9 must-sees around Montpellier

bateaux sur le Canal Royal à Sète

Getaway in Occitania: must-see sites around Montpellier. Ready for an epic adventure?

The Montpellier region is full of treasures to explore, less than an hour’s drive away. Imagine picturesque medieval villages, mysterious caves and majestic cathedrals all within easy reach. Whether you’re a history buff, nature lover or outdoor enthusiast, this is the getaway for you. Prepare to be dazzled by the wonders around you and immersed in fascinating tales. Follow our guide to discover the 9 must-see sites around Montpellier.

Dive into history at Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert

vue sur le village médiéval de Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert

Shutterstock – Ldgfr Photos

First, discover Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, one of France’s most beautiful villages, just 40 km from Montpellier. Surrounded by the Gellone Abbey, a masterpiece of Languedoc Romanesque art, this village will plunge you into another time, with its medieval streets and magnificent remains.

In addition to its historic heritage, Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert is also popular with pilgrims on the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route. Take advantage of your visit to explore the many hiking trails that start from this village, allowing you to discover the wonders of the Massif Central.

Discover an underground world in the Clamouse cave

stalactites dans la grotte de Clamouse

Shutterstock – Huang Zheng

Located in the heart of the Gorges de l’Hérault, just a few kilometers from Montpellier, the Grotte de Clamouse is a natural gem not to be missed. Discovered in 1945 by speleologists, the cave is listed by the French Ministry of Ecology for its remarkable underground landscapes.

During your visit, you’ll have the opportunity to entertain family and friends with guided tours, a Spéleopark and Escape Games. Nearby, the famous Pont du Diable (Devil’s Bridge) will also fascinate you with its medieval architecture and intriguing history.

Visit a masterpiece in the heart of nature at Maguelone Cathedral

cathédrale romane de Maguelone

Shutterstock – Joaquin Ossorio Castillo

Then head for the Maguelone peninsula, just 20 km south of Montpellier. Surrounded by vineyards and lagoons, you’ll discover the majestic Maguelone Cathedral. Listed as a historic monument since 1840, it’s a veritable jewel of Romanesque art in the Languedoc region.

Follow in the footsteps of the Popes and immerse yourself in the history of this ancient fortress. Be dazzled by its imposing architecture and its tribune offering a spectacular view of the heart of the cathedral and the nave. And don’t miss the Pilou footbridge, where a breathtaking panoramic view of the surrounding area awaits you.

Stroll between ramparts and marshes in Aigues-Mortes

Salins du Midi et lac Rose près d'Aigues-Mortes

Shutterstock – Pascale Gueret

Step back in time to Aigues-Mortes, a medieval city just 30 km from Montpellier, where every stone tells a story. Its name, which means « dead waters », recalls the marshes and stagnant ponds that surround the fortified town. Stroll along the ramparts, enter artists’ studios or explore the cobbled streets that transport you to another era. Taste the delicious local fougasse, a soft brioche scented with orange blossom.

Aigues-Mortes is also the starting point for exploring the Salins du Midi and the famous Lac Rose. The lake’s astonishing color is the result of natural micro-algae rich in beta-carotene. For a different experience, a 4×4 safari also allows you to discover the horses, bulls and flamingos that populate this beautiful region.

Let yourself be charmed by Sète, the Venice of Languedoc

bateaux sur le Canal Royal à Sète

Shutterstock – Fredp

Nicknamed the « Venice of Languedoc », Sète is a must-see stopover around Montpellier. The town is renowned for its picturesque canals, drawbridges and swing bridges, as well as the colorful facades that add to its Mediterranean charm. For an authentic, picturesque experience, start with a visit to the Pointe Courte, a charming old fishermen’s quarter.

In addition to its traditional fishing port atmosphere, Sète is also known as a veritable cradle of artists, such as Brassens, Valéry and Vilar. Explore the quartier Haut, discover the Saint-Louis church and climb Mont Saint-Clair for breathtaking views. Dive into local gastronomy with tielle and macaronade, and stock up on local produce at the town’s halles. Finally, if you’re lucky enough to visit Sète at the end of August, don’t miss the famous nautical jousting tournament.

Take to the skies at Pic Saint-Loup

face nord du Pic Saint-Loup

Shutterstock – Ldgfr Photos

Just 20 km north of Montpellier, the Pic Saint-Loup awaits you to overlook the plain and the sea, and capture breathtaking sunrises and sunsets. This imposing peak, culminating at 658 metres, offers 360-degree panoramic views of the surrounding area. Two trails lead to the summit: the family-friendly southern trail, which takes around 2 hours round trip from the Cazevieille parking lot over a distance of 6 km, and the steeper northern trail, suitable for climbers.

Pic Saint-Loup is also linked to a medieval legend. Three men, Loup, Guiral and Clair, were all in love with the same woman. Returning from a crusade, they learned of their beloved’s death. Each then chose to live as a hermit on one of the three mountains surrounding the village, thus giving their name to these mountains: Mont Saint-Guiral, Mont Saint-Clair and Pic Saint-Loup. This story bears witness to the rich and fascinating culture of the region between the Cévennes and the Mediterranean.

Create family memories at Lac du Salagou

famille à vélo au lac du Salagou

Shutterstock – Margouillat Photo

Lac du Salagou is a must-see when visiting the South of France. This gigantic 750-hectare lake, the largest in the Hérault region, offers breathtaking panoramic views. Nature lovers can enjoy hiking , mountain biking or horse-riding around the lake, while water sports enthusiasts can try their hand at paddling or pedal-boating. The more adventurous can try their hand at paragliding, admiring the beauty of the landscape from the air.

In addition to its activities, Lac du Salagou also boasts an exceptional geological heritage, with relics dating back over 250 million years, bearing witness to a fascinating history. The impressive colors of the earth and rocks contrast with the crystal-clear waters of the lake, offering a memorable spectacle.

Taste the authenticity of the village of Sauve

village médiéval de Sauve depuis les rives de la rivière Virdourle

Shutterstock – Ldgfr Photos

Labelled a « village of character », Sauve plunges you into a veritable historical immersion, with its medieval streets, 12th-century bridge, fortified gates and period towers. At the heart of the village, don’t miss the 3-pronged fork workshop, a technique handed down since the 7th century, making Sauve a unique cradle of tradition.

Explore the area surrounding the village and be seduced by the spectacular natural site of the Vidourle resurgence. And don’t miss the Mer des Rochers, an extraordinary landscape sculpted by erosion, where rock formations emerge from the dense garrigue.

Escape to the Méjean reserve

lagon naturel du marais de Méjean

Shutterstock – Picturereflex

Accessible by tramway from the center of Montpellier, the preserved natural site of Méjean covers more than 200 hectares. You’ll be fascinated by the lagoon landscape, reminiscent of the Camargue, and by the diversity of flora and fauna typical of coastal wetlands.

The Méjean reserve offers a wide range of trails to discover its natural riches. Whether you choose the « sentier des Frênes » (1 km one way), the « sentier des Platanes » (1 to 3 km one way), the « sentier Grains de Méjean » (2.5 km) or the « sentier des Tamaris » (6 km), you can marvel at the storks’ nests, testimony to the biodiversity of this protected area. A visit to the Méjean nature site promises a unique experience, far from the hustle and bustle of the city, to round off your adventure in Occitanie.

So, are you ready to discover the must-see sites around Montpellier? Share your ideas in the comments and tell us where your next getaway in the Montpellier region will take you?