Paris or Montpellier – Which city should you visit?
Deciding between Paris or Montpellier for your next trip to France? Each city boasts its own unique charm and attractions, making this a tough choice for many travellers. Paris, the timeless capital, is famous for its iconic landmarks and romantic ambience.
Montpellier, on the other hand, offers a laid-back Mediterranean vibe and a rich blend of historical and modern attractions. Let’s delve deeper into what each city has to offer to help you make the right choice for your next French adventure.
Paris, it’s so much more than just a city; it’s a world in itself. Imagine this – you’re sitting in a sidewalk café, sipping your coffee as you watch the world stroll by. You can almost hear the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and Notre Dame whispering stories of love, art, and history.
And trust me, the charm of Paris extends far beyond these famous landmarks. Each neighbourhood, or ‘arrondissement’ as locals call it, is like a mini-city with its own personality. You could be hunting for vintage treasures in the bustling flea markets of Saint-Ouen one moment, and enjoying a peaceful picnic in the quiet parks of Montmartre the next.
Foodies, prepare to fall in love because Paris takes its food very, very seriously. Think fresh baguettes from local ‘boulangeries’, pastries that are too pretty to eat, and restaurants that turn every meal into a feast for the senses.
And let’s not even get started on the art. With a legacy that stretches from Da Vinci to Dali, Paris is a playground for art enthusiasts. Whether it’s classical masterpieces or edgy contemporary works, this city has it all.
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.
While we’re comparing Paris and Montpellier in this post, we’ve also looked at how Paris stacks up against other cities like Biarritz and Toulouse. We’ve linked to those articles below if you want to take a look!
Pros and Cons of Paris and Montpellier
- ✈️ Easy Access: Being a major international hub, Paris is well-served by many airlines from all over the world, making it easy to get to.
- 🗼 Iconic Landmarks: Paris is home to world-renowned landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, and Notre Dame Cathedral.
- 🏛 Rich History: The city’s long and fascinating history can be seen in its architecture, museums, and historic districts.
- 🧀 Gastronomic Capital: Paris offers a world-class dining scene, famous for its bakeries, cheese shops, and fine dining restaurants.
- 💶 Expensive: Paris is known for its high cost of living, which extends to dining, accommodations, and attractions.
- 🤵♂️ Crowded: As one of the most visited cities in the world, Paris can often be crowded, especially around popular tourist sites.
- 💨 Pollution: As a large city, Paris can have issues with air and noise pollution.
- ☀️ Mediterranean Climate: Montpellier enjoys a pleasant Mediterranean climate with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers.
- 🍾 Dynamic City Life: The city is known for its vibrant atmosphere, fueled by a large student population.
- 🏛 Cultural Blend: Montpellier’s mix of medieval architecture and modern districts provides a unique cultural experience.
- 🌳 Proximity to Nature: With its close location to the beach and the mountains, it’s perfect for those who love outdoor activities.
- ✈️ Accessibility: With fewer international flights compared to Paris, getting to Montpellier might be more challenging for some travellers.
- 🧳 Less Tourist Infrastructure: Montpellier is not as tourist-oriented as Paris, which could mean fewer amenities and attractions for tourists.
- 🏰 Fewer Iconic Landmarks: Compared to Paris, Montpellier has fewer internationally recognized landmarks.
Which City Has Better Food? Paris or Montpellier?
French cuisine is renowned worldwide, and both Paris and Montpellier have their unique gastronomic delights.
Paris is often considered the one of food capitals of the world. The city offers everything from Michelin-starred restaurants serving haute cuisine to small bakeries crafting the perfect baguette. Here you can sample a wide range of French classics like coq au vin, escargot, and crème brûlée. The city is also known for its vibrant cafe culture, perfect for a quick coffee and a pastry.
Montpellier, in the heart of the Languedoc-Roussillon region, offers a more Mediterranean style of French cuisine. The city is particularly known for fresh seafood dishes, locally produced wines, and the regional speciality, cassoulet, a hearty dish made with white beans and meat. Montpellier’s food markets are a treat to explore, brimming with local cheeses, olives, and fresh produce.
Food lovers will not be disappointed in either city. Your choice might come down to whether you prefer the sophisticated and diverse food scene of Paris or the regional, Mediterranean flavours that Montpellier excels in.
Which City is Better For Couples? Paris or Montpellier?
Both Paris and Montpellier have their unique romantic charm, making them great choices for couples.
