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Montpelhièr (Occitan)
Montpellier Place de la Comedie.jpg
Cathedrale Saint-Pierre de Montpellier (2403792242).jpg
Bassin Jacques Coeur Montpellier (3).jpg
Nouvelle Mairie de Montpellier.jpg
Clockwise from top: The Place de la Comédie, Port Marianne's lake, the bank of the Lez with the Montpellier Town Hall, and the Cathedral of Saint Peter.
Flag of Montpellier.svg
Blason ville fr Montpellier.svg
Location of Montpellier
France location map-Regions and departements-2016.svg
Red pog.svg
Languedoc-Roussillon-Midi-Pyrenees region location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Coordinates: 43°36′43″N3°52′38″E / 43.6119°N 3.8772°E / 43.6119; 3.8772
Country France
Region Occitania
Department Hérault
Arrondissement Montpellier
Canton Montpellier-1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and Montpellier – Castelnau-le-Lez
Intercommunality Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole
  Mayor (20202026) Michaël Delafosse  [ fr ] [1]
56.88 km2 (21.96 sq mi)
310.0 km2 (119.7 sq mi)
2,414 km2 (932 sq mi)
 (2021) [2]
  Rank 7th in France
  Density5,300/km2 (14,000/sq mi)
 (Jan. 2020 [3] )
  Urban density1,500/km2 (3,900/sq mi)
 (Jan. 2020 [4] )
  Metro density340/km2 (870/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Montpelliérain (masculine)
Montpelliéraine (feminine)
Time zone UTC+01:00 (CET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+02:00 (CEST)
INSEE/Postal code
34172 /34000, 34070, 34080, 34090
Elevation7–121 m (23–397 ft)
(avg. 27 m or 89 ft)
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.

Montpellier ( UK: /mɒntˈpɛli/ , US: /ˌmnpɛlˈj/ , French: [mɔ̃pəlje,-pɛl-] ; [5] [6] Occitan : Montpelhièr [mumpeˈʎɛ] ) is a city in southern France near the Mediterranean Sea. One of the largest urban centres in the region of Occitania, Montpellier is the prefecture of the department of Hérault. At the 2020 census, 299,096 people lived in the city proper, [7] while its metropolitan area had a population of 813,272. [4] The inhabitants are called Montpelliérains.


In the Middle Ages, Montpellier was an important city of the Crown of Aragon (and was the birthplace of James I), and then of Majorca, before its sale to France in 1349. Established in 1220, the University of Montpellier is one of the oldest universities in the world and has the oldest medical school still in operation, with notable alumni such as Petrarch, Nostradamus and François Rabelais. Above the medieval city, the ancient citadel of Montpellier is a stronghold built in the seventeenth century by Louis XIII of France.

Since the 1990s, Montpellier has experienced one of the strongest economic and demographic growths in the country.[ citation needed ] Its urban area has experienced the highest population growth in France since the year 2000. Numbering 70,000, students comprise nearly one-fourth of its population, one of the highest such proportions in Europe. [8] Its living environment, with one of Europe's largest pedestrian areas, [9] along with its rich cultural life and Mediterranean climate, explains the enthusiasm for the city, which is nicknamed the "Gifted". Montpellier was nominated for "Best Emerging Culture City of the Year 2017" by the think tank LCD. [10] It is ranked as a Sufficiency city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network.


Montpellier is the third-largest French city near the Mediterranean coast, behind Marseille and Nice. It is the seventh-largest city of France, and is also the fastest-growing city in the country over the past 25 years.[ citation needed ]


Medieval period

Tour de la Babote. Tour de la Babote Montpellier.JPG
Tour de la Babote.

