Emergency measures in the wake of Covid-19:
Following the closure of all public places “non-essential” to public life including restaurants, cafes, cinemas and discos which took effect at midnight on March 14th, president Emmanuel Macron put the country into almost total lockdown on from March 17th until May 11th and then extended until July 24th. Rules forbid people from leaving home unless strictly necessary, banned them from meeting others, and required people to keep a distance of one metre from others when shopping, getting medical help, or at work not done from home.
100,000 police were deployed to enforce the lockdown, with checkpoints across the country, and fines of up to 135 euros for those not observing the restrictions. Entry into the E.U. Schengen zone had been banned. Anybody entering France has to remain confined for two weeks.
A May 11th gradual lifting of some lockdown measures includes the re-opening of many shops and the return of remote-working staff to their offices. Borders are set to reopen with Switzerland and Germany from June 15th. Masks are mandatory on public transport. Restaurants and bars may begin to reopen on June 2nd. There are reduced cross-Channel ferry service, and Eurostar has limited Paris and London service. Some flights are operating. Until at least July a coronavirus health certificate will be required and other restrictions imposed on entry.
Capital of the department of Hérault in the region of Occitania, Montpellier is the third-largest city on the French Mediterranean coast, after Marseille and Nice, and the 8th largest in France. The fastest growing city in the country these past 25 years, it has a population of which about one third is made up of students from its three universities and other institutions of education.
An important 12th century trading center ruled by the Kings of Aragon, Montpellier had links across the Mediterranean world, and medical teaching centers had been established here by Cardinal Conrad of Urach in 1220. A center of Jewish culture, the city was known for religious tolerance towards Muslims and Cathars, and later Protestant Huguenots. Sold to King Philip VI in 1349, the region became a part of France. Resistance to the Catholic crown increased, and the city was beseiged, then occupied by royal troops of Louis XIII in 1622. Under terms of the Treaty of Montpellier the city was pardoned, but the Citadel of Montpellier was built to better control its people.
The Tour des Pins is the sole survivor from among the 25 towers in the city's medieval walls, built around 1200. Rue du Bras de Fer is typical of medieval Montpellier, and the Mikve, the ritual Jewish bath, dating back to the 12th century, is one of very few that remain in Europe. Saint Pierre Cathedral was built in the 14th century and the Porte du Peyrou triumphal arch was built in the late 17th century. The main focal point of the city is the Place de la Comédie, with the Opera Comédie, built in 1888.
For much of its history Montpellier has had a significant Catalan/Spanish population (the Catalan and Occitan languages are very similar), and today it is also home to Moroccan, Algerian, and Italian communities. A lively LGBT community socializes in more than a dozen bars and saunas in the city center, and Pride is celebrated each year in mid-July.
The Montpellier-Méditerranée Airport is in the town of Mauguiois, southeast of Montpellier. Public transport makes the airport easily accessible by train, to Gare St Roch, then tramway line 1 to Place de l’Europe Tramway Station, for the Airport Shuttle bus number 120.
Montpellier rail service includes TGV highspeed trains, arriving at Gare Saint-Roch, the main railway station, with trains to and from points around France, and connections to all of Europe - see SNCF. There are plans for a future high-speed connection to the LGV Méditerranée at Nîmes.
TaM, Transports de l'agglomération de Montpellie, manages public transportation, with a four-line, 56-kilometre tramway network. They intersect at Gare St. Roch station, Rives du Lez and Corum. Single tickets cost 1.60€, a ten-trip ticket is 9.20€, an all-day ticket is 4.30€ and for 17.10€ you can ride for seven days. See their website or Getting Around Montpelier for route maps and more information.
TaM also manages 36 bus lines, plus the Vélomagg bike sharing network, with over 1,200 bicycles at 51 stations.
Currency & Money
France is part of the Euro Zone, so the euro is the accepted currency. The many ATMs in the downtown area will dispense euros direct from an American or Canadian dollar account, but consult with your bank before leaving home to see if it has French partner banks that can save on cash withdrawal charges. Also get a credit card with an imbedded chip and pin number, now required by many ticket machines in Europe, and get your bank's 24-hour non-800 service number in case of card loss.
Media & Resources
See Montpellier-Gay for LGPride information.
Têtu is the national gay magazine, packed with interesting features and profiles. It’s also one of the slickest gay magazines ever produced and they publish periodic listings guides for all of France.
See listings of gay and gay-friendly bars, saunas and some hotel and restaurants suggestions, with map locations and website links, at our gay Montpellier listings pages.
