|€20 – €40
How much is it to stay in Montpellier or Nantes?
|Luxury Hotel (per night)
|€200 – €600
|€150 – €400
|Midrange Hotel (per night)
|€80 – €150
|€70 – €150
|Budget Hotel (per night)
|€50 – €80
|€40 – €70
|Hostel (per night)
|€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.
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 Nantes?
🌼 Spring: In Nantes, the months of April to June bring mild and comfortable weather, with temperatures ranging from 12-20°C (54-68°F). The city starts to burst into color with blossoming flowers, making it a lovely time to explore parks like the Jardin des Plantes. Various outdoor events and festivals start taking place, adding a vibrant touch to your visit.
☀️ Summer: From July to August, temperatures can reach up to 25°C (77°F), offering perfect weather for enjoying the city’s outdoor attractions like the Île de Versailles. Do note, however, that these are the peak tourist months, so expect a bit more crowd and possibly higher prices.
🍁 Autumn: The months of September and October see temperatures around 15-20°C (59-68°F). The city is less crowded during this period, and the fall foliage in parks and along the riverbanks provides a beautiful backdrop for leisurely walks and bike rides.
❄️ Winter: From November to March, temperatures in Nantes can drop to around 5-10°C (41-50°F). While it’s not the ideal time for outdoor activities, it’s a good opportunity to explore Nantes’ museums, like the Château des Ducs de Bretagne, and enjoy indoor events and concerts.
Regardless of when you plan to visit, it’s always a good idea to check the weather forecast closer to your travel dates as conditions can sometimes change.
Average Monthly Temperatures
|Montpellier (High / Low °C)
|Montpellier Rain (days)
|Nantes (High / Low °C)
|Nantes Rain (days)
|11° / 2°
|9° / 3°
|12° / 3°
|10° / 3°
|15° / 5°
|13° / 4°
|18° / 8°
|16° / 6°
|21° / 12°
|19° / 9°
|26° / 15°
|23° / 12°
|29° / 18°
|25° / 14°
|28° / 18°
|25° / 14°
|25° / 14°
|22° / 12°
|20° / 11°
|17° / 9°
|15° / 6°
|13° / 5°
|12° / 3°
|10° / 3°
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 Nantes:
Nantes boasts an efficient and user-friendly public transportation system, which includes trams, buses, and a bike-sharing scheme called Bicloo. The tram network in Nantes is one of the most extensive in France, with three lines covering many key attractions in the city. Your tram ticket will also allow you to hop on and off buses within a set period, typically an hour, which makes getting around the city a breeze.
For those who prefer a more active mode of transport, the Bicloo bike-sharing scheme offers an excellent option. Nantes is known for being a bicycle-friendly city with numerous dedicated cycle lanes and routes, making it easy and safe to navigate.
Walking is another great way to explore Nantes, especially in the compact city center where many of the key sites are located. Plus, you’ll get to enjoy the city’s beautiful architecture and vibrant street life up close.
Taxis and Ubers are readily available in Nantes. However, be aware that in the pedestrianized zones of the city center, you may need to walk a short distance to catch a ride.
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 Nantes
- Château des Ducs de Bretagne: A must-visit landmark in Nantes, this impressive castle is home to the Nantes History Museum. With its beautiful architecture and fascinating exhibits, it offers an insightful look into the city’s past.
- Les Machines de l’île: This unique artistic project is one of the city’s major attractions. Here, you can see gigantic mechanical animals, including the famous Grand Elephant. It’s an unforgettable experience for both kids and adults.
- Passage Pommeraye: An architectural masterpiece, this three-level shopping arcade dating from the 19th century is a great place to shop or simply admire its artistic beauty.
- Jardin des Plantes: This stunning botanical garden is the perfect spot to enjoy a relaxing stroll. It’s home to a variety of exotic plants, beautiful greenhouses, and even a few art installations.
- The Island of Nantes: This creative district located on a former shipyard site is a hub of culture and innovation. It’s home to various creative projects and installations, making it a must-visit for any art and culture lover.
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 Nantes
Day 1: Exploring the Heart of Nantes
Begin your Nantes adventure in the city center. Visit the Château des Ducs de Bretagne, home to the Nantes History Museum. Enjoy exploring the medieval fortress and its surrounding gardens. Afterward, head to the Gothic-style Nantes Cathedral nearby. For lunch, find a local restaurant to sample some regional cuisine.
In the afternoon, enjoy a leisurely stroll along the scenic Loire River. Then, head to the Passage Pommeraye, an elegant shopping arcade from the 19th century. Round off your day with a delicious dinner at one of the city’s gourmet restaurants.
Day 2: Delving into Art and Innovation
Start your second day at Les Machines de l’île, a unique attraction inspired by the works of Jules Verne. Here, you can ride the gigantic Grand Elephant or the Marine Worlds Carousel. Post lunch, explore the creative district on the Island of Nantes, which is home to various artistic projects and installations.
In the evening, take a walk around the Trentemoult district, a former fishing village known for its colorful houses. Enjoy dinner at a riverside restaurant with views of the Loire River.
Day 3: Enjoying Nature and Leisure
Dedicate your last day to Nantes’ beautiful green spaces. Begin with a visit to the Jardin des Plantes, a stunning botanical garden. After a picnic lunch in the park, take a short boat ride to the quaint village of Trentemoult.
In the afternoon, explore the unique vineyards of the Nantes Wine Region or consider a short trip to the Atlantic coast, just a stone’s throw away from the city. End your trip with a farewell dinner in Nantes, reminiscing over your favorite moments from the trip.
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