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If you only have time to go to one restaurant in Montpellier, then make it Le Grillardin in the little Place de Chappelle Neuve. In a shady little square surrounded by beautiful old buildings with pastel blue shutters of a shade you yearn to capture but seems to be peculiarly French, faded over decades, perhaps centuries. It’s a divine setting which nourishes as much as the delicious dishes. Tables spill onto the square, servers nip about explaining (in English if required) what’s on the menu. “Salmon is our starter of the day” I was told “smoked in our own chimney” with pride. Tables fill quickly here so book in advance or get there for 7.30 when service starts. It’s loved by the locals and no wonder… Chez Boris is famous in Montpellier for its meaty menu, if steak’s your thing you're going to love it here - and the crispy home cooked chips. The servers are friendly and speak English and it’s fun to watch them dash across the road with trays of food and drinks to the terraces on the other side under Plane trees. Where to eat in the Old Town Burger and Blanquette is a burger bar with panache and the most delicious salads ever. Eat inside the cool restaurant or on the esplanade outside under shade and watching the world go by. Seriously lush. Head to the contemporary art centre La Panacée for Sunday brunch, you need to be there by 11.am as there’s no reservation system but for about 18 euros you’ll get a great menu. The locals love this place and for a true taste of Montpellier – it’s perfect. Stop for a cooling chilled tea at the lovely Citron Salon de Thé. Cool bars Cafe Joseph has been going for nearly 3 decades and makes for a vibrant night out, good music and dance floor - and it's not too young. Le Glougou (which means glug glug) 27 rue du Pila St Gély – great food and great atmosphere, there are big wooden tables that promote friendly chitchat and you can buy wine by the glass, great for a nightcap.
The new city of Montpellier Montpellier is a booming area, often voted one of the places the French would most like to live and the number of residents is growing year on year. To cope with the influx, the town is expanding in an extraordinary architectural experiment. The city has been expanding for a while - at first it went north towards the hills but in a calculated decision to control the growth and make it something special, the town is spreading south to the sea. The initiative that was hatched in 1977 by then Mayor Georges Frêche. The goal was to create the perfect city. The architectural team started with a blank canvas and turned the outskirts of Montpellier into a real-life laboratory of architecture. Antigone The Antigone neighbourhood, named after the ancient Greek play, was erected principally during the 1970s and 1980s. It has plenty of grand neo-classical buildings and wide-open boulevards, including the central axis nicknamed the Champs- Elysées by locals. The most innovative architects in the world have designed buildings here but it’s happened in a very organised way. It’s not a messy hotchpotch of looks, there’s a consistent theme being woven through this new part of Montpellier. Wide open spaces, height restrictions, even the look has to a certain extent been controlled although architects have been given a free hand overall while keeping to a few rules.
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