Situated in the South of France, Montpellier is one of the most interesting and vibrant cities that France has to offer. As well as plenty of things to do within the city limits themselves, Montpellier also offers itself as a great base from which to explore the wider Occitanie region thanks to its numerous accommodation options to suit every budget. Here’s your ultimate guide to the best day trips from Montpellier.
A little off the beaten path and less frequented by tourists than some other towns in the area which was formerly classed as ‘Languedoc Roussillon,’ Béziers is a town with over two millennia worth of history and plenty of things to see and do.
Once in the Southern French city, highlights include seeing the fortified Béziers Cathedral and the Pont Vieux, which dates back to the 13th-century and offers one of the best views of the city above. Nearby, the Fonserannes Locks are eight steeped canal locks which are UNESCO world heritage listed.
Montpellier to Béziers: If you want to take a day trip from Montpellier to see Béziers (after all, the main highlights of the city can be enjoyed over the course of a day), then the easiest way to get from city to city is by train, which is fast and affordable. The train journey takes approximately an hour, depending on which train time you select.
Hands down, one of the most magical towns to visit in the South of France, if not all of l’Hexagone, is that of Narbonne, a former Roman port city turned picturesque off the beaten path sleepy town. Though the city of Narbonne was once situated alongside the sea, two millennia worth of sand and silt build up means that the city is now situated several miles away from the shores of the sea.
When you arrive in Narbonne, the train station is around a fifteen minute walk from the town centre, which is ever-so-small and can be enjoyed on foot. Some of the top highlights of Narbonne include a traditional covered food market, plenty of Roman ruins, and climbing the Donjon Gilles Aycelin, which offers one of the best views in the entirety of the city.
Montpellier to Narbonne: If you wish to enjoy all that Narbonne has to offer, then I recommend staying overnight. However, if you’re short on time, then a day trip will suffice. The train journey from Montpellier to Narbonne will transport you along the beautiful coastline and through vineyards.
Easily one of the most beautiful train rides in France, the journey from city to city takes around an hour and ten minutes, meaning that it’s not too much of a commute! Please note that Narbonne should not be confused with Narbonne plage, which is situated by the massif (limestone cliff) of Montagne de la Clape.
As one of the largest cities in France (second only to Paris), it’s clear that Marseille has no shortage of things to see and do. Though the reputation of Marseille (sometimes written as ‘Marseilles’ in English) has had somewhat of a bad reputation, several renovation projects over the past two decades have done plenty to change the Southern French City’s image.
Once in Marseille, some of the more popular attractions include the old Port of Marseille (whose many restaurants serve up sea-inspired dishes), climbing up to the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde (which offers unparalleled views of the city), and hiking out to the Calanques de Cassis.
Montpellier to Marseille: I would personally not do a day trip between the two cities considering that they’re quite far apart and are each best seen over the course of several days. As well as that, there are, of course, plenty of amazing places closer to Montpellier! With this being said, if you opt for a fast no-change train, then you can make it between the two cities within under two hours each way.
A mountain in the vicinity of Montpellier which is famed for its wine and olive oil production, Pic Saint-Loup is one of the most beautiful natural destinations in the former Languedoc Rousillon region. Home to secluded chapels and a myriad of hiking trails, not to mention wine tasting opportunities, you can’t go wrong by dedicating a long and lazy afternoon to discovering some of the activities on offer.
Montpellier to Pic Saint Loup: There is little to no public transportation which will take you to Pic Saint Loup from Montpellier and so the best course of action if you want the most freedom to decide your schedule is to rent a car. Check here for the best car rental comparisons.
Alternatively, you can also book a guided tour of the region with an experienced guide and small group. For example, this half day tour includes a wine tasting at a local vineyard and lasts for two and a half hours. Alternatively, if you want to venture out from the hustle and bustle of the city for a longer stretch of time, then this day tour includes a farm to table meal and a visit to two wineries.