Montpellier, France: Wine, Food, & Culture – Forbes

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Most people consider Paris to be the epicenter of fine dining and cultural experiences.

Yet Montpellier is quickly gaining traction in this area.

Less than two hours south of Paris by air, Montpellier is the third largest city on the Mediterranean coast after Marseille and Nice.

Focus on Cuisine, Wine, & Culture

In recent years, Montpellier has become a thriving tourist center. Close to the sea, the beach is a major attraction. Montpellier also has many museums, ancient churches, and historic sites.

The high quality of restaurants in Montpellier is a welcome surprise. One reason is the freshness of the produce grown in the sunny agricultural area outside the city center.

Another key factor is the creativity of the new generation of young chefs who are flocking to this Mediterranean city to build their career.   

Montpellier: Gateway to Wine Regions

Wine lovers visiting Montpellier will enjoy the opportunity to discover the wines of the nearby Languedoc-Roussillon region.

The majority of the fine dining restaurants and wine bars try to showcase these local wines. Mostly dry and delicious, they offer tremendous value for the price.

Montpellier Culture

In the 12th century, Montpellier achieved fame as a trading center with links across the Mediterranean. At the same time, Montpellier became a major teaching center for medicine.

Montpellier visitors will be awestruck by the medieval architecture found all over the city, not just in the historic center.

Wining and Dining in Montpellier

France is known for its fine cuisine. Yet few cities offer such diversity of fine dining as Montpellier.

Because of its wealth of castles and other ancient structures, many of the better restaurants are located in exotic environments. 

Dine within these restaurants and behold a magical scene featuring vaulted ceilings, candlelight, and a delicious dining experience impossible to forget.

Most sommeliers are quite conversant in the Languedoc-Roussillon wine. They can help you choose a wine to your liking, and also explain what differentiates one region from the next.

Visiting Wineries Outside of Montpellier

The wine region of the Languedoc-Roussillon is just an hour or two from Montpellier by car, depending on which area you want to visit. Each of these AOC regions are quite diverse in terms of soil and microclimate.

Some of the larger wineries, such as Chateau L’hospitalet in Narbonne, offer Napa Valley style hospitality, including a restaurant and a hotel.

But the majority of wineries in this region are small, family operations. A quick search of the internet will reveal a list of touring companies so you can choose a program that matches your desire. A popular option in the area is Montpellier Wine Tours.

Montpellier: If You Go

Where to Dine

La Diligence

Set in a 13th century structure, this is a very romantic, fine dining restaurant with a vaulted ceiling. In summer, it is possible to dine outdoors.

The chef creates cuisine made to appeal to the eye as well as the palate. Many guests choose to order from the tasting menu, yet an a la carte option is available.

Maison de la Lozère

This restaurant is set within an ancient structure that is a cross between a castle with vaulted ceilings and a cave.

Until recently, it was a purely gastronomic restaurant. But now the owners have divided it into two establishments. In front area is a relaxed bar and café that is referred to as a “tapas bar.” This refers to small bites rather than a single plated meal.

Though it is now called a “bistro,” the more formal dining area has a stunning, castle-like setting, The wine list is one of the best in town.

La Reserve Rimbaud

With a very sleek, white, modern interior, this excellent Michelin-rated restaurant overlooks the river Lez.

Chef Charles Fontes worked in many celebrated Michelin starred restaurants before launching this enterprise. Chef Fontes focuses on traditional French cuisine with very fresh ingredients, with an artistic presentation.

Guests can choose from the multi-course menu or a la carte. The wine list is carefully chosen and also unusual in that the wines are grouped by price, not region.

Wineries To Visit

Chateau de L’Hospitalet (

It is owned by wine producer and former rugby star Gerald Betrand. At this chateau you will be able to taste wines from the tapestry of the wineries Betrand owns throughout the Langoudoc-Roussillon region.

You can also make a day of it by dining after your tour in the “L’art de Vive” restaurant. Chef Laurent Chabert specializes in local, seasonal gourmet cooking.

Where to Stay

Montpellier offers an enormous wealth of hotels to fit every budget. The region is also filled with Airbnb options.

Visitors can choose various parts of the city as their base. Popular options include the Place de la Comédie and the Historic Center. But everything is very central, and public transportation by tram and bus is both fast and easy.

The tourist office can help with recommendations.

Montpellier Luxury Hotels

Domaine de Verchant

This is a five-star hotel in a vineyard environment, slightly outside the city.

Narbonne Wine Country

Chateau l’Hospitalet

Chateau de L’Hospitalet offers 30 rooms, along with a pool, fitness area, and tennis court. You can taste wines from many of the Bertrand wineries in the surrounding appellations.

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