Toulouse or Montpellier? Which city should you visit?
Considering a trip to France and debating between Toulouse or Montpellier? Here’s a snapshot to help guide your thoughts:
- History Buffs: While Montpellier prides itself on medieval quarters, Toulouse’s “La Ville Rose” charm and storied past give it an edge.
- Beach Lovers: Montpellier, being closer to the coast, takes the cake for beachgoers.
Foodies: Decide between Toulouse’s classic French cuisine and Montpellier’s fresh Mediterranean dishes.
- Nature Enthusiasts: Choose between the scenic grandeur of the Pyrenees, only an hour from Toulouse and Montpellier’s pristine Camargue reserve.
- Urban Explorers: Montpellier’s youthful spirit? Or the balanced fusion of old and new in Toulouse?
- Adventure Junkies: Mountain adventures beckon near Toulouse, while Montpellier lures with its beachside activities.
- Wine Lovers: Toulouse is a gateway to Southwest’s wine regions, but Montpellier sits proudly amidst the sprawling vineyards of Languedoc-Roussillon.
- Backpackers: Both cities cater to backpackers, but each with its unique vibe—Toulouse’s traditions versus Montpellier’s lively energy.
- Over 60’s: For a calm, enriching experience, Toulouse shines. However, Montpellier offers a tapestry of adventures and leisurely experiences tailored for the mature traveller.
Curious for More? Dive deeper into our blog to uncover the hidden gems, local secrets, and experiences each city offers. By the end, you’ll have everything you need to know to make your choice.
Toulouse, a city perfectly perched between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, offers an intriguing mix of history, innovation, and charm. Its historic centre, known as Vieux Toulouse, boasts a tapestry of coral-hued buildings that have earned it the moniker ‘La Ville Rose’, or ‘The Pink City’. But Toulouse is not just about reminiscing about the past. It’s a dynamic city teeming with academic vigour, courtesy of its vibrant student population, and is a hotbed for aeronautics and space exploration. With an array of museums, a thriving arts scene, and lively local markets, this city caters to a broad spectrum of travellers. Plus, the local cuisine, characterized by hearty Southwestern French specialities, is a gastronomic adventure in itself. If you’re seeking a unique and vibrant destination for your next vacation, Toulouse should unquestionably be on your radar!
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 Toulouse and Montpellier in this post, we’ve also looked at how Toulouse stacks up against other cities like Strasbourg, Lille and Nantes. We’ve linked to those articles below if you want to take a look!
Pros and Cons of Toulouse and Montpellier
- 🏦 Architecture: The streets of Toulouse, affectionately known as “La Ville Rose”, beckon with their pink terracotta buildings, offering a picturesque backdrop for every stroll.
- 🚀 Aerospace: As Europe’s aerospace capital, Toulouse offers riveting journeys into the cosmos, perfect for space aficionados.
- 🎓 Education: The city shines as an academic centre, fostering a vibrant student life and numerous institutions of higher education.
- 🍽 Cuisine: Toulouse brings to the table delectable dishes like cassoulet and its famed sausages. Foodies will love it!
- 🌦 Weather: Summers can turn quite warm, while winters bring in a chill. The seasons present a mixed bag of weather conditions.
- 🚗 Traffic: Navigating through Toulouse during peak hours? Brace for congestion and crowded streets.
- 🏖 No Beach: Sun, sand, and sea lovers might feel a pinch as Toulouse sits inland, away from coastal vibes.
- 🌴 Mediterranean Charm: Montpellier, with its graceful squares and Mediterranean ambience, is a true visual delight.
- 🏛 Rich History: Dotted with historical sites and museums, the city is a haven for history enthusiasts.
- 🌳 Green Spaces: With places like the Promenade du Peyrou, Montpellier provides ample spots for relaxation and nature walks.
- 🍇 Wine Culture: Being in the Languedoc region, the city is an ideal spot for wine aficionados, offering numerous vineyard tours.
