Rives du Lez à vélo © Rives du Lez à vélo - crédit OT Montpellier

Montpellier in the heart of nature

Nature is present everywhere in Montpellier. The river Lez that crosses the city is its lung. A genuine paradise for runners, walkers and picnic lovers.

Hôtel de Ville de Montpellier © Hôtel de Ville - OT Montpellier M.Hess

It is true that the vegetation here is very lush.

Thirty-eight-year-old Tony completely relaxes when he fishes along the Lez opposite the Hôtel de Région (Regional Council Hall) in the Antigone district.

I don’t catch much because I am not very good at it but I like these quiet and peaceful moments. I need them to take a break from work, as I have rather hard days " explains this builder. Tony is not the only one to come here to breathe the fresh air, or simply to relax along the river that runs through the city. Marie, 23 years old, likes running along the river banks and to follow the river all the way to Lattes. «How many cities can boast so many green areas within its centre? » asks this psychology student. It is true that the vegetation here is very lush.

Indeed, the city has many open-air recreational areas. First, the Montcalm park. These former military barracks welcome gymnastic sessions daily and allow family and friends many idyllic and relaxed afternoons. Montcalm, nestled in the town centre also provides tennis courts, a football pitch and a basketball ground which the local youth can use for free.

Then there is the Méric park in the Aiguelongue district, a poetic haven of peace. The famous painter Frédéric Bazille used to come here to paint. Bordering the Lez river, it is the biggest dog park of the whole city.

Early in the morning or late at night dog owners meet up. «Whilst our pets are playing, we exchange advice on products or on training techniques»  explains Sylvain, the master of Tiburce, a young 9 month old Belgian Shepherd.

The sporty usually gather in the Montmaur wood near the Lunaret zoo, to run. « Because it is a very large area, the number of running circuits is almost infinite » confirms 32 year old Nicolas whilst stretching. It is in this wood that Patrice Canayer, the emblematic coach of Montpellier handball club likes to gather his players at the beginning of each season to «make them suffer a little". 

But not everyone has the same dedication as the MHB athletes. This is the reason why Sophie and Marc prefer to take a walk with their young seven year old son in the Lunaret zoo. The park is one of the few in France to offer free entry to all.

"The lionesses, the bears, the cheetahs or the girafes are all good reasons to come and spend a fun and restful afternoon ". " And the zoo is as good as the most prestigious ones of France !", adds the mother, a vet in one of Montpellier metropolis municipalities. 

From its source in Prades-le-Lez to its mouth in Palavas-les-Flots, the Lez river runs through Montpellier and offers permanent marvel all along its 29 kms.

The Lez is the Mackuc base, Montpellier’s kayak polo club, several times French champions. It is also the natural habitat to several magnificent swans. «If they settle here and reproduce, which is what is happening, it means that the river offers an ideal place to live» confesses Vincent Mouret, a Montpellier ornithologist. 

The river Lez is also a captivating setting full of legends. Such as that of the «Rocher de Substantion » which is located very near the natural reserve of Lunaret, a haven of peace for all walkers. According to the ancients, the night of Saint John (24th June) this famous rock would open and treasure would appear between the first and the twelfth chimes. According to the locals, some greedy human beings would have let themselves be lured inside the rock with no time to extract themselves. So watch out! You’ve been warned!

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