Gerry Patterson has this guide to cycling in Montpellier in the Languedoc-Roussillon region in the south of France
Montpellier is the capital of the region of Languedoc-Roussillon and France’s 8th largest city (265,000 people at the moment). It's an incredibly vibrant and young town, with a very large university population. There always seems to be a festival going on in Montpellier, so anytime you visit you will never be short of things to do.
The city is ‘young’ in another manner as well. Unlike the other major towns in the region, such as Nîmes, Montpellier does not have any Roman (or earlier) origins. It started life as a trading center in the early Middle Ages and quickly grew in importance, in great part due to its university (one of the oldest in the world). There are few visible remains from these early days, but the university is alive and well.
The city's attractions include the mostly-rebuilt Saint Pierre Cathedral, the excellent Musée Fabre, and Place de la Comédie, the beautiful, wide-open main square of the city. All the main sites of the city are contained within, or just outside, the historic center, which is nearly all pedestrian.
Check here for links to accommodation in France, including hotels, gîtes, gîtes d’étapes, B&Bs, self-catered and campsite options.
For general tourist advice, see Lonely Planet's guide to Languedoc-Roussillon.
Cycling around Montpellier
Montpellier is certainly the bike-friendly queen of Languedoc-Roussillon, with 158km of cycling paths/lanes at the moment and another 100km on the way. Montpellier is the fastest growing city in France and every new neighborhood that springs up has an extensive network for cyclists and pedestrians. There is a map of existing bike paths/lanes online (click on ‘plan des pistes cyclables’).
Through Vélomagg (in French), the public bike hire scheme run by the transportation authority, there are currently 2,000 bicycles available from 50 stations around town. The scheme is dirt cheap and very efficient. You can also rent bikes at several offices around town – ask at the tourism office on Place de la Comédie.
There are a few bike shops scattered around the outskirts of Montpellier, but luckily the best of them all (for touring at least) is right downtown; On Avance also has a team of English speakers. For bike rental in Montpellier, see our listings page.
Outside of town the beaches of the Mediterranean are only a 10km ride away (all on bike paths!) and in 5km or less you can be riding through the vines. There are a number of bike paths on the outskirts of Montpellier.
Gerry Patterson lives in Nîmes with his wife, Shoko. When not updating his cycling blog and adding routes to his cycling website, he can be seen – you guessed it – cycling around Languedoc-Roussillon, searching out new and interesting rides.