- 🚗 Parking: Finding a parking spot in the city centre can be a tad challenging.
- 🌦 Humidity: Thanks to its coastal proximity, summers can be more humid compared to their inland counterparts.
- 📈 Cost of Living: While offering a plethora of amenities, Montpellier’s cost of living can be slightly higher for some essentials.
Which City Has Better Food? Toulouse or Montpellier?
The answer to this question all depends on what you prefer. Meat or fish? If you prefer meat I’d say that Toulouse has a slight edge, especially for those who lean toward hearty, traditional food. The city boasts iconic dishes like cassoulet, the must-try bean and meat stew, and the Toulouse sausage, which you’ll find all over the city. The markets here are incredible and full of fresh produce and regional specialities.
On the other hand, if you prefer fish. Montpellier, with its coastal location, serves up plenty of incredible seafood dishes. Plus, with a mix of traditional Mediterranean and North African culinary influences, the local cuisine is incredibly diverse. Make sure to try la Tielle Sétoise, the spicy squid and octopus pie. It’s seriously good,
Which City is Better For Couples? Toulouse or Montpellier?
If you and your partners like beautiful architecture and history, Toulouse is a must-visit. The city is full of romantic spots like the Garonne River and the square at Place du Capitole. The streets around Place du Capitole are full of great bars and restaurants. The food here is so good and there’s a nice atmosphere that feels a bit more lively than most French cities. There is plenty to do for couples, whatever you’re into. Whether it be looking at the sights, learning about space at Cité de l’Espace or even going canoeing down the Garonne River.
Montpellier has a bit more of a laid-back feel than Toulouse. If you want a relaxing holiday in the sun but aren’t bothered about spending every day at the beach, this might be the city for you. The beach is close enough to visit, but it’s not right next to the city. There’s plenty of history and culture here too and the squares are amazing. Especially Place de la Comédie, we could sit there all day eating, drinking and watching the world go by.
Toulouse might appeal to those who cherish historical architecture and want a riverside experience, while Montpellier could be the choice for those leaning towards a mix of beach, arts, and a chilled-out urban centre.
Which City is Better For Families? Toulouse or Montpellier?
Toulouse is a great city for families that love to learn! Its most famous museum is Cité de l’Espace, an interactive museum about all things space! It’s very cool and great for kids and adults alike. Continuing the aerospace theme, there’s also Aeroscopia where you can see famous aircraft from all over the world. They have even got a Concorde in which you can go inside and take photos. If aerospace isn’t your thing, the Muséum de Toulouse is definitely worth a visit! Don’t forget about the Canal du Midi either, it’s a great place to relax with a picnic.
Now, Montpellier, this city is perfect for families who love both the city and the sea. Just a short bus ride away, and you’re on the Mediterranean coast. There are beautiful beaches here and a nature reserve that is definitely worth a visit. Back in the city, there’s the Montpellier Zoo, which, like all zoo’s will be a hit with the kids. The Place de la Comédie, right in the heart of Montpellier, is surrounded by cafes where you can grab an ice cream or a crepe. Most of the centre is pedestrianised too so you don’t need to worry about traffic.
Which City is Safer? Toulouse or Montpellier?
Toulouse scores 50.62 in their crime index which is classed as moderate. With a high level of property crime like vandalism and theft. There are areas in the North of the city that should be avoided. But, generally, most of the tourist areas are considered safe.
Montpellier fares slightly worse, with a crime score of 61.87. As with any city, a lot of this crime is petty crime like theft and pickpocketing. More serious crimes tend to happen slightly outside the city centre where tourists don’t venture. We felt safe here, but we spent all of our time in the city centre. Just make sure you keep an eye on your belongings and don’t go wandering around alone at night
How long to stay in Toulouse
Figuring out how long to stay in Toulouse? That’s a great question and depends on what kind of trip you’re planning. If you’re popping by for a quick visit, I’d say two to three days should suffice. This will give you enough time to visit the main sights, such as the iconic Capitole de Toulouse, the Basilica of Saint-Sernin, and the Toulouse Museum of Natural History.
