As imposing as it is sprawling, Montpellier’s Cathédrale St-Pierre is a must-see on your trip to this dreamy southern French city. It was commissioned by Pope Urban V in 1364 and was converted into a cathedral in 1536 when the archbishopric was transferred from Maguelone to Montpellier.
The cathedral omits a fortress-like air thanks to its two tower-like cylindrical pillars – 4.55m in diameter – supporting an impressive arched porch. Indeed, it was nicknamed ‘Fort St. Peter’ and these are the main medieval architecture elements of the cathedral that are still standing today, after suffering extensive damage during the Wars of Religion between Catholics and Protestants in the 16th century.
Adjacent to the cathedral lies the Faculty of Medicine, housed in the former cloister of the monastery of Saint-Benoît. Musée d’Anatomie also sits off this same courtyard and can be explored as part of the guided tours of the Faculty of Medicine organised by the Tourist Office.
The cathedral is open every day to visits, free of charge, and during the summer months, Montpellier’s Tourist Office also arranges guided tours.
Nearby to see
The botanical garden Jardin des plantes de Montpellier lies just behind the Cathedral. Head to this area of the city in the morning and visit the Cathedral first. Take a walk afterwards around the gardens – again, these are at their best in the morning – that were created to aid the students at Montepellier’s famous medical university in their botany studies.
Nearby for food
There’s a lovely cafe, Broc Café, under a five-minute walk away from the garden and cathedral, perfect for a morning coffee and bite to eat. The ambiance here reflects Montpellier perfectly and as it is only open from 8am-12pm it is the perfect pre-lunch pit stop.