Which city is for you? Bordeaux or Montpellier
For travellers who are currently weighing the options of visiting the elegant city of Bordeaux or exploring the vibrant charm of Montpellier, this blog post should help! By comparing the attractions, cultural scenes, and culinary delights of both Bordeaux and Montpellier, this guide aims to help readers determine which destination best suits their travel preferences.
A small city in southwestern France, Bordeaux is world-renowned for its wine, cuisine and architecture. If you mention Bordeaux to anyone, the first thing they think about is wine. But, there’s more to the city than just wine. It’s a beautiful city that is compact and walkable. We highly recommend visiting. It almost feels like a miniature Paris.
Located in southern France, this city is known for its rich history and vibrant culture. With a beautiful old town, lively nightlife and stunning beaches nearby, this city has got plenty to offer. It’s the perfect destination for those looking for a mix of history, relaxation and culture.
Pro’s and Con’s of Bordeaux and Montpellier
- World-class wine culture.
- Rich history and stunning architecture.
- Vibrant arts scene and diverse culinary experiences.
- Access to nearby UNESCO World Heritage sites, such as Saint-Émilion and the Cité du Vin museum.
- Proximity to picturesque regions like the Dordogne and the Bay of Arcachon.
- More laid-back atmosphere.
- Less emphasis on Mediterranean culture and coastal experiences.
- Cooler weather compared to Montpellier.
Best for: Wine enthusiasts, history buffs, foodies, and those who prefer a laid-back atmosphere and proximity to vineyards and picturesque countryside.
- Vibrant Mediterranean atmosphere.
- Rich history and unique architecture.
- Diverse culinary scene, including seafood and Mediterranean flavors.
- Access to nearby beaches and coastal attractions.
- Lively arts, music, and nightlife scenes.
- Warmer weather compared to Bordeaux.
- University town with a youthful vibe.
- Can be more crowded and hectic compared to Bordeaux.
- Not as well-known for its wine culture.
Best for: Travellers seeking a Mediterranean experience, beach lovers, seafood enthusiasts, and those who enjoy a lively urban atmosphere with a youthful vibe and diverse cultural influences.
How long to stay in Bordeaux
Bordeaux isn’t a big city, but there’s plenty to do. You could get around most of the city in a day if you wanted but you’d miss all the best bits. Bordeaux is a city best enjoyed at a slow pace. Wandering around whilst stopping off at cafes and tourist attractions.
There are plenty of galleries, museums and shops to fill your time. Plus if you’re into your wine, there are all the local vineyards that you can visit. There are also some pretty local towns to visit like Saint-Émilion and Arcachon. We’d recommend staying at least two days in Bordeaux, three days would be better though. We could easily spend a few weeks here, although we’d probably be fat alcoholics by the end of it.
How long to stay in Montpellier
Montpellier is a relatively small city, you could easily see most of the attractions in two to three days. But, if you were planning on a longer break there are plenty of interesting towns and cities nearby. Béziers and Nîmes are just a short drive away and well worth a visit.
How much is food and drink in Bordeaux?
The cost of food and drink in Bordeaux can vary depending on the establishment and the location. Here are some estimated average prices for food and drink in Bordeaux:
Beer: A beer in a typical bar or restaurant in Bordeaux will likely cost between €5 and €7.
Glass of wine: As Bordeaux is a wine region, wine is readily available and is often a better value than beer or cocktails. A glass of wine in a typical bar or restaurant can range from €3 to €10, depending on the quality and rarity of the wine.
Coffee: A cup of coffee in a typical café in Bordeaux will likely cost between €1.50 and €3.
Meal at a midrange restaurant: A meal at a midrange restaurant in Bordeaux will likely cost between €15 and €30 per person, depending on the restaurant and the menu.
How much is food and drink in Montpellier?
Montpellier has a diverse culinary scene, with plenty of affordable options available. Here are some estimated average prices for food and drink in Montpellier:
Beer: A beer in a typical bar or restaurant in Montpellier will likely cost between €5 and €7.