Paris, often known as ‘The City of Love’, is famous for being one of the most romantic cities in the world. It offers intimate bistros, stunning views from spots like Montmartre or the Eiffel Tower, and boat rides along the Seine. From strolling through beautiful gardens, exploring world-class museums, or simply sitting in a charming café, couples will find a wealth of romantic experiences in Paris.
Montpellier, with its relaxed Mediterranean vibe, also presents a romantic setting. Its Old Town, or ‘l’Ecusson’, is a picturesque maze of narrow medieval streets, perfect for leisurely strolls. The Place de la Comédie, the city’s main square, is a wonderful spot for couples to watch the world go by. Plus, with Montpellier’s proximity to the Mediterranean Sea, couples can enjoy a romantic day at the beach.
In the end, the decision may come down to your personal preference. If you are drawn to iconic sights and bustling city life, Paris might be your choice. But if you prefer a slower pace with a touch of Mediterranean charm, Montpellier could be your ideal romantic getaway.
Which City is Better For Families? Paris or Montpellier?
When it comes to family-friendly destinations, both Paris and Montpellier offer excellent amenities and attractions, but each has its unique charm.
Paris is a fantastic city for families, boasting world-class museums like the Louvre and the Natural History Museum that offer engaging exhibits for children. Parks like Jardin du Luxembourg and Parc de la Villette have playgrounds and carousels, perfect for a family picnic. Plus, a trip to Disneyland Paris is always an amazing experience for kids and adults alike.
Montpellier, on the other hand, offers a blend of city and nature experiences. The city’s historic centre, with its pedestrian-only streets, is great for family strolls. The Montpellier Zoo, which offers free entry, and the Seaquarium, are sure to keep the kids entertained. Plus, Montpellier’s proximity to the beach means families can enjoy a variety of water activities.
Both cities offer a mix of educational and fun activities for families. Your choice might depend on whether you prefer the vibrant urban experience of Paris or the calmer, nature-infused environment of Montpellier.
Which City is Better For Partying? Paris or Montpellier?
Whether you’re looking for chic cocktail bars, buzzing nightclubs, or lively music scenes, both Paris and Montpellier offer vibrant nightlife.
Paris, being a global city, provides an exciting and diverse party scene. From fashionable bars in the Marais district to the high-energy nightclubs along the Champs-Élysées, the city has something for everyone. For live music, neighbourhoods like Montmartre and Belleville host an array of venues, presenting everything from jazz to rock.
Montpellier, though smaller, packs a punch when it comes to partying. As a university city, Montpellier has a youthful energy that infuses its nightlife. The city centre is teeming with bars and clubs, particularly around Place Jean Jaurès. If you love live music, the famous Rockstore Club is a must-visit. Additionally, with its warm Mediterranean climate, Montpellier’s outdoor nightlife, including beach parties, can be a unique experience.
So, your choice depends on your preference. If you want sophisticated and bustling nightlife with a wide array of choices, Paris might be the city for you. If you prefer a youthful, dynamic atmosphere with a Mediterranean flair, Montpellier would be a great choice.
Which City is Safer? Paris or Montpellier?
Paris, as a large, bustling city, can have areas where tourists need to be cautious, especially against pickpocketing and petty theft, particularly in crowded areas or on public transport. However, with basic precautions, tourists can safely enjoy everything the city has to offer.
Montpellier, while smaller, is also considered safe for tourists. The city centre and major tourist areas are well-patrolled and secure. As always, maintaining awareness of your surroundings and possessions helps ensure a safe visit.
It’s essential, regardless of the city, to follow any local advisories, respect local customs, and stay aware of your surroundings. Always check for the most recent information, as situations can change.
How long to stay in Paris
Paris is an expansive city, not just in terms of geographical size but also in its cultural, historical, and artistic breadth. It is often said that every street corner in Paris tells a story, every neighbourhood exudes a unique vibe, and every building holds a piece of history. This multitude of offerings can make the city feel vast and overwhelming to the first-time visitor.
If you’re hoping to fully experience the city’s iconic landmarks – from the Eiffel Tower to the Louvre, from the Champs-Élysées to Montmartre – you will need a few days just to scratch the surface. Each of these sights isn’t merely a quick photo opportunity, but rather they each offer a deep dive into the city’s history, architecture, and way of life.
Furthermore, Paris is a city of neighbourhoods, each with its own distinct character. Exploring these diverse areas, such as the bohemian Latin Quarter, the bustling Marais, or the trendy Canal Saint-Martin, can easily fill several days.
