Even if you enjoy splurging on occasion to get the most out of your holiday, don't be afraid to try a few free or low-budget activities. There are a lot of possibilities to choose from in Montpellier: whether you're looking for culture, trips in the great outdoors, architectural discoveries or natural wonders, there is always something to see or do at an affordable price, either in the heart of the city or the surrounding areas. Whether you're visiting on your own, with your family or with friends, those few precious moments of companionship and freedom, completely unencumbered by money, are all yours. Free or inexpensive activities are, in fact, an opportunity to share your passion with your nearest and dearest, to introduce the children to art and to rediscover life's simple pleasures. In other words, to forget the frustrations tied up with our consumer society. And that right there is the sign of a successful holiday!

    1

    The City Card

    A pocket full of discounts

    • Families
    • Budget
    • History

    A passport to discovery, the City Card gives free entry and great discounts to make discovering Montpellier cheaper. You can get cards that will last 24, 48 or 72 hours. Cardholders benefit from free public transport throughout the Montpellier area, a free visit of their choice from the Tourist Office, an audioguide (subject to a deposit) and free access to the Amazon Greenhouse and Lunaret Zoological Park, the Old Montpellier Museum, etc.

    What's more, the card entitles you to discounts of 10% to 50% in a host of tourist locations. The City Card is by far your best investment to discover every nook and cranny of the 'gifted' city.

    2

    Jardin des Plantes de Montpellier

    Introduction to botany in a beautiful setting.

    • Families
    • Budget
    • Couples
    • Photo

    The Jardin des Plantes de Montpellier (the Botanic Gardens) are free to enter and form an integral part of the city's Faculty of Medicine. From the bamboo grove to the English garden and the magnificent Martins greenhouse, come and discover a multitude of plants to awaken all your senses.

    To help you explore this 5-hectare space in greater depth, the staff have created several themed tours. They focus on the plant collections of the Botanic Gardens, the history of the site, its remarkable trees, the succulents and the École de Systématique with its busts. Booking via the online form is essential.

    Location: Boulevard Henri IV, 34000 Montpellier, France

    Open: Hours vary by season (closed on Mondays)

    Phone: +33(0)4 34 43 36 20

    Map

    photo by Alexander Baranov (CC BY 2.0) modified

    3

    Carré Sainte-Anne

    Discover contemporary art in a historical setting

    • Budget
    • Couples
    • History
    • Photo
    • Unusual

    Easily recognisable by its magnificent bell tower, the Carré Sainte-Anne is a neo-gothic church turned exhibition space. Built in the 19th century and deconsecrated in the 1980s, it was transformed into an unusual exhibition space dedicated to contemporary art.

    Since 2011, the exhibitions – accessible free of charge – have featured renowned artists like Desgrandchamps, Garouste, Pagès, Di Rosa, Ocampo, Combas and Gérard Othoniel. Guided tours are offered to groups and individual visitors. To discover the treasures of this sublime 600-sq-m showcase, accessible to people with reduced mobility, use the Comédie tram stop.

    Location: 2 Rue Philippy, 34000 Montpellier, France

    Open: Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday from 8.30 am to 5.30 pm, Thursday from 10 am to 7 pm

    Phone: +33 (0)4 67 60 82 11

    Map

    photo by Wolfgang Staudt (CC BY 2.0) modified

    4

    Les Arceaux

    A charming game of pétanque in a magnificent setting

    • Families
    • Budget
    • Couples
    • History
    • Photo

    The Saint-Clément Aqueduct, reminiscent of the famous Pont du Gard, was built in the 18th century to supply the city with water. It used to cover the 14 km from the Saint-Clément spring to the water tower in the promenade du Peyrou. For about 800 metres, with its double row of arches, it overlooks the aptly named Quartier des Arceaux.

    This is an excellent place to taste the joy of Montpellier life. Try your hand at pétanque or wander around the market at the foot of the aqueduct on Tuesday and Saturday mornings. The players aim for the jack until late in the evening, to the delight of walkers and the customers of the bars and restaurants in the area where you can find cured meats and wines from the Languedoc.

    Map

    photo by Henri MOREAU (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    5

    Montpellier's grand houses

    An architectural and historical walk in the heart of the city

    • Families
    • Budget
    • Couples
    • History
    • Photo

    There are some 80 grand mansions in Montpellier, scattered throughout the well-to-do districts as well as bringing character to historic neighbourhoods. Some are private and can only be partially seen behind their gates or the parkland greenery around them. Others you can visit.