Glass of wine: A glass of wine in a typical bar or restaurant can range from €4 to €9, depending on the quality.
Coffee: A cup of coffee in a typical café in Montpellier will likely cost between €2 and €4.
Meal at a midrange restaurant: A meal at a midrange restaurant in Montpellier will likely cost between €20 and €40 per person, depending on the restaurant and the menu.
How much is it to stay in Bordeaux?
It’s worth noting that prices may be higher in touristy areas.
Luxury hotel: A room in a luxury hotel in Bordeaux can cost anywhere from €200 to €500 per night, or even higher for the most exclusive properties.
Midrange hotel: A room in a midrange hotel in Bordeaux will likely cost between €80 and €150 per night, depending on the location and the amenities.
Budget hotel: A room in a budget hotel in Bordeaux will likely cost between €40 and €70 per night, depending on the location and the quality of the hotel.
Hostel: A bed in a hostel in Bordeaux will likely cost between €20 and €40 per night, depending on the location and the amenities.
How much is it to stay in Montpellier?
The cost of accommodation in Montpellier can vary greatly depending on the time of year and location. Here are some estimated average prices for accommodation in Montpellier:
Luxury hotel: A room in a luxury hotel in Montpellier can cost anywhere from €200 to €600 per night, or even higher for the most exclusive properties.
Midrange hotel: A room in a midrange hotel in Montpellier will likely cost between €80 and €150 per night, depending on the location and the amenities.
Budget hotel: A room in a budget hotel in Montpellier will likely cost between €50 and €80 per night, depending on the location and the quality of the hotel.
Hostel: A bed in a hostel in Montpellier will likely cost between €20 and €40 per night, depending on the location and the amenities.
When is the best time to visit Bordeaux?
Bordeaux has got it all: mild weather, world-class wines, and plenty of festivals and events. Here’s what you need to know:
Weather: The weather in Bordeaux is usually pleasant, with mild temperatures year-round. Summers can get a bit sticky, but winters are mild and rainy. For the best weather, plan your visit during the shoulder season of April to June or September to October.
Wine season: Wine lovers, won’t want to miss the grape harvest season from September to October. The perfect time to indulge in wine tasting and vineyard tours and sample some of the best wines in the world.
Festivals: Bordeaux loves a good party, and there are plenty of festivals and events to keep you entertained. Don’t miss the Bordeaux Wine Festival in June or the Fête le Vin in June, both of which celebrate the region’s rich wine-making culture.
Crowds: The summer months of July and August are peak tourist season in Bordeaux, which means the crowds can be pretty intense. If you prefer a more relaxed visit, consider travelling during the off-season when the crowds have thinned out.
When is the best time to visit Montpellier?
Montpellier is great to visit all year round. But it gets extremely busy during summer, especially in August when many French people are on vacation. Here are a few things to consider before booking:
Weather: Montpellier has a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot summers, you’ll rarely see freezing temperatures here. It can get very hot in summer, so don’t forget your sun cream. Nobody likes getting burnt!
Festivals: Montpellier hosts plenty of festivals throughout the year. Make sure you check the festival calendar before visiting. The Montpellier Danse Festival in June is very popular, along with the Montpellier International Guitar Festival in July. There’s an extreme sports festival helped in May for those who fancy seeing something a little different.
Crowds: Like most destinations, Montpellier gets very busy during the summer months. If you want to avoid the crowds go in spring or autumn. Winter might also be a good option if you’re not too bothered about the weather being colder.
Average Monthly Temperatures
The average monthly temperatures for Bordeaux are:
The average monthly temperatures for Montpellier are:
Getting around Bordeaux:
The city’s public transportation system consists of trams, buses, and a bike-sharing service. The trams are well-connected and cover most of the city’s major attractions. The tickets allow you to use any form of public transport for a certain period of time, (usually an hour). So if you needed to get one bus and a tram to get somewhere you’d only need one ticket if the journey was less than an hour.