In the Early Middle Ages, the nearby episcopal town of Maguelone was the major settlement in the area but raids by pirates encouraged settlement a little farther inland. In 737 Charles Martel destroyed Maguelone. [11]

Montpellier, first mentioned in a document of 985, was founded under a local feudal dynasty, the Guilhem, who combined two hamlets and built a castle and walls around the united settlement. The name is from medieval Latin mons pisleri, "Woad Mountain" referring to the woad (Latin pastellus, pestellus) used for dyeing locally. There is no real "mountain" in the area, with the mons referring to a pile of stones. [12] In 986 the Lords of Montpellier begin with William I of Montpellier In the 10th century the town consisted of two portions, Montpellier and Montpelliéret. [11] In 1160 the law school was active. [11]

Peyrou water tower Chateau d'eau du Peyrou, Montpellier 06.jpg
Peyrou water tower

The two surviving towers of the city walls, the Tour des Pins and the Tour de la Babotte, were built later, around the year 1200. Montpellier came to prominence in the 12th century—as a trading centre, with trading links across the Mediterranean world, and a rich Jewish cultural life that flourished within traditions of tolerance of Muslims, Jews and Cathars—and later of its Protestants. William VIII of Montpellier gave freedom for all to teach medicine in Montpellier in 1180. The city's faculties of law and medicine were established in 1220 by Cardinal Conrad of Urach, legate of Pope Honorius III; the medical faculty has, over the centuries, been one of the major centres for the teaching of medicine in Europe. This era marked the high point of Montpellier's prominence. The city became a possession of the Kings of Aragon in 1204 by the marriage of Peter II of Aragon with Marie of Montpellier, who was given the city and its dependencies as part of her dowry.

Montpellier gained a charter in 1204 when Peter and Marie confirmed the city's traditional freedoms and granted the city the right to choose twelve governing consuls annually. Under the Kings of Aragon, Montpellier became a very important city, a major economic centre and the primary centre for the spice trade in the Kingdom of France. It was the second or third most important city of France at that time, with some 40,000 inhabitants before the Black Death. Montpellier remained a possession of the crown of Aragon until it passed to James III of Majorca, who sold the city to the French king Philip VI in 1349, to raise funds for his ongoing struggle with Peter IV of Aragon.

From the middle of the 14th century until the French Revolution (1789), Montpellier was part of the province of Languedoc.


In the 14th century, Pope Urban VIII gave Montpellier a new monastery dedicated to Saint Peter, noteworthy for the very unusual porch of its chapel, supported by two high, somewhat rocket-like towers. With its importance steadily increasing, the city finally gained a bishop, who moved from Maguelone in 1536, and the huge monastery chapel became a cathedral. In 1432, Jacques Cœur established himself in the city and it became an important economic centre, until 1481 when Marseilles overshadowed it in this role.

After the Reformation

At the time of the Reformation in the 16th century, many of the inhabitants of Montpellier became Protestants (or Huguenots as they were known in France) and the city became a stronghold of Protestant resistance to the Catholic French crown. In 1622, King Louis XIII besieged the city which surrendered after a two-month siege (Siege of Montpellier), afterwards building the Citadel of Montpellier to secure it. Louis XIV made Montpellier capital of Bas Languedoc, and the town started to embellish itself, by building the Promenade du Peyrou, the Esplanade and a large number of houses in the historic centre. After the French Revolution, the city became the capital of the much smaller Hérault.

Modern history

During the 19th century the city thrived on the wine culture that it was able to produce due to the abundance of sun throughout the year. The wine consumption in France allowed Montpellier's citizens to become very wealthy until in the 1890s the phylloxera induced fungal disease had spread amongst the vineyards and the people were no longer able to grow the grapes needed for wine. [13] After this the city had grown because it welcomed French repatriates from Algeria and other parts of northern Africa after Algeria's independence from France. In the 21st century Montpellier is between France's number seventh and eighth largest city. The city had another influx in population more recently, largely due to the student population, who make up about one-fourth of Montpellier's population. The school of medicine kickstarted the city's thriving university culture, [14] though many other universities have been well established there. The coastal city also benefited in the past 40 years from major construction programs such as Antigone, Port Marianne and Odysseum districts.


