Template:FRdot Montpellier (Occitan Montpelhièr) is a city in the south of France. It is the capital of the Languedoc-Roussillon région, as well as the préfecture (administrative capital) of the Hérault département. Population of the city (commune) of Montpellier at the 1999 census was 225,392 inhabitants, whereas the whole metropolitan area (in French: aire urbaine) had a population of 459,916 inhabitants in 1999. As of February 2004 estimates, the population of the city of Montpellier reached 244,700 inhabitants, meaning a record 1.7% population growth per year between 1999 and 2004.


Geography and economy

The city is situated on hilly ground 10 km (6 miles) inland from the Mediterranean coast at the coordinates 43°37N 3°52E, on the River Lez. The name of the city, originally Monspessulanus, is said to have stood for mont pelé (the naked hill, because the vegetation was poor), or le mont de la colline (the mount of the hill) [1] (; an alternative theory is that it was named for the hill of Monte Pestelario. It is a major industrial centre, producing textiles, metal goods, wine, printed materials and chemicals.


Montpellier is one of the few cities in France that does not have a Roman background. In the Early Middle Ages the nearby episcopal town of Maguelone was the major settlement in the area, but raids by pirates encouraged settlement a little further inland. Montpellier, first mentioned in a document of 985, was founded under a local feudal dynasty, the Guillem counts of Toulouse, who joined together two hamlets, built a castle and walls around the settlement. The two surviving towers of the city walling, the Tour des Pins and the Tour de la Babotte are later in date, however. Montpellier came to prominence in the 10th century as a trading centre, with trading links across the Mediterranean world and a rich Jewish cultural life and traditions of tolerance of its Muslims, Jews and Cathars— and later of its Protestants.

William VII of Montpellier established a faculty of medicine in 1180; the city's university was established in 1220 and was one of the chief centers for the teaching of medicine. This marked the high point of Montpellier's prominence.

Missing image
The Cathedrale St-Pierre in Montpellier

The city became a possession of the kings of Aragon in 1213 by the marriage of Peter II of Aragon with Marie of Montpellier, who brought the city as her dowry. Montpellier gained a charter in 1204 when Peter and Marie confirmed the city's traditional freedoms and granted the city the right to choose twelve governing consuls annually. Montpellier remained a possession of the crown of Aragon until it passed to James III of Majorca, who sold the city to the French king Philip VI in 1349, to raise funds for his ongoing struggle with Peter IV of Aragon. In the 14th century, Montpellier gained a church (not yet a cathedral) dedicated to Saint Peter, noteworthy for its very unusual porch supported by two high, somewhat rocket-like towers. With its importance steadily increasing, the city finally gained a bishop, who moved from Maguelone in 1536 and sat in the neighbouring community of Montpelliéret (eventually absorbed into Montpellier proper).

At the time of the Reformation in the 16th century, many of its inhabitants became Protestants (or Huguenots as they were known in France) and it became a stronghold of Protestant resistance to the (mainly Catholic) French crown. In 1622, King Louis XIII besieged the city and took it after eight months, building the citadel to secure it. During the 19th century the city developed into an industrial centre. In the 1960s, its population grew dramatically after French settlers in Algeria were resettled in the city following Algeria's independence from France.

Lords of Montpellier


  • Lewis, Archibald. "The Guillems of Montpellier: A Sociological Appraisal", 1971.
  • Catholic Encyclopedia: ( Montpellier, diocese of

Notable sights

Missing image
Rue Foch, Montpellier, looking towards the Porte du Peyrou

The University of Montpellier is one of the oldest in France, having been granted a charter in 1220 by Cardinal Conrad von Urach and confirmed by Pope Nicholas IV in a papal bull of 1289. It was suppressed during the French Revolution but was re-established in 1896.

Several housing projects have been designed by the Catalan architect Ricardo Bofill.

The city has a fine botanical garden, the first in France, founded in 1593. Near the university is the 14th century cathedral of Saint-Pierre. A triumphal arch, the Porte du Peyrou, stands nearby; this was built in 1691 and designed in the Doric style with later carvings glorifying King Louis XIV of France. The 17th century Aqueduc St-Clément is a 17th century aqueduct covering an 800m span across the eponymous Les Arceaux ("The Arches") district of the city; it was used to bring water from the St Clément spring 14 km away. The aqueduct emptied into a water tank near the triumphal arch, from where the water would run downhill to fill fountains and public water points.

Famous inhabitants of Montpellier

Montpellier was the birthplace of:

François Rabelais (1493-1553) and Nostradamus (1503-1566) studied at the University of Montpellier.


Montpelier is known for being the only capital in France not to have a McDonalds. Interestingly, so is Montpelier, Vermont, which was named after the city.

External link


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