But if you’re anything like me and love to delve a little deeper, immersing yourself in the local culture and lifestyle, you might want to consider staying a little longer – perhaps around five to seven days. This will allow you to explore at a leisurely pace, have time to appreciate the city’s vibrant arts scene, meander through the charming neighbourhoods, and even try out some of the local bistros and cafes. Trust me, the cassoulet is to die for!
Toulouse is also a great base to explore the surrounding region. If you plan on taking day trips to places like Carcassonne or Albi, then a week or even ten days would be a good estimate.
In the end, remember this – travel isn’t a race. It’s about the experiences, the people, the food, the culture, and the memories you make. So, take your time in Toulouse and enjoy what the ‘Pink City’ has to offer!
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? Toulouse or Montpellier?
Toulouse definitely offers value for your money. The city’s beautiful streets cost nothing to explore. Wander through the historic Capitole de Toulouse or take a stroll along the Garonne River without spending a penny. The local markets, like the Marché Victor Hugo, provide affordable, fresh local delicacies.
The restaurant scene is diverse too, with plenty of budget options. Plus there are plenty of free and affordable attractions like Basilique Saint-Sernin de Toulouse, Couvent des Jacobins, Jardin des Plantes and Jardin Japonais Pierre Baudis.
On the other hand, Montpellier, with its Mediterranean vibes, offers numerous parks and squares where you can relax, like the Place de la Comédie. The beach is only a short trip away too, you can get the bus which doesn’t cost much and maybe even take a picnic if you don’t want to spend any more whilst you’re there.
Access to the Fabre Museum is free when you purchase a 24h, 48h, 72h City Card, so make sure you make the most of it. The Parc Zoologique de Montpellier is completely free too! The food scene is good here, with a good range of budget-friendly restaurants.
How much is food and drink in Toulouse and Montpellier?
|Glass of Wine (€)
|Meal at Midrange Restaurant (€)
|€5 – €7
|€3 – €10
|€1.50 – €3
|€15 – €30
|€5 – €7
|€4 – €9
|€2 – €4
|€20 – €40
Please note that these prices are estimates and can vary based on the establishment, location, and other factors.
How much is it to stay in Toulouse or Montpellier?
|Luxury Hotel (€/night)
|Midrange Hotel (€/night)
|Budget Hotel (€/night)
|€150 – €500
|€70 – €150
|€40 – €70
|€20 – €40
|€200 – €600
|€80 – €150
|€50 – €80
|€20 – €40
Please remember that these prices are approximate and can vary based on factors like the time of year, location, and the specific hotel or hostel.
When is the best time to visit Toulouse?
Picking the best time to explore Toulouse is a big part of your planning. Known for its temperate climate, Toulouse can be great to visit throughout the year, each season bringing its own charm and unique experiences.
Spring (March to May) in Toulouse is a beautiful season, the trees will be blossoming and the temperature won’t be too high. This time is ideal for sightseeing and soaking in Toulouse’s distinct architectural beauty, particularly the Capitole and Saint-Sernin Basilica. Spring is also the start of the outdoor festival season, adding an extra dash of liveliness to your visit.
Summers (June to August) in Toulouse are warm and vibrant. This is a great time to indulge in outdoor activities, such as a leisurely stroll along the Garonne River or a picnic in the lush Japanese Garden. Summer evenings in Toulouse are particularly charming with open-air concerts and night markets for you to explore.
Autumn (September to November) brings a beautiful colour palette to Toulouse, with the tree-lined avenues transitioning to shades of gold and red. The weather remains pleasant for outdoor exploration. In addition, the cultural calendar is full, making it a perfect time for art and music lovers to visit the city.