The city is situated on hilly ground 10 km (6 mi) inland from the Mediterranean coast, on the river Lez. The name of the city, which was originally Monspessulanus, is said to have stood for mont pelé (the naked hill, because the vegetation was poor), or le mont de la colline (the mount of the hill).

Montpellier is located 170 km (106 mi) from Marseille, 242 km (150 mi) from Toulouse, and 748 km (465 mi) from Paris.

Montpellier's highest point is the Place du Peyrou, at an altitude of 57 m (187 ft). The city is built on two hills, Montpellier and Montpelliéret, thus some of its streets have great differences of altitude. Some of its streets are also very narrow and old, which gives it a more intimate feel.


Montpellier has a Mediterranean climate (Köppen Csa), with cool, damp winters, and hot, rather dry summers. The monthly mean ranges from 7.2 °C (45.0 °F) in January to 24.1 °C (75.4 °F) in July. Precipitation is around 630 millimetres (24.8 in), and is greatest in fall and winter, but not absent in summer, either. Extreme temperatures have ranged from −17.8 °C (−0.04 °F) recorded on 5 February 1963 and up to 43.5 °C (110.3 °F) on 28 June 2019.

Climate data for Montpellier (MPL), elevation: 1 m (3 ft), 1991–2020 normals, extremes 1946–present
Record high °C (°F)21.2
Mean maximum °C (°F)18.0
Mean daily maximum °C (°F)12.0
Daily mean °C (°F)7.6
Mean daily minimum °C (°F)3.3
Mean minimum °C (°F)−3.3
Record low °C (°F)−15.0
Average precipitation mm (inches)56.2
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm)
Average snowy days0.
Average relative humidity (%)75736868706663667277757671
Mean monthly sunshine hours 145.6170.1218.8228.6271.4315.7344.8305.1246.6175.5145.7137.42,705.2
Source 1: Météo France (snow 1981–2010) [15]
Source 2: Infoclimat (humidity 1961–1990, annual extremes 1991–2020) [16] [17]


Since 2001, Montpellier has been divided into seven official neighbourhoods, themselves divided into sub-neighbourhoods. Each of them possesses a neighbourhood council.


The whole metropolitan area had a population of 813,272 at the 2020 census. [4] In a study made by INSEE from 2007 to 2012 Montpellier saw the strongest population growth of France's main communes (+1.1%), ahead of Paris and Lyon. For most of its history, and even today, Montpellier has been known for its significant Spanish population, heritage and influence. Montpellier also houses significant Moroccan, Algerian, and Italian communities.

Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.
1793 32,897    
1800 32,723−0.08%
1806 33,264+0.27%
1821 35,123+0.36%
1831 36,029+0.26%
1836 35,506−0.29%
1841 40,746+2.79%
1846 45,828+2.38%
1851 45,811−0.01%
1856 49,737+1.66%
1861 51,865+0.84%
1866 55,606+1.40%
1872 57,727+0.63%
1876 55,258−1.09%
1881 56,005+0.27%
1886 56,765+0.27%
1891 69,258+4.06%
1896 73,931+1.31%
YearPop.±% p.a.
1901 75,950+0.54%
1906 77,114+0.30%
1911 80,230+0.80%
1921 81,548+0.16%
1926 82,819+0.31%
1931 86,924+0.97%
1936 90,787+0.87%
1946 93,102+0.25%
1954 97,501+0.58%
1962 118,864+2.51%
1968 161,910+5.29%
1975 191,354+2.42%
1982 197,231+0.43%
1990 207,996+0.67%
1999 225,392+0.90%
2007 253,712+1.49%
2012 268,456+1.14%
2017 285,121+1.21%
Source: EHESS [18] and INSEE (1968–2017) [19]
Montpellier seen from Spot satellite Montpellier SPOT 1166.jpg
Montpellier seen from Spot satellite


Arms of Montpellier Blason ville fr Montpellier.svg
Arms of Montpellier
The arms of Montpellier are blazoned:
Azure, a madonna proper, vested gules and azure, sitting on an antique throne Or, holding a Baby Jesus proper vested azure, in chief the uncial letters A and M, and in base on an inescutcheon argent a torteau (gules).

