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What to see in Montpellier

Place de la Comédie

This huge square (18th Century) is the heart if the city. Sometimes known as l'œuf, owing to its egg shapped central roundabout around which traffic once circulated until it was pedestrianised, it is the most lively part of town.
In its centre is the ornately sculpted Fontaine des Trois-Graces, which is the work of Etienne d'Antoine. At one end is the Comédie is the theatre and facing it are two impressive buildings, the 'Crédit du Nord and the 'Grand Hotel du Midi'.

Finding the Place from the train station is simple enough : walk out of the train station and take rue Maguelone which leads to Place de la Comédie.
The tourist office (0467606060) is nearby. Upon reaching the place, turn right and walk past the cafes thzt line the tramline. The tourist office is located behind the right hand corner of the Pavillon de l'Hotel de Ville.

Promenade du Peyrou

Laid out in 1689 by d'Aviler, the Promenade's two tiers of terraces were built at Montpellier's highest point to provide an impressive setting for festivals and a commemorative equestrian statue of Louis XIV.

Erected in 1718, it didn't survive the revolution (no surprise there) and it was replaced by a guillotine. In 1839 the present statue was erected, a smaller version of the original.
In the 1760's work was carried out to bring water to the city by means of the St Clément aquaduct, its architecture heavily influenced by the Roman Pont du Gard.
'Les Arceaux' (236 arches still intact) brought water to the elegant Château d'Eau, a water tower, designed by Giral, with arches, pillars and carved pediments. In front is a sun dial engraved on the ground.
On a cloudless sunny day, of which there are many in this part of the world, you can see the Pic Saint Loup and the foothills of the Cevennes.

Arc de Triumph

This triumphal arch was built in honour of Louis XIV in 1691 by Daviler upon the site of Western city side medieval gate. Medalions depict important events during the king's reign. On the city side, you see the Canal du Midi connecting the Ocean and the Mediterranean and the revocation of the Edict of Nantes which outlawed Protestantism.
The carved medallion on the Peyroe side shows Hercules killing a Lion (England) and frightening away an eagle representing the Austrian empire. The second bas relief refers to the capture of Namur. The Latin inscription, carved in 1715, translates as 'Louis the Great, who ruled as King for 72 years and, in 40 years of war, separated, repressed and reunited peoples, brought peace on land and sea.'

LUDOVICO MAGNO LXXII ANNOS REGNANTE
DISSOCIATIS REPRESSIS CONCILIATIS
CONSURATIS PAX TERRA MARIQUE PARTA 1715

Tour de la Babote

A large medieval corner tower. In occitan, babota means an insect larvae or a silk worm chrysalis. The name is deemed to have unappealing connotations which some people believe is in keeping with the tower's appearance. Was it considered somehow more impregnable and threatening than the others. In 1739 the Société Royale des Sciences constructed an observatory.

Faculté de Médicine

Montpellier's medical school occupies the former monastery of Saint Benoit. Founded in 1220 the school is one of the oldest in the world. Rabelais was a student here in 1530.
There are two museums inside:

The Musée Atger, which displays more than 500 drawings collected by Jean-Français Xavier Atger in the 18th century.The facade of the Faculté de Médicine was rebuilt in the mid 19th century to accommodate the second museum, the Musée d'Anatomie which is currently closed to the public.

Jardin des Plantes

The botanical garden, said to be the oldest in France, was planted in 1593. The reservoir at the southern gate was constructed in early 19th century to distribute water from the Peyrou.

Museums

Montpellier hosts two impressive collections of art. One is the Collection Atger, 2, rue de l'Ecole de Médecine , next to the cathedral inside the Faculté de Medicine. It contains drawings and sketches by Fragonard, Watteau, Donatello and Caravaggio.
Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 1.30 -5.30pm. Free. Closed ilast week in July until last week in August.

The other is the Musée Fabre, which occupies a former Jesuit college, address 39 boulevard Bonne Nouvelle (Esplanade)
Tel :0467148300, This museum displays an impressive collection of works by Courbet, Delacroix, Géricault and 17th century Flemish and Dutch paintings.
Tuesday to Friday : 9am to 5.30 pm; Saturday and Sunday :9.30 am to 5 pm

Musée du Vieux Montpellier, place Pétrarque, contains traditional costumes of the region, local crafts and varios pieces of furniture
Tuesday to Saturday, 9.30 am - 12, 1.30 to 5 pm. Free

Musée Languedocien, rue Jacques-Cœur, exhibits church sculptures from nearby villages and prehistoric objects and classical artifacts from ancient Rome and Egypt.
Monday-Saturday, 2pm-5pm


Antigone

Situated just the other side of the Polygone shopping mall, the new quarter of Montpellier is a neo-classical development of flats, offices, hotels and shops. The project was launced in 1979 and conceived by Catalan architect, Ricardo Bofill.The devlopment follows the philosophy of the city's Maire, George Frêche, who wants the city to develop towards the Lez which was responsible for its expansion in medieval times.