Which city is for you? Montpellier or Cannes
Trying to decide between the cities of Montpellier or Cannes for your next French holiday? Both offer plenty to do, embodying the charm and sophistication that France is renowned for, yet each boasts its own distinct character and attractions.
On one side, you have Montpellier, a beautiful city nestled between the Mediterranean Sea and the Cévennes mountains. Known for its vibrant arts scene and historic districts. Montpellier offers an exciting blend of traditional and contemporary France.
On the other side, there’s Cannes, a glamorous resort town that needs little introduction. Famous for its international film festival and blue waters, Cannes represents the glitz and glamour of the French Riviera. With its palm-lined boulevards, upscale boutiques, and Michelin-starred restaurants, Cannes offers a taste of the high life in a stunning seaside setting.
In this blog post, we’ll delve into both of these amazing destinations. From getting around, the cost of accommodation and what there is to do, we’ll help you decide whether it will be Montpellier or Cannes that is right for your next trip!
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.
Located on the world-famous Côte d’Azur, Cannes is known for its yearly film festival. But there’s so much more to this city than just the red carpet. Beautiful beaches, luxury shopping and delicious food all await. If you like the finer things in life, Cannes is the place for you.
Pros and Cons of Montpellier and Cannes
- Diverse Activities: Montpellier offers a wider range of activities, from visiting historical sites and museums to enjoying outdoor activities in nearby natural settings.
- Less Crowded: Compared to Cannes, especially during the film festival, Montpellier is less touristy and crowded.
- Affordable: Montpellier is more affordable in terms of accommodation, dining, and entertainment compared to the more glamorous Cannes.
- Food and Wine: Located in the Languedoc-Roussillon region, known for its wine production, Montpellier offers excellent culinary experiences, especially for wine lovers.
- Proximity to Nature: With easy access to both the Mediterranean Sea and the Cevennes mountains, it’s ideal for outdoor enthusiasts.
- Less Glamorous: Montpellier lacks the international fame and glamour associated with Cannes and its film festival.
- Fewer Luxury Options: If you are looking for high-end luxury hotels or Michelin-starred restaurants, Cannes might be a better choice.
- Inland City: Although Montpellier is very close to the sea, it’s not a beachside city like Cannes
Best for: Travellers seeking a more relaxed, diverse, and affordable experience.
- Glamour and Prestige: Cannes offers a taste of the high life, especially during the Cannes Film Festival.
- Beautiful Beaches: Cannes boasts stunning beaches and a beautiful Mediterranean coastline that is more accessible than in Montpellier.
- Luxury: Cannes offers more luxury accommodations, dining, and shopping options compared to Montpellier.
- Proximity to Other Riviera Towns: Cannes is a great base for exploring other Riviera towns like Nice, Antibes, and St. Tropez.
- Expensive: Cannes is generally more expensive than Montpellier, particularly during peak tourist season or the film festival.
- Crowded: Cannes can get quite crowded, especially during the Cannes Film Festival, which may not be to everyone’s liking.
- Less Cultural Diversity: While Cannes has a rich history, it doesn’t have the same diversity of cultural influences that Montpellier offers.
Best for: Beach lovers, film enthusiasts, luxury shoppers, and those looking to explore the French Riviera.
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 long to stay in Cannes
Cannes isn’t a big city, so you could comfortably see most of the main attractions in two to three days. But, there are plenty of tourist hot spots nearby like Saint-Tropez and Nice to visit if you want a longer break. You could even do a road along the French Riviera!
How much is food and drink in Montpellier and Cannes?
Here’s a table summarizing food and drink prices in Montpellier and Cannes:
|Beer||€5 to €7||€6 to €8|
|Glass of wine||€4 to €9||€5 to €12|
|Coffee||€2 to €4||€2 to €4|
|Meal (midrange)||€20 to €40 per person||€25 to €50 per person|
How much is it to stay in Montpellier?
Here’s a table summarizing the information on food and drink prices in Montpellier and Cannes:
|Beer||€5 to €7||€6 to €8|
|Glass of wine||€4 to €9||€5 to €12|
|Coffee||€2 to €4||€2 to €4|
|Meal (midrange)||€20 to €40 per person||€25 to €50 per person|
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.
When is the best time to visit Cannes?
Cannes is great to visit all year round. But it gets extremely busy during summer and the Cannes Film Festival. Here are a few things to consider before booking:
Weather: Cannes has a beautiful Mediterranean climate. So mild winters and hot summers, you’ll rarely see freezing temperatures here, even in winter. It can get very hot in summer, so don’t forget your sun cream!
Festivals: Cannes is world famous for its film festival. But there, are other festivals like the Cannes Dance Festival held in December and the Cannes Yachting Festival in September.
Crowds: Cannes experiences high levels of crowds, especially during peak tourist seasons and events like the Cannes Film Festival. The city attracts visitors from around the world, resulting in bustling streets and busy beaches. If you want to avoid the crowds, consider visiting outside of major events or during the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn. Winter can also be a less crowded time to explore Cannes, although it might be a bit chilly!
