24 Hours In: Montpellier
Sunday 18 March 2007
Wake up in the Belle Epoque
08.30: Fling open the windows of your room at the New Hotel du Midi and look out on Place de la Comédie.
The first coffee of the day
09.30: Any of the café terraces on the Place de la Comédie are a great place to enjoy a grand crème and a croissant while people-watching.
Visit the new art gallery
10.30: Cross the square, picking up a map at the Office de Tourisme and browsing the market stalls, to reach the Musée Fabre (00 33 4 67 14 83 28; montpellier-agglo.com). Stroll through galleries of Classical and Romantic paintings before looking at Soulages's "black light" in the new wing.
Time for an al fresco lunch
13.00: Head up any of the steep streets behind the museum into the Old Town. Place St-Ravy with its pretty fountain is an ideal place for lunch: La Place (00 33 4 67 66 22 86) serves an array of fish dishes and grills with mountains of salad. Or grab a quick bite from La Pita Grecque or Le Natur'l soup shop on Rue de la Vieille behind. For a taste of local specialities, La Maison de la Lozère (00 33 4 67 66 46 36; celliermorel.com), 27 Rue de l'Aiguillerie, offers a €26 or €36 lunch menu in its palm-filled garden.
Shopping and sightseeing
15.00: Continue your wander around the Old Town, visiting Place St-Roch with its trompe l'oeil mural and pilgrims' church, and peeking into some of the hôtels particuliers. (A list is found on the tourist office map.) Shop for clothes, jewellery and objets d'art on Rue de l'Aiguillerie, Rue de l'Ancien Courrier and around Place de la Canourgue.
Take a break with a view
16.30: Take a break at the Comptoir de l'Arc (00 33 4 67 60 30 79), overlooking Place de la Canourgue.
Stroll in the gardens
17.00: After gaping at the impressive twin towers abutting Saint-Pierre cathedral at the Faculté de Médecine, cross Boulevard Henri IV to enter the Jardin des Plantes. Created in 1593 for the medical faculty, they are among the oldest in Europe.
Have a green journey
18.30: Get on the tram on Boulevard Pasteur and take it to Antigone (direction Odysséum), to look round the new quarter.
Make time for an apéritif
19.30: If the fountain on Place du Nombre d'Or is playing you might like to stop here. Otherwise, drop by the terraces of Place de la Comédie again.
Fine dining in style
21.00: Reserve a table if you want to sample the high art of the Pourcel brothers' cuisine at Le Jardin des Sens (00 33 4 99 58 38 38; jardindessens.com), 11 Avenue Saint Lazare - about €130 (£90) per person without wine. In the Old Town Le Petit Jardin (00 33 4 67 60 78 78; petit-jardin.com), 20 rue JJ Rousseau, serves reasonably priced seasonal fare. The cosy Vieux Four (00 33 4 67 60 55 95; levieuxfour .fr), 59 Rue de l'Aiguillerie, cooks meat on an open fire.
A late bite or drinks
22.30: The Pourcel brothers also own a lounge bar and brasserie, La Compagnie des Comptoirs (00 33 4 99 58 39 29), at 51 Avenue de Nîmes. For the Old Town's lively bar scene head for Place Jean-Jaurès, whose terraces are always packed with a young crowd.
Dance the night away
00.30: Follow the crowds to Le Fizz (21) (00 33 4 67 66 22 89; lefizz.com), 4 rue Cauzit.
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