Bike sharing is a good option for people that want to be a bit more active. Bordeaux has a lot of small windy streets so we spent most of the time walking, which I feel is the best way to see a city. Taxis and Ubers are readily available but you might struggle to get one right in the heart of the old town where a lot of it is pedestrianised.
Getting around Montpellier:
Being a compact city, Montpellier is very walkable. But for those that prefer to use public transport, the tram system covers most of the city and is very easy to use.
Buses are also a good option, there’s an extensive bus network the covers the entire city that is cheap and easy to use. Tickets are time based so if you needed to get a bus then a tram you could use the same ticket provided it’s within the time limit.
Top things to do in Bordeaux
Visit the Place de la Bourse: This square is an absolute must-see, with stunning architecture and a beautiful reflecting pool called the Water Mirror. Don’t forget your camera!
Explore the historic Saint-Pierre district: This area is so charming, with cobblestone streets, cute cafes, and lots of history. Take a stroll around and enjoy the vibes.
Go wine tasting in the nearby vineyards of Saint-Émilion: If you’re a wine lover, this is the place to be! Saint-Émilion has some of the best vineyards and wineries around, and the views are pretty stunning too.
Visit the Musée d’Aquitaine: Learn more about the region’s history and culture at this museum, which has everything from prehistoric artefacts to contemporary art.
Enjoy a leisurely stroll through the Jardin Public: This park is seriously beautiful, with a lake, a rose garden, and tons of trees and flowers. It’s the perfect place to unwind and relax.
Take a river cruise on the Garonne River: You’ll see all sorts of amazing architecture and landmarks, and the views are seriously good.
Visit the Basilique Saint-Michel: This church is up on a hill, so the views are even better! Take some snaps, enjoy the scenery and soak up the atmosphere.
Enjoy some of Bordeaux’s local cuisine: Bordeaux has got some seriously tasty food, including sweet pastries called canelés and a delicious steak dish called entrecôte bordelaise.
Go to one of Bordeaux’s many festivals and events: This city loves to party, so there’s always something going on. Don’t miss the Bordeaux Wine Festival in June or the Fête le Vin in June.
Take a day trip to the nearby town of Arcachon: This seaside town is seriously gorgeous, with sand dunes and beaches that will take your breath away. It’s an easy train ride from Bordeaux, so don’t miss out!
Top things to do in Montpellier
Jardin des Plantes de Montpellier: Established in 1593, the Jardin des Plantes de Montpellier is one of the oldest botanical gardens in Europe! It feels like a quiet oasis in the heart of the city. There’s a huge amount of plants, flowers and trees to see here.
Le Corum: Le Corum is a large convention centre in Montpellier that hosts concerts and exhibitions throughout the year. The architecture is really impressive, and definitely worth looking at even if you don’t go to see a show.
Place de la Comédie: Known as the egg for its shape, Place de la Comédie is Montpellier’s biggest square. It’s always full of life and a great place to sit down with a coffee and people-watch.
Musée Fabre: The Musée Fabre is an art gallery that houses an extensive collection of paintings and sculptures. With works from artists such as Rubens, Delacroix and Courbet, it’s a must-visit for art lovers.
Château de Flaugergues: Located just outside of Montpellier, this 18th-century château is surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. The château and its grounds are beautiful and look like something you’d see in a film. There are tours and wine-tasting sessions available.
Antigone District: This modern neighbourhood on the banks of the the Lez river is known for its unique architecture. Built in the 1980s, it’s a great place for a relaxing walk.
Cathedral Saint-Pierre: This imposing cathedral was built in the 15th century, and is definitely worth a visit. The stained glass windows and rocket-like pillars at the front are particularly cool!
Promenade du Peyrou: This beautiful park offers amazing views of the city. It’s got its own Arc De Triomphe and a huge statue of Louis XIV in the centre.