The virgin is "Notre Dame des Tables", named for the money changing tables at the Basilica of Notre-Dame des Tables. The A and M are for "Ave Maria". The inescutcheon is the arms of the Lords of Montpellier (Guilhem).


Place de la Comedie PlaceDeLaComedie.jpg
Place de la Comédie
Porte du Peyrou Gate Montpellier.jpg
Porte du Peyrou
Saint Clement Aqueduct Aqueduc du Peyrou, Montpellier.jpg
Saint Clément Aqueduct
Saint Pierre Cathedral Montpellier Cathedrale.jpg
Saint Pierre Cathedral
Fabre Museum in Montpellier Fabre Museum.jpg
Fabre Museum in Montpellier



The University of Montpellier is one of the oldest in the world, founded in 1160, and having been granted a charter in 1220 by Cardinal Conrad von Urach and confirmed by Pope Nicholas IV in a papal bull of 1289. It was suppressed during the French Revolution but was re-established in 1896.

It is not known exactly at what date the schools of literature were founded which developed into the Montpellier faculty of arts; it may be that they were a direct continuation of the Gallo-Roman schools. The school of law was founded by Placentinus, a doctor from Bologna University, who came to Montpellier in 1160, taught there during two different periods, and died there in 1192. With regard to the school of medicine, there were excellent physicians at Montpellier. The statutes given in 1220 by Cardinal Conrad, legate of Honorius III, which were completed in 1240 by Pierre de Conques, placed this school under the direction of the Bishop of Maguelonne. Pope Nicholas IV issued a Bull in 1289, combining all the schools into a university, which was placed under the direction of the bishop, but which in fact enjoyed a large measure of autonomy.

Theology was at first taught in the convents, in which St. Anthony of Padua, Raymond Lullus, and the Dominican Bernard de la Treille lectured. Two letters of King John prove that a faculty of theology existed at Montpellier independently of the convents, in January 1350. By a Bull of 17 December 1421, Martin V granted canonical institution to this faculty and united it closely with the faculty of law. In the 16th century the faculty of theology disappeared for a time, when Calvinism, in the reign of Henry II of France, held complete possession of the city. It resumed its functions after Louis XIII had reestablished the royal power at Montpellier in 1622; but the rivalries of Dominicans and Jesuits interfered seriously with the prosperity of the faculty, which disappeared at the Revolution. The faculty numbered among its illustrious pupils of law Petrarch, who spent four years at Montpellier, and among its lecturers Guillaume de Nogaret, chancellor to Philip the Fair, Guillaume de Grimoard, afterwards pope under the name of Urban V, and Pedro de Luna, antipope as Benedict XIII. But after the 15th century this faculty fell into decay, as did also the faculty of arts, although for a time, under Henry IV of France, the latter faculty had among its lecturers Casaubon.

The Montpellier school of medicine owed its success to the ruling of the Guilhems, lords of the town, by which any licensed physician might lecture there; there was no fixed limit to the number of teachers, lectures were multiplied, and there was a great wealth of teaching. Rabelais took his medical degrees at Montpellier. It was in this school that the biological theory of vitalism, elaborated by Barthez (1734–1806), had its origin. The French Revolution did not interrupt the existence of the faculty of medicine.

The faculties of science and of letters were re-established in 1810; that of law in 1880. It was on the occasion of the sixth centenary of the university, celebrated in 1889, that the Government of France announced its intention—which has since been realized—of reorganizing the provincial universities in France.


