Montpellier, Avignon or Nimes

Mar 4th, 2004, 08:40 PM
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Montpellier, Avignon or Nimes

I'm travelling to France/Spain/Italy this summer for 9 weeks. I've pretty much mapped out my route of where I want to go but just need to narrow it down a bit, any advice I can get on choosing one place over another would be appreciated. I prefer architecture, outdoor sights and the people, over arts, museums and shopping (well love shopping but won't be able to carry any more!) also accessibility is important as I'm travelling by train. So I'm just going to post the same note on a few options I need help with. Thanks.
Tess33 is offline  
Mar 4th, 2004, 08:43 PM
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Of the three I'd certainly choose Montpellier. It has all you mention, and is almost a major "hub" for train travel.
Patrick is offline  
Mar 4th, 2004, 10:05 PM
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and I woud choose Avignon, the architecture, food, and easy travel to other places.
cigalechanta is offline  
Mar 5th, 2004, 07:16 AM
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Definitely Montpellier. With the oldest university in France, it has all the wonderful things a good-sized university town has to offer, plus fabulous weather and excellent transportation options. And it's close to the beach, if that's of interest to you.
StCirq is online now  
Mar 12th, 2004, 01:14 PM
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I've got lots of info and photos of the montpellier area on my homepage at :

mpprh is offline  
Mar 12th, 2004, 04:55 PM
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I was just in Provence this week (made Arles my base from March 2-9) and was in each of those places you've indicated. Avignon's history is more Medieval and is tied into its famous "Palais du Pape" and the famous pont (bridge). Aside from being a major access point for trains in the south of France, I do not really think it is that spectacular to visit (IMO). However, since you will be traveling by train, you will no doubt, pass through Avignon so you might as well take 1 hour or 2 and see those couple places while you are there.

I found Nimes fascinating. It is full of ancient Roman and Medieval architecture (I am a Roman historian) and the amphitheater in Nimes is still used today for bull fights and performances. Not to mention its equally impressive Pantheon. They have a huge, lovely public garden with a former tower/look-out point belonging to the Romans that is worth a climb up into to see the neighboring region.

Montpellier is a charming town with a "small" feel to it. The "centre ville" is along Avenue Jean Jaures and Ave de Horloge and leads down to the magnificent arch and water area, with views overlooking Montpellier and the remains of its Roman aqeduct (longer than the Pont du Gard span near Nimes). Don't miss a trip to the "Les Jardines", the University of Montpellier's and France's 1st botanical garden. It is the oldest garden in France (founded by Henri IV in 1593), it is closed on Mondays but open all other days of the week. Definitely worth a visit!

Of these 3 places, I found Montpellier to be the most charming (IMO). I will make a return visit there in the near future.
Huitres is offline  
Mar 12th, 2004, 07:00 PM
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I've also visited all three. I would rank them as follows:

#1--Montpelier. Cool architecture spanning a wide range of styles and eras (some sections look as Second Empire as Paris, but with palm trees, others are post-Modern), great vibe, some good restaurants, decent shopping, easy access via train, lively public squares.

#2 Avignon--Again, some lively public squares. Avignon seemed much darker than Montpellier to me, despite the fact that we were there at the same times of year. Somehow, Montpelier was sunnier, even on drearier days. I think the streets are narrower in Avignon. Decent restaurants, didn't do much shopping here so I can't speak to that, but there's supposedly a good flea market at Villeneuve-les-Avignon. The city has a cultured vibe--there's a terrific theatre and of course the Palais des Papes and Petit Palais. Good train connections here, too.

#3--Nimes. Some interesting sites, but to my taste, just enough for a half day or so. Didn't eat here, so can't speak of restaurants. Impressive classical architecture at the Roman sites. I was not impressed by the shopping--it all seemed very ordinary to me. We had a car, so I can't really address the train connections, although I don't think they're as frequent or direct as either Montpelier or Avignon.

Another thing to take into consideration is that Montpelier is definitely a college (read: party) town. Lots of American students here on Junior Year Abroad programs. It gets a little rowdy, but in a very fun way.
elle is offline  
Mar 15th, 2004, 11:03 PM
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I agree with Huitres. Montpellier is a great place to visit.

Just a small point :

Montpellier was founded in 11C and the aqueduct is 16C.

I've got lots of area info and photos on my homepage at
mpprh is offline  
Mar 15th, 2004, 11:40 PM
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Another vote for Montpellier for more livelier/younger nightlife, outdoor sights,& contrasting old/new architecture.
DAX is offline  
Mar 15th, 2004, 11:43 PM
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Oops ignore "MORE"
DAX is offline  

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