Place de la Comédie © Place de la Comédie - Ville de Montpellier

Montpellier : beneath the paving, a beating heart



From the dawn of its history in 985, the city of Montpellier developped around the Ecusson (name of its historical centre) with ‘la place de la Comédie’ as its epicentre.  This famous square has been home to the most prestigious and beautiful events of the city. To the point where Montpellier people believe it has a unique soul. If the Comédie square could talk what would it tell us ?

« I am the Comédie square. Formely known as ‘place de l’œuf’ because of my egg-shaped design and the fact that cars drove around me. Today I am the  symbol of the city, the tourists’ favorite postcard but also the lively beating heart of the pedestrian centre. On my yellow paving, Montpellier people arrange to meet at the foot of the three graces statue and street artists demonstrate their talent as mime artists, magicians and even break-dancers. »

« I have seen all the greatest moments in the history of the city. From the winemakers’ protest in 1907 which, with 600,000 people, remains the biggest protest of the French Third Republic to the French Football Championship title in 2012 with more than 25,000 supporters. Let’s not forget the Diversity Walk and the Gay pride march, the second biggest in France in terms of attendance. I have also seen the cyclists of the Tour de France several times as well as brave marathon runners starting their race in front of the café terrasses. »

« The colourful trams glide over me as well as the suitcase wheels of the passengers coming from the Saint Roch railway station. The Comédie opera house and its neoclassical pediments have kept me company since 1888. Every morning, at the time where the first rays of sun caress the Hausmannian facades of the surrounding buildings, we are overwhelmed by the beauty that surrounds us. Most of the buildings are built with Castries white stone which dazzles us with its candor.»

« An extraordinary labyrinth of narrow streets called the Ecusson, starts from here. Within it, you will find unusual shops, friendly restaurants and numerous reminders of the city’s rich history. Examples of this are the Saint-Roch well, nestled in the Erbé shop, in the ‘la Loge’ street, the Saint-Côme anatomy amphitheatre where the first dissections in France took place and the Mikvé, one of the oldest in Europe, which accommodated the Jewish ritual baths. »

« Every day, thousands of people tread on my paving. Maybe they are on their way to the Fabre Museum, to admire one of Europe’s most beautiful collections. Or perhaps they are going to the Saint-Roch church to pay tribute to the patron Saint of pilgrims and animals. By walking a bit further they are rewarded by the gentleness of the ‘place de la Canourgue’, the coolness of the masterful Saint-Pierre cathedrale, or better still, by the radiant Arc de Triomphe, which opens onto the Royal Peyrou square.

Out of all those faces, places and all those stories, and through many different eras, I only remember one thing : Montpellier is the home of cultural and historical diversity that can be found nowhere else. I am proud to be the symbolic place of such an open minded city… »

Place de la Comédie © Place de la Comédie OT Montpellier F.Binder

Place de la Comédie


Every morning, the ritual is the same. Catherine lives in Saint-Gély-du-Fesc, North of  Montpellier. In the morning, this council employee leaves her car in the TaM car park at the Occitanie tram station. ‘Once parked, I leave my car until the evening to drive back home » says this energetic thirty-year-old. Three minutes later, Catherine gets on the Line 1 tram. The blue carriage with white swallows takes her to the ‘place de la Comédie’. There, she drinks a cup of coffee opposite the Opera whilst reading the paper.

She then hires a Velomagg bicycle (Montpellier bike-share solution) just in front of the Tourist Office with which she will cycle to the Town Hall, as well as to all her meetings of the day.

At lunchtime, she gets on her bike again and cycles to the Ecusson (Montpellier’s historical centre). « During my lunch break, I love to walk in the pedestrian area searching for good deals and anything which takes my fancy » she confesses.

Catherine is not the only person in Montpellier who uses public transport. 

More informations on the transportation network

Every day more than 300,000 people take the tram all over the Metropolis. Like Céline who lives in Castelnau-le-lez (East of Montpellier) who comes to Antigone every morning thanks to the colourful line 2 tram. Or Jean-Philippe who comes to Montpellier from Pérols (South of Montpellier) on the line 3 tram, whose carriages are decorated with fish and other sea animals.

With four tram lines, 36 bus lines and numerous ‘Vélomagg’ stations throughout the Metropolis, Montpellier’s public transport network is one of the most performant in France and in Europe. It is also one of the most beautiful, as highlighted by the New York Times in 2012. The famous american newspaper put Montpellier amongst the 45  ‘must visit’ sites. In particular for the «sexiest tramway in Europe »whose lines 3 and 4 were designed by the fashion designer Christian Lacroix.


Eglise Saint-Roch © Eglise Saint-Roch MHavard


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