University of Montpellier 1 and University of Montpellier 2 reunified in January 2015 to form the University of Montpellier. Paul Valéry University Montpellier, remains a separate entity. [20]

Moreover, Montpellier was ranked 119th best student city in the world for 2013, according to QS Best Student Cities 2023 ranking. [21]

Grandes Ecoles

Ecole nationale de l'aviation civile ENAC Montpellier.jpg
École nationale de l'aviation civile

Public service schools



Line 1 of the tramway network, at the Corum stop Montpellier Tramway1.jpg
Line 1 of the tramway network, at the Corum stop

Montpellier is served by railway, including TGV highspeed trains. Montpellier's main railway station is Saint-Roch. Since 2018, there is also a station on the high-speed railway linking Nîmes and Montpellier with the LGV Méditerranée, called Montpellier-Sud de France. [22]

Montpellier tramway map Montpellier Tramway Map.png
Montpellier tramway map

The Montpellier – Méditerranée Airport is located in the area of Fréjorgues, in the town of Mauguio, southeast of Montpellier.

The Transports de l'agglomération de Montpellier (TaM) manages the city's public transportation, including its 56-kilometre (35 mi) tramway network consisting of four lines and several parking facilities. [23] Line 1 runs from Mosson in the west to Odysseum in the east. Line 2 runs from Jacou in the northeast to St. Jean-de-Vedas in the southwest. Line 3 and Line 4 opened in April 2012. Line 3, which is 22.4-kilometre (13.9 mi) long, links Juvignac and Pérols with a branch to Lattes and serves 32 stations. Line 4 circles the centre and serves as a connector line between the various arms of tram system. They intersect at Gare St. Roch station, Rives du Lez and Corum.

Since 2019, €440 million were invested into the construction of a 5th tramway line, linking the south from Lavérune to Clapiers, up north. [24]

Since December 21, 2023, the public transport is free for all residents. Previously, all residents under 18 and over 65 years of age have been transported free of charge since September 1, 2021. [25]

The TaM also manages the large bike sharing scheme Vélomagg', started in June 2007, comprising 1200 bicycles and 50 stations. [26] [27]


Stade de la Mosson Australie-Fidji.5.JPG
Stade de la Mosson

Montpellier was the finish of Stage 11 and the departure of Stage 12 in the 2007 Tour de France. It was also the finish of Stage 11 and the departure of Stage 12 in the 2016 edition. The city is home to a variety of professional sports teams:

Montpellier was one of the hosts of the FIBA EuroBasket 2015.

The city is home to the Open Sud de France tennis tournament since 2010, and will host the XXXI World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championship.

The main athletics stadium is the Philippidès Stadium, which is owned by the University of Montpellier.


The city is a centre for cultural events as there are many students. Montpellier has two large concert venues: Le Zenith Sud (7.000 seats) and L'Arena (14.000 seats). Le Corum cultural and conference centre contains three auditoriums.

International relations

Sign on the Esplanade Charles de Gaulle, showing Montpellier's sister cities Montpellier sistercities.jpg
Sign on the Esplanade Charles de Gaulle, showing Montpellier's sister cities

Montpellier is twinned with: [30]

Notable people

Montpellier was the birthplace of:

Other famous inhabitants include:

Other locations named after Montpellier

The name Montpellier is used for towns and streets in as many as four continents. [54] [ unreliable source? ] Many places in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland carry the name Montpellier. Often they are in resort locations claiming some of the healthy attributes for which the French city was renowned in earlier centuries. The variant spelling "Montpelier" is common, and is of quite early provenance. Brewer uses that spelling. The first example was the early 19th-century suburb of Montpelier in Brighton. [55]

The capital of the American state of Vermont was named Montpelier because of the high regard in which the Americans held the French [56] who had aided their Revolutionary War against the British. Several other American cities are also named Montpelier.

Places named Montpellier/Montpelier are also found in Australia, Canada, South Africa, and the Caribbean.

James Madison, the United States fourth president, named his plantation Montpelier (Orange, Virginia), after the resort-like properties associated with the city at the time.

See also

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Montpellier tramway</span> Tramway system serving Montpellier

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  1. "Répertoire national des élus: les maires" (in French)., Plateforme ouverte des données publiques françaises. 13 September 2022.
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  • Lewis, Archibald (1971). The Guillems of Montpellier: A Sociological Appraisal.

Further reading