Maison de la nature: Translated to the house of nature, these protected wetlands make a great day out. It is completely free to visit and offers a break from the hustle and bustle of the city. There’s stunning scenery to look at and plenty of local wildlife.
How to spend three days in Bordeaux
To begin your day, head to the Place de la Bourse and the Water Mirror reflecting pool. Take some time to check out the beautiful architecture and take some pictures. If you want a really special experience, try and get up early to visit during the sunrise. It’s so worth it! After that, visit the Musée d’Aquitaine to explore the history and culture of the region. The museum has a fascinating collection of artefacts and exhibits. End your day with a dinner in the Saint-Pierre district, it’s probably the prettiest area in Bordeaux. There are plenty of good restaurants to choose from, make sure you sit outside if the weather is good too!
Spend your morning taking a day trip to the nearby town of Saint-Émilion, famous for its vineyards and wine. It’s only 35 minutes by train. Go for a wine tasting in one of the local vineyards then get a lovely French lunch at a local restaurant.
In the afternoon, return to Bordeaux and take a river cruise on the Garonne River. There’s something about river cruises that we love, the water is so relaxing and it’s a good way to see a city from a different perspective. For dinner visit Les Halles Bacalan, a market hall full of food vendors and bars. There’s so much food to try and wines to drink! After dinner, take a walk along the Quai des Chartrons to enjoy the views of the river and the city lights.
Start your day with a visit to the Jardin Public, one of the most beautiful parks in Bordeaux. It’s a great place to relax and people-watch. In the afternoon, head to the Basilique Saint-Michel to enjoy the stunning views of the city. There are loads of cool shops close by if you fancy looking around too. Finally, attend one of Bordeaux’s many festivals and events in the evening, such as the Bordeaux Wine Festival or Fête le Vin. If none of them are on, why not visit Musée du Vin et du Négoce de Bordeaux. This museum takes you through the history of winemaking in the region and even has wine-tasting sessions! It’s well worth a visit.
How to spend three days in Montpellier
Morning: Start the trip off with a visit to the Jardin des Plantes de Montpellier, one of the oldest botanical gardens in Europe. Wander through its beautiful gardens admiring the thousands of different plants.
Afternoon: After getting some lovely food at a local restaurant for lunch, head to the Antigone District for a relaxing afternoon seeing the modern architecture. Stop off at a cafe overlooking the river Lez for a quick coffee or glass of wine.
Evening: Head to Le Corum, a large convention centre that hosts concerts and exhibitions throughout the year. Double-check to see if there are any shows on beforehand. There might be something good to watch! If not, go and look at the architecture, it’s very impressive.
Morning: Start your day by exploring the historic centre of Montpellier. Wander through the narrow streets and alleyways, stopping off for a coffee at a Place de la Comédie. Head over to the Saint-Pierre Cathedral and enjoy its impressive architecture.
Afternoon: Visit the Musée Fabre, this art museum has a vast collection of art from the 15th-18th centuries. Bound to keep any art lover occupied all afternoon.
Evening: Head to Château de Flaugergues for a tour of the mansion and its grounds. Maybe even book a wine-tasting session for afterwards.
Morning: Have an early start and head to Maison de la Nature, these protected wetlands and just outside of the city and offer amazing scenery. A great way to unwind on your last day.
Afternoon: Located on the outskirts of Montpellier, Montpellier Zoo is home to over 120 species of animals. There’s plenty to see and do, it’s actually free to get in which is different to most zoos which cost a fortune.
Evening: Head over to the Promenade du Peyrou, this park has fantastic views over the city and is definitely worth a visit. There are plenty of opportunities for great photos with the Arc De Triomphe, gardens and the statue of Louis XIV. It’s especially beautiful as the sun is going down.
Food and drink: 9
Culture and history: 9
Total score: 61
Food and drink: 9
Culture and history: 7
Total score: 60