And let’s not forget the world-class museums and galleries that dot the city. Art lovers could spend an entire week in Paris and still not see everything the city has to offer in this regard. The Louvre alone, the world’s largest art museum, can take a full day to explore – and that’s if you’re moving quickly.
Paris is also renowned for its culinary scene, and foodies will want to allow plenty of time to explore the city’s bistros, patisseries, markets, and wine bars.
Given all this, a trip of 3 to 5 days allows for a good overview of Paris, but to truly appreciate all that the City of Light has to offer, a stay of a week or longer allows you to explore at a more leisurely pace, delve deeper into the areas that interest you most, and even make a few day trips to the surrounding regions. Remember, Paris is a city that rewards those who take the time to wander its streets and absorb its charm.
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.
Which City is More Budget-Friendly? Paris or Montpellier?
When comparing the cost of living and travelling in Paris and Montpellier, you’ll generally find that Montpellier is the more budget-friendly option.
Paris, being one of the world’s most visited cities and a major global hub, tends to be on the pricier side. Accommodation, dining, and even general expenses like transportation can add up quickly, especially in the city centre or near major tourist attractions.
On the other hand, Montpellier is often less expensive. The cost of accommodations and meals tends to be lower on average than in Paris. Plus, with many of its attractions centrally located and within walking distance, you can save on transportation costs.
So, if budget is a significant factor in your decision-making, Montpellier might be the better choice for you. But remember, with some planning and savvy choices, it’s still possible to experience Paris on a budget.
How much is food and drink in Paris and Montpellier?
|€5 to €8
|€5 to €7
|Glass of wine
|€5 to €15
|€4 to €9
|€2 to €4
|€2 to €4
|€25 to €50
|€20 to €40
How much is it to stay in Paris or Montpellier?
|€300 to €800 (or higher) per night
|€200 to €600 (or higher) per night
|€100 to €200 per night
|€80 to €150 per night
|€50 to €100 per night
|€50 to €80 per night
|€20 to €40 per night
|€20 to €40 per night
When is the best time to visit Paris?
Deciding when to visit Paris can make all the difference in your experience, from crowd sizes to weather conditions. Paris enjoys a temperate climate that allows for relatively comfortable conditions throughout the year, though each season offers its own charm.
From March to May, Paris experiences Spring – a season known for its blooming beauty and refreshing temperatures. As trees and flowers throughout the city burst into bloom, the City of Love turns into a picturesque wonderland. This is also a perfect time for open-air picnics in parks like the Champ de Mars or the Tuileries Garden.
June through August mark the summer season in Paris, offering long, sunny days and a lively atmosphere. This is the peak tourist season when you can enjoy alfresco dining, boat cruises on the Seine, and the famous Fête de la Musique, a city-wide celebration of music. Just be prepared for the crowds at major tourist sites!
Autumn graces Paris from September to November with mild weather and beautiful changing foliage in city parks. It’s also a fantastic time to experience the cultural life of Paris, with plenty of exhibitions, concerts, and theatre performances going on. The grape harvest in nearby wine regions, like Champagne and Burgundy, might be of interest to wine lovers!
December through February, winter in Paris is marked by chilly temperatures and festive cheer. Tourist crowds thin out significantly during this time, making it easier to explore the city’s landmarks. Don’t miss out on charming Christmas markets and the city’s grand holiday decorations. If you don’t mind the cold, winter in Paris can be quite magical.
Weather: Paris has a relatively mild climate. Summers can get warm, but not usually excessively hot, while winters are chilly but rarely below freezing. For the most comfortable weather, consider visiting in the shoulder seasons of Spring and early Autumn.
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.
Average Monthly Temperatures
|Paris High / Low (°C)
|Paris Rainy Days
|Montpellier High / Low (°C)
|Montpellier Rainy Days
|8° / 3°
|11° / 2°
|9° / 3°
|12° / 3°
|13° / 5°
|15° / 5°
|17° / 8°
|18° / 8°
|20° / 11°
|21° / 12°
|24° / 14°
|26° / 15°
|26° / 16°
|29° / 18°
|25° / 16°
|28° / 18°
|22° / 13°
|25° / 14°
|17° / 10°
|20° / 11°
|11° / 6°
|15° / 6°
|8° / 4°
|12° / 3°
Please note that these are average temperatures and rainfall data, and actual weather conditions can vary. The number of rainy days is also provided for each month.
