Ambiance festive à Montpellier © Ambiance festive à Montpellier - crédit Ray Demski attitude

Montpellier, a decidedly young city


It's party time in all languages in the courtyard of the Panacée!

This Friday night, like every night from Wednesday to Saturday, the Contemporary Cultural Centre opens its doors to revellers. Foreign students, young entrepreneurs, young couples and families go there to taste the 'patatas bravas' that have made the place popular since they introduced it a while ago.

"This is one of the great places in Montpellier”, says Sami, who’s made it his ‘headquarters’, “In summer, in the courtyard, under the trees, there’s a laid-back atmosphere, you get the impression of being away from the crowds of the town centre, when they’re all just a few steps away... and in winter, we can keep cosy under the big wooden framework of the café…

The Panacée is no exception: Montpellier is full of places to party. It’s certainly true that, with some 70,000 students and with one inhabitant in two being under 30 years old, the capital of Hérault is a decidedly young city.

And when the bars close their doors at 1am (2am in summer) the fiesta continues in the nightclubs; one simply hops onto the Amigo, the free bus that takes revellers to the dance floors of the city centre, or to the Espace Latipolia in Raymond-Dugrand Avenue, Lattes.

Opportunities to party are plentiful in the Metropolis.

Montpellier is the ideal party city,” exclaims Jordan, a student at the faculty of letters who never misses a Saturday to go out, “There’s something for every taste, for every budget and there’s a real fiesta mentality!The Heat, The Fizz, The Panama Café , The Opera, The Milk and The Cargo get thousands of Montpellier inhabitants out dancing every weekend.

« It's one of the capitals of electro, » says Laurie, a fan of techno sounds. “If you’re into the latest in electro, there are loads of places and events happening.” In December, some 30,000 revellers will enjoy the sounds of ‘I Love Techno, Europe’, the biggest electro indoor event in Europe. Armel Campana, organiser of the festival which attracts big names from all over the world, says, “Montpellier is the home of electronic music, and we can't imagine it being anywhere else but here.

If you prefer the outdoors, then ‘Family Piknik’ is for you; located at the Montcalm park in the heart of summer, this sweet electro ‘folly’ has seduced electro music fans from all over Europe. And not forgetting ‘Tohu Bohu’, the reverse electro festival of Radio France, which makes Montpellier jump each year. So get down to Montpellier for a party!

Each year, Montpellier sits among the top few places in 'L’Etudiant’ (Student) magazine’s chart of university cities in which it is great to study. With 70,000 students and good universities whose influence radiates worldwide, as well as very prestigious schools, the capital of Hérault is a fantastic setting for a post-baccalaureate course.

Notebook under our arm, we went to meet students on campus, to ask them why it was so good to choose Montpellier for their studies. "Firstly, the climate,” admits Juliette, who has just started a degree in psychology at the Paul Valery University . “The sun’s good to motivate the ‘troops’ — brushing up on courses in the shade of the pine trees, on the lawns of the faculty, or in the little cafes of the city centre... It's all very pleasant!

For Karine, who has just started a Masters II at the Faculty of Science, campuses are, “actually very peaceful; the faculties are vast, we are not on top of each other when we want to work, whether in the library or in the corridors; and infrastructures are really comprehensive.”

Peter is just as enthusiastic — an English student who has just arrived in the faculty of letters, he is amazed by the atmosphere on the campus.

"Everywhere there’s something going on in the city’s universities — of course, we have students with their noses in their books, others strumming their guitars, singing, drawing, some gossiping or grabbing a bite to eat... it's a real small city within the city."

Young people come to Montpellier to study because they know that there’s a buzz here like nowhere else. Whatever your field of study, there’s always be something happening. Says Thomas, 19, "I came to study engineering at Montpellier because I know there are loads of big companies such as Dell or IBM, plus many promising start-up companies too, who could well employ me later."

Julia, who has just begun a performing arts course at the Faculty of Letters, agrees. "It allows me to have theoretical training in class and then test myself on the small stages,” she says. “There’s a real buzz in this area, with lots of little theatres, and theatre companies too, seeking young actors.

Hardly surprising then that Montpellier appeals to more and more students every year, not only from France, but worldwide.

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