    Whether it's the Hôtel de Fizes, the Isle Eustache or the Hôtel de Cambacère, each one is unique and stands with its heavy door hiding a pretty inner courtyard, a vertiginous staircase, sculptures and wrought iron ornaments. The extremely rich architecture with its blend of genres, lets these private mansions tell not only their own history, but also that of the town where you are staying.

    photo by Patrick Nouhailler's… (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    6

    Musée Atger

    A superb collection of art from the oldest museum in Montpellier

    • Budget
    • Couples
    • History
    • Photo

    The Musée Atger is the oldest museum in Montpellier, based on the first floor of the Faculty of Medicine's historical buildings. It's named after the generous collector who chose this place to allow students to access art and consequently sharpen their powers of observation – an important skill for the profession.

    Today, everyone has free access to this impressive collection of drawings from the Flemish, Italian, Dutch, German and French schools of art, including works by Fragonard, Natoire, Giambattista Tiepolo, Jordaens and Rubens. French audio guides are available. By tram, get off at the Albert Ier stop.

    Location: 2 Rue de l'École de Médecine, 34000 Montpellier, France

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 1.30 pm to 5.45 pm (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +33 (0)4 34 43 35 80

    Map

    photo by Demeester (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    7

    River Lez waterfall

    A lovely place to walk to and a corner of paradise for swimming

    • Families
    • Budget
    • Couples
    • Photo

    The romantic little waterfall of the River Lez is a haven of peace. When temperatures rise, there's nowhere like this enchanting, shady spot to read a book, share a picnic or swim while admiring the kayakers' skills in the rather complex waters.

    This idyllic spot is located on the course of the Lez, the river running through Montpellier with its source in Saint-Clément-de-Rivière and its mouth in Palavas-les-Flots. The river also provides over 14 km of places to relax and to swim, to the delight of families. The small waterfall is not far from the Aiguelongue district, a stone's throw from the Faculty of Arts.

    Map

    photo by Sebjarod (CC BY-SA 2.5) modified

    8

    Montpellier Zoological Park

    A breath of fresh air in the company of animals

    • Families
    • Budget
    • Photo

    The Parc du Lunaret is Montpellier's zoo and, unusually, entry is free, as is access to the Lez nature reserve and the Montmaur woods. Only entry to the Amazonian greenhouse has a cost, but the prices charged here are still very reasonable. The zoo is home to some 120 animal species: insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, fish and mammals.

    The 20 hectares of the nature reserve are lined with hiking trails and will charm you with their wide diversity of landscape. Activities, educational workshops or tools to discover the Parc du Lunaret independently: everything is available to give you a great time within nature.

    Location: 50 Avenue Agropolis, 34090 Montpellier, France

    Phone: +33 (0)4 67 54 45 23

    Map

    photo by yves Tennevin (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    9

    Beaches at Petit and Grand Travers

    A couple of superb sandy beaches for sunbathing

    • Families
    • Budget
    • Couples
    • Photo

    Linking Carnon to La Grande-Motte, the Petit Travers beach is the closest beach to Montpellier. Easily accessible by car with numerous car parks, it's also accessible by public transport on tram line 3. Once there, take advantage of this relatively natural and unspoilt stretch of sand, that also offers wild swimming.

    A little further on, Grand Travers beach welcomes you. Separated from the étang d’Or by a string of sand dunes, it reveals beautiful natural landscapes along its 3 km of fine sand. Trendier than its sister, it's home to clubs, restaurants and nightclubs to brighten up your evenings after a day at the beach.

    Map
    10

    FRAC Occitanie Montpellier

    1,445 works of contemporary art to discover in the heart of Montpellier

    • Budget
    • History
    • Photo

    The FRAC Occitanie Montpellier is a public collection of some 1,445 works of contemporary art. It illustrates the diversity of the issues at stake in artistic creation from the 1960s to the present day. No less than 470 artists are represented here, whether big names or promising young visual artists. All mediums are included: painting, installation, video, drawing, photography and sculpture.

    Entry to this temple of contemporary art is free and the collection is accessible to people with reduced mobility. If you are travelling by car, use the nearby Gambetta and des Arceaux car parks. By tram, get off at the Plan Cabanes station on line 3. By bus, take line 11 to the Gambetta stop.

    Location: 4-6 Rue Rambaud, 34000 Montpellier, France

    Open: Tuesday–Saturday from 2 pm to 6 pm (closed on Mondays and Sundays)

    Phone: +33 (0)4 11 93 11 60

    Map

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    Attractions and experiences recommended in our guides may be affected. Please check local guidance before you travel.

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