Average Monthly Temperatures in Montpellier and Cannes
|Month||Montpellier Temperature (°C)||Montpellier Rainfall (mm)||Cannes Temperature (°C)||Cannes Rainfall (mm)|
|January||8°C||46 mm||9°C||73 mm|
|February||9°C||32 mm||9°C||51 mm|
|March||11°C||32 mm||11°C||43 mm|
|April||14°C||47 mm||13°C||56 mm|
|May||17°C||44 mm||16°C||42 mm|
|June||21°C||20 mm||20°C||27 mm|
|July||24°C||13 mm||23°C||10 mm|
|August||24°C||25 mm||23°C||15 mm|
|September||21°C||56 mm||20°C||45 mm|
|October||16°C||79 mm||16°C||84 mm|
|November||11°C||52 mm||12°C||76 mm|
|December||8°C||55 mm||10°C||75 mm|
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.
Getting around Cannes:
Cannes is a small city, that’s very easy to walk around. There are regular buses that are cheap and easy to use. But, on a nice day why wouldn’t you walk?
There are plenty of bike hires available if you want to cover a bit more ground.
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.
Top things to do in Cannes
La Croisette: Take a stroll along the famous promenade, La Croisette. This palm-lined boulevard runs parallel to the sea and is home to designer boutiques, upscale hotels, and glamorous restaurants. It’s the perfect spot for a leisurely walk or a spot of people-watching.
Le Suquet: Visit Cannes’ charming Old Town. There are plenty of narrow streets to wander through, colourful houses to look at and cute little squares to sit in. Make sure to visit the beautiful Notre-Dame-de-l’Espérance church, too.
Palais des Festivals et des Congrès: This convention centre is where the world-famous film festival is held! Go and take a picture on the red carpet, or you could even go and see a show.
Îles de Lérins: Go on a boat trip to Îles de Lérins, these four islands are just off the coast of Cannes. Only two are inhabited, one is home to an 11th-century monastery and the other is home to a 14th-century castle. The islands are seriously beautiful, make sure they go on your must-see list!
Rue d’Antibes: If you’re fancying a bit of retail therapy head to Rue d’Antibes, one of the main shopping streets in Cannes. You’ll find plenty of boutique shops and high-end fashion stores here.
Musée de la Castre: Sitting at the top of a hill in Le Suquet, this medieval castle is home to a museum featuring a variety of art and artefacts. The views over Cannes and Îles de Lérins is incredible. Even if you’re not into art, just go for the view!
Le Marché Forville: This daily marketing has amazing fresh produce on offer, cheeses, meats, vegetables and anything else you can think of. If you’re into cooking or food you have to go! It’s perfect for finding ingredients for a picnic or just grazing.
Villa Rothschild: Built in 1881 for Baroness Betty Rothschild, this beautiful mansion is definitely worth visiting. The manicured gardens are great for relaxing in, it’s location also offers amazing views of the city and the sea.
Plage du Midi: This beach is a short walk away from the city centre. It’s a bit quieter than Croisette Beach located in the centre. Great for a relaxing afternoon sunbathing or swimming in the sea.
Iron Mask and Fort Royal Museum: Located on Ile Sainte Marguerite, part of the Îles de Lérins. This fort contains the prison cell of the legendary man in the Iron Mask. The museum isn’t big but it’s got some great views and it’s nice to wander around the island.
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.
How to spend three days in Cannes
Morning: Begin the day with nice coffee and some pastries from a local bakery, then head to Plage du Midi beach. Soak up a bit of sun and relax on the sand. Maybe go for a quick dip to wake yourself up!
Afternoon: Treat yourself to a bit of retail therapy on Rue d’Antibes. This street is full of chic boutiques and high-end shops, perfect for shopaholics! After you’ve worked up an appetite head to Le Suquet, Cannes’ charming old town. Grab a traditional French lunch at a cosy bistro, and don’t forget to try some local specialities like a Nicoise Salad with a nice glass of rose.
Evening: Head to Quai Saint-Pierre to see the huge yachts and watch the sun go down. There are plenty of restaurants offering beautifully fresh seafood dishes. Have a few drinks and head back to the hotel.
Morning: Get the ferry to Île Sainte-Marguerite and discover the island’s hidden gems. Have a wander around the Iron Mask and Fort Royal Museum and see the cell where the island’s most famous prisoner was imprisoned. There are plenty of lush forests to explore, maybe take a picnic and have an alfresco lunch whilst looking out over Cannes and the Côte d’Azur.
Afternoon: Get a boat over to Abbaye de Lérins. An ancient monastery on Île Saint-Honorat, the second largest of the Lérins Islands. The island is still inhabited and managed by the monks that live at the monastery!
Evening: Make your way back to the mainland and visit the Musée de la Castre. A medieval castle sat on a hill overlooking the Riviera. There are plenty of exhibits to look at, the views are incredible too.
Morning: Spend the morning wandering around Le Marché Forville. This bustling market offers amazing local produce like cheeses, meats and pretty much anything else you can think of! Grab some street food for lunch or buy some local produce for a picnic.
Afternoon: See how the other half used to live at The Villa Rothschild, a stunning 18th-century mansion. This impressive villa is surrounded by well-kept gardens. Not to be confused with Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild in Nice.
Evening: Head over to Palais des Festivals et des Congrès to get some photos on the red carpet. You could do a tour or catch a show if there’s one on. If you’re luck enough to be visiting a the same time as the film festival you might even catch a glimpse of some world famous actors and celebrities.
Montpellier and Cannes Ratings
|Category||Montpellier Rating||Cannes Rating|
|Food and drink||9||9|
|Culture and history||7||6|