Getting around Paris:
Paris boasts an extensive public transportation network that includes the Métro (subway), buses, trams, and a bike-sharing service called Vélib’. The Métro is particularly convenient as it connects all major tourist attractions and extends well into the suburbs. It’s fast, efficient, and a great way to avoid the city’s notorious traffic congestion.
The buses and trams are also reliable options to get around Paris, offering the added benefit of sightseeing as you travel. The tickets you purchase are valid across buses, trams, and the Métro for a certain period of time, typically an hour and a half. This means you could take a bus and a metro ride on a single ticket as long as your journey falls within the valid period.
For those looking to add a bit of exercise to their exploration, the Vélib’ bike-sharing scheme is a fun option. Paris is becoming increasingly bike-friendly, with many dedicated cycle lanes across the city.
Walking is also a fantastic way to explore Paris. Many of the city’s iconic landmarks are conveniently close together, and strolling along the Seine River or through charming neighbourhoods like Montmartre and Le Marais is a pleasure in itself.
Taxis and ride-sharing services like Uber are also widely available throughout Paris. However, in high-traffic areas and pedestrian-only zones, they might not be the most efficient choice. Do keep in mind that Parisian traffic can be heavy, particularly during rush hour.”
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.
Top things to do in Paris
- Eiffel Tower: No trip to Paris is complete without a visit to this iconic landmark. For an unforgettable experience, take the elevator up to the viewing deck for panoramic views of the city, or enjoy a picnic in the park below.
- Louvre Museum: Home to the Mona Lisa and countless other art treasures, the Louvre is one of the world’s most famous museums. Be sure to explore its grand architecture, including the striking glass pyramid at the entrance.
- Montmartre: This historic and artistic neighbourhood is a must-visit. Climb the steps to the stunning Sacré-Cœur Basilica for a fantastic view of Paris, and wander the cobblestone streets to discover charming cafés, boutiques, and the bustling Place du Tertre, where artists sell their work.
- Champs-Élysées and Arc de Triomphe: Stroll down the world’s most famous avenue, lined with shops, theatres, and cafés. At the end, you’ll find the Arc de Triomphe, another iconic Parisian monument, offering beautiful city views from its top.
- Notre Dame Cathedral: Although currently under reconstruction after the fire in 2019, Notre Dame’s grandeur can still be admired from the outside. It’s also a great starting point for a leisurely walk along the banks of the Seine River, which are lined with bookstalls, artists, and charming views.
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 centre.
- 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 centre, 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.
How to spend three days in Paris
Day 1: The Heart of Paris
Begin your Paris adventure in the heart of the city. Start your morning with a visit to the iconic Eiffel Tower. Take the elevator up for an amazing view of the city, or simply admire it from the ground. From there, make your way to the Musée d’Orsay, which boasts an extensive collection of Impressionist masterpieces. After lunch, head to the Notre Dame Cathedral. Even though it’s currently under reconstruction, its facade is still worth seeing. Walk along the banks of the Seine River to the famous Louvre Museum, and spend the rest of your afternoon exploring its vast collections. Finish your day with a delicious dinner in the Latin Quarter, a vibrant area known for its bustling bistros and cafés.
Day 2: Arts and Bohemian Flair
Start your second day in Montmartre, the historic arts district known for its bohemian past. Visit the Sacré-Cœur Basilica and enjoy a panoramic view of Paris from its steps. Explore the area’s charming streets, and check out the Place du Tertre, where local artists sell their work. For lunch, grab a crepe from one of the street vendors. In the afternoon, head to the Centre Pompidou, a modern art museum with a unique architectural design. End your day in the Marais district, where you can enjoy dinner and explore the area’s diverse boutiques and galleries.
Day 3: Chic and Glamour
Begin your final day on the famous Champs-Élysées. Start at the Place de la Concorde and make your way up the avenue, window shopping and enjoy a coffee at a streetside café. At the end, you’ll find the impressive Arc de Triomphe. Afterwards, take a metro to the stylish Saint-Germain-des-Prés district, where you can enjoy a relaxed lunch and explore its chic boutiques. Spend your afternoon at the Musée Rodin to admire the sculptor’s masterpieces, including The Thinker. As the sun begins to set, take a scenic cruise on the Seine River, a perfect and romantic end to your three days in Paris. Enjoy your final dinner at one of the cosy bistros along the river.
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 centre. 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 favourite moments.
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