Between work and fun, I’ve been to France 21 times, so it takes alot to surprise me when touring the French countryside. But Montpellier did all that and more. The jewel of Languedoc-Roussillon, Montpellier is not only a gorgeous historic city, but is also full of life. As a student capital, due to its premiere university, adorable cafés and bars abound and the city is full of tiny pedestrian-only streets.
Naturally, the best way to take advantage of these walking streets is by staying in the heart of the historic district. And there’s no better place to do this than at the Hotel Baudon de Mauny, a luxury boutique hotel in an historic mansion in the center of Montpellier’s old city.
Read on to hear more about this highly underrated city in the South of France, and Hotel Baudon de Mauny, the luxury boutique hotel in town that you don’t want to miss!
Montpellier: Capital of Languedoc-Roussillon
A city in the South of France, Montpellier is a mere 4 hour train ride or a short flight from Paris. It is the capital of France’s Languedoc-Roussillon region, an area that stretches from the Rhône valley in the east to the Spanish border in the southwest. It is made up of 300,000 hectares of vineyards, making it France’s largest wine producing region.
But while you will find high quality wine and gorgeous vineyards throughout the region, what you won’t find are boatloads of international tourists. Indeed, Languedoc-Roussillon is still one of France’s best kept secrets, frequented mainly by French tourists, and those international tourists who are in-the-know.
Baudon de Mauny: A Luxury Boutique Hotel in Montpellier’s Historic District
Upon arriving in Montpellier, head straight to the Hotel Baudon de Mauny, a luxurious old mansion that’s been converted into a premiere boutique hotel. From the outside, the hotel is hard to spot, with just a tiny door and a small brass sign. But enter though what once was an entrance for carriages in days gone by, and you’ll arrive in a beautiful courtyard with an old romanesque fountain. From there, it’s up several flights of stairs to the beautiful old mansion within.
Hotel Baudon de Mauny is a boutique hotel that houses nine individually appointed rooms, each with its own design and artistic character. The owner has taken care to ensure that every piece of furniture is design-centric, with a contemporary artistic vibe, while still maintaining the historic bone structure of the building.
Historic Rooms & Decor
A grand staircase at the entrance, as well as vaulted ceilings, and original moldings greet you throughout the building. All furniture, decor and amenities have been carefully selected from contemporary design studios. There is a self-serve bar in the beautiful grand drawing room and breakfast, which must be ordered in advance, is served amongst modern art pieces in a sunlit room.
The owner also hosts art events in the hotel from time to time, bringing local thinkers and artists to the hotel to ensure that the building is used for multiple purposes. The owner has even included an independent co-working space for local small businesses to rent out in order to further enliven this historic building.
Perfectly located, the Hotel Baudon de Mauny is just steps away from the central square in the heart of Montepellier’s pedestrian-only district and near numerous cafés and bars. My personal favorite was breakfast at Colddrip Food and Coffee, which had quite possibly the best ricotta pancakes I’ve ever had! And that’s saying something coming from a Canadian who grew up on pancakes with fresh maple syrup. Colddrip Food and Coffee serves breakfast until 4 pm and is a mere 2 minute walk from the hotel.
Need to Know
Please note that the Baudon de Mauny does not have an elevator, and the reception and rooms are accessed by two to three flights of stairs. There is no bell-boy service and staff may be unable or unwilling to assist with luggage. Staff also close the reception at 8pm each night and are inaccessible thereafter. However, as you may already know, each of these is fairly common in boutique hotels throughout Europe and can be remedied by planning your arrival time and packing light.
Getting There and Away
After arriving at the airport or train station, take a taxi or Uber to the pedestrian district in Montpellier. Since the historic district is not zoned for cars, you will have to go the final 200m on foot. But not to worry, the pedestrian district in Montpellier is the largest in France, so you won’t be needing a car there anyways. Save that for Day 3, when you move on to the nearby vineyards!
For international tourists, Montpellier is still relatively undiscovered. Get there before the secret is out!
What to do in Montpellier
In terms of activities, the best thing to do in Montpellier is to spend a solid day or two wandering the adorable pedestrian streets and taking in the history of Montpellier’s old town. This massive historic district is an absolute gem!
I also highly recommend a walking tour with Phillipe at Montpellier Free Tour, a passionate young man who brings history to life on a two-hour walking tour of Montpellier. Phillipe’s tours continue to run in the off-season (rare for Montpellier), and although I was the only one signed up for the day, he was kind enough to still run the tour for me. You’ll see parts of Montpellier’s historic district you would never have discovered otherwise, and learn all sorts of interesting facts. Please don’t forget to tip at the end, as tips are what help keep free walking tours running. I usually find that a minimum of 10 euros per person is reasonable.
Last but not least, Montpellier is jam packed with some of Frances’s finest restaurants. If you’d like to treat yourself, I highly recommend dining at L’Idée Saveurs, a Michelin star restaurant where you can have foie gras stuffed ravioli and other gourmet delicacies at an insanely reasonable price, especially given the quality.
The best part is that because the Hotel Baudon de Mauny is so well located, you can do all of this without a car. Whether you arrive to Montpellier by air or train, a short Uber or taxi ride drops you in the heart of the historic district, just 200 m from the hotel and the rest of your stay can easily take place on foot.
Stay tuned for more tips about the Languedoc-Roussillon region, my new favorite part of France. With the region opening to tourism, more and more and Franco-philes tired of Provence seeking new French treasures, I’m certain this is the region you’re going to be hearing more and more about in the next while! And this travel writer couldn’t be more excited!
I came to Montpellier with zero expectations and left wanting more. With the largest pedestrian only historic area in France, the world’s first medical school, a lively student bar scene and world class restaurants, Montpellier doesn’t disappoint.
As always, enjoy yourself! Montpellier is now one of my favorite parts of France (and I’ve been to France 21 times)!~Eileen Rhein from @lighttravelsfaster