Winter (December to February) in Toulouse is typically cool and sometimes rainy.. With fewer tourists around, you can explore the city’s impressive museums and galleries at your own pace. Don’t miss the Toulouse Christmas Market for a dash of festive spirit and warm, comforting treats.
Weather: Toulouse has a fairly temperate climate, making it suitable for visits year-round. Summers can get a tad warm, but winters are generally mild. For the most pleasant weather, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons of April to June or September to October. These periods provide a good balance of excellent weather and manageable tourist crowds.
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
|Toulouse Temperature (High/Low)
|Montpellier Temperature (High/Low)
|Toulouse Rainy Days
|Montpellier Rainy Days
|10° / 2°
|11° / 2°
|11° / 3°
|12° / 3°
|14° / 5°
|15° / 5°
|17° / 7°
|18° / 8°
|21° / 11°
|21° / 12°
|25° / 14°
|26° / 15°
|28° / 16°
|29° / 18°
|28° / 16°
|28° / 18°
|25° / 13°
|25° / 14°
|20° / 10°
|20° / 11°
|13° / 5°
|15° / 6°
|10° / 3°
|12° / 3°
Getting around Toulouse
Toulouse is very easy to get around, with regular buses, trams and a metro system there are plenty of options. The public transport system is clean and well-maintained. You’ll find it easy to get around the city when using it. The Toulouse city pass is well worth getting if you plan on using public transport a lot. If you want a more active holiday, the city is very walkable. You could even hire a bike if you wanted to get around a bit quicker. As with any city, taxis and Uber are readily available.
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 Toulouse
Capitole de Toulouse: This stunning city hall and opera house is an iconic sight in Toulouse. Its grand façade and beautiful square are absolute must-sees when in the city.
Cité de l’espace: A unique experience for space enthusiasts, Cité de l’espace offers fascinating insights into the universe and space exploration. You can see life-sized rockets, try astronaut activities, and even observe the skies in the planetarium.
Basilique Saint-Sernin: This UNESCO World Heritage site is the largest remaining Romanesque building in Europe. Its stunning architecture and rich history make it a highlight of any visit to Toulouse.
Rue d’Alsace-Lorraine: As a main shopping street in Toulouse, Rue d’Alsace-Lorraine offers a vibrant mix of shops, boutiques, and cafés. It’s a great place to soak up the city’s lively atmosphere.
Banks of the Garonne: Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the picturesque Garonne River. The riverside is beautifully developed and offers spectacular views of Toulouse’s historic buildings and bridges. Consider a river cruise for a different perspective of the city.
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 Toulouse
Day 1: Explore the Vibrant City Center
Kick off your Toulouse adventure in the bustling city centre. Start your day at the Capitole de Toulouse, a magnificent city hall that also houses an opera house. Be sure to take memorable photos of its grand façade. Stroll down Rue d’Alsace-Lorraine for some retail therapy and grab lunch at one of the many inviting cafés. In the afternoon, visit the Basilique Saint-Sernin, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and marvel at its Romanesque architecture. Conclude your day with a delightful dinner in the lively Saint-Georges district, a hotspot for local gastronomy.
Day 2: Immerse Yourself in Science and Space
Begin your second day at the Cité de l’espace, Toulouse’s famous space city. Dive into the world of space exploration and get a closer look at rockets, satellites, and more. Post lunch, head to the Musée des Augustins to admire a rich collection of fine arts from the Middle Ages to the early 20th century. Later in the afternoon, visit the modern art museum, Les Abattoirs. Round off the day with a relaxing dinner in the Carmes district, renowned for its chic bars and restaurants.
Day 3: Venture Beyond the City
On your last day, consider exploring the surroundings of Toulouse. Take a half-day trip to the medieval city of Carcassonne, where you can explore the old town, fortified city walls, and its fairytale-like castle. Back in Toulouse, spend the rest of your afternoon strolling along the banks of the Garonne River, or relax in the expansive Prairie des Filtres park for a leisurely end to your trip.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org