Hotel d'Aragon (10 rue Baudin; 33 4 6710-7000), 12-room boutique hotel, airport transfers, La Véranda restaurant, breakfast.
Villa Catouna (30 rue Cité Benoît, place de la Comédie; 33 6 0981-8448), gay guesthouse open July and August only, with pool and free WiFi.
Villa Ragazzi Guesthouse (2 impasse des Chenes Verts, Uchaud; 33 4 6688-9372), men-only gay guesthouse, four guestrooms/ studio, garden, terrace, pool.
Café de la Mer (5 place du Marché-aux-Fleurs), gay/lesbian bar/cafe, terrace tables, busy most evenings
Le Coxx Montpellier (5 rue Jules Latreilhe), popular gay bar and terrace, mostly men but men/women mix; drag cabaret, beefy go-gos, underwear parties and theme nights.
Le Moom (3 rue Collot), Tuesday-Saturday gay-friendly house/tech dance club, theme party nights.
Le Novelty Café (10 rue Saint-Guilhem), gay/mixed cafe/bar, terrace seating, TV sports.
PZ City Club (4 quai du Verdanson), large LGBT+mixed nightclub dancing, Tech House/ Techno and Funky Music rooms, men and women, gay and mainstream.
CLOSED: Le Chantier Cruise Club (25 rue Jean Jacques Rousseau), men's sex club; Le Cubix Bar (11 rue des Balances), gay/mixed dancing; Heaven Bar (1 rue Delpech), mostly gay men; Industrie Bar (188 av. du Marché Gare), Fri/Sat dancing; NABU Gay Club (ZAC, rue du Mas de Grille, St-Jean-de-Védas), Saturday gay danceclub; Le UP (5 rue de Girone), gay/mixed music bar; La Villa Rouge (allée de la Calade/ rte de Palavas, Lattes), young mixed dance club.
Koncept Sauna (10 avenue de Lodeve), cave-like sauna/steam, Hammam, glory-holes, cabins, bar.
One Sauna (1 rue de la Victoire de la Marne), sauna/hammam, videos, cabins, sling, cruise area, internet access.
CLOSED: Sauna de la Gare (8 rue Levat); Sauna Le 36 (36 rue Bourrely).
Chez Toto (20 rue du palais-des-Guillhem, Vieux Montpellier), local and fresh seafood and shellfish menu includes lobsters/langoustines, mussels, clams and crab.
Les Demoiselles de Montpellier (2 rue de la Carbonnerie), tea room, light meals, fresh-baked cakes, meat to vegan options; grocery store.
Mezzanine (39 rue de l'Aiguillerie), plats végétaliens, veggie burgers, desserts.
Natural Sens (18 rue de la Fontaine), vegan/organic, raw or cooked, juice bar, beer and wine.
Down the coast to the west, between Montpellier and Spain, there are several more Occitan towns with smaller gay scenes.
Freed’HOM Sauna (5, rue Berlioz), Finnish Sauna, Hammam, backroom, sling, and cruise cabins.
Sauna H2O (44 av Gambetta), sauna, Jacuzzi, cabins, sling, St Andrew's cross, bar; massage services, bear and other theme nights.
Le Look (2, Bd Matelots, Village Naturiste), gay/mixed cocktail lounge, men/women, drag shows.
Hôtel Gil de France (10, Avenue des Alizés, Cap d'Agde; 33-4-6726-7780), gay-friendly year-round modern hotel, 32 rooms and suites, large heated pool, restaurant/bar and patio.
Hôtel le National (2 rue Pons de l'Hérault, Sète; 33-4-6774-6785), seven gay-friendly guestrooms, singles, doubles and triples.
Villa Littoral (10 impasse du Littoral, Grau d' Agde; 33-4-6721-4669), gay resort, five themed guestrooms with private patios, clothing optional heated pool, hot tub and sauna, bar and restaurant, massage services, free WiFi throughout.
Backstage (1 rue Puiggary), gay, men-only cruise bar, guest DJs, cabins, darkroom, sling, g-holes, porn videos and live shows.
L'Equateur (1 rue Georges Buffon), noon-8pm sauna/hammam, Jacuzzi, porn videos, private cabins and bar for men.
Jet-Set (4 rue du General de Labedoyère), gay-friendly mixed wine/ piano bar near place République, live jazz/blues, karaoke, theme parties.
Le Labyrinth (20 avenue Louis Torcatis), afternoon/evening gay sauna/hammam and bar, maze, cabins, backroom cruising, porn videos and cabins.
Le Potchic (Bd. de la Mer, Argelès-sur-Mer), gay-friendly mixed dance club, theme party nights.