Montpellier

Sporting capital

A bustling, booming and attractive city, Montpellier became in the last decade one of the capitals of sport in France with several major league teams in dozens of different disciplines.  Montpellier's football, rugby union, handball, volley, water-polo and base-ball teams have all been crowned French champions in recent years while no sport really  overshadowed the others.

The highlight moment for sport in Montpellier was arguably the French Ligue 1 title conquered by the local football team in 2012 as it crowned the story of a club launched in the working class suburb of La Paillade by Louis Nicollin almost four decades before. Nicollin, one of the most outspoken characters in French sport and a dedicated collector of Tour de France memorabilia, dyed his hair in blue, white and red in celebration. Handball also became one of the best-loved sports around the cafés of Place de la Comédie as the local team won 14 French titles between 1995 and 2012, one Champions League in 2003 while its players formed the backbone of the French team who won several world and Olympic gold medals.
 
Rugby union also found a home in this land close to former rugby strongholds like Beziers and Narbonne and the men coached by former international scrumhalf Fabien Galthie reached the French championship final in 2011 while giving France some key internationals like Francois Trinh-Duc.

Montpellier was also crowned water-polo French champions in 2012 while its ice hockey, volleyball of women's basketball teams all play in their respective sport's first division.

Web sites

Deaws for the 1978-1979 French Cup (Louis Nicollin, François Jouvenet, Michel Drucker and Anne-Marie Peysson) © LiondartoisFans of Montpellier Hérault rugby © Florent PUISSEGURFrançois Trinh-Duc © Rémi34In 2012 Montpellier Water Polo becamez French champions for the first time © RoikiineMontpellier Agglomération Handball in 2010 © Armin Kübelbeck
30 previous stages
Prefecture of Herault (34)
Population: 265,000
Specialties: Coteaux du Languedoc wines (Pic Saint-Loup, St Chinian, Faugères), grisettes (sweets), Montpellier butter (flavoured with herbs and anchovy)
Economy: Universities, research, new technologies.
Sports clubs: Montpellier Handball, Montpellier Herault Sport Club (football, L1), Montpellier Hérault rugby club (Top 14).  
Celebrities: Rabelais, Andre Gide, Paul Valery, Jean-Antoine Chaptal,.
Jean-Jacques de Cambaceres (18th century lawyer and politician), Auguste Comte (philosopher), Juliette Greco (singer), Michel Galabru (actor), Stephane Goubert (cyclist).
Festivals: Comedie du livre (bookfair), Dance festival, Festival Quartiers libres. Printemps des comediens (June), Brass band festival (June), Electromind (July), Festival Mediterranean Cinema (October)

Montpellier

  • 985

    Count Bernard of Mauguio gave knight Guilhem lands between the Via Domitia, the Lez and Mosson rivers. Its descendants built a fortress which became Montpellier.
  • 1202

    End of the Guilhem dynasty with the death of Guilhem IX.
  • 1204

    The town is ruled by the Kings of Aragon after the wedding between Peter II of Aragon and Marie of Montpellier.
  • 1220

    Foundation of the Montpellier medicine school by cardinal Conrad, legate of pope Honorius III.
  • 1276

    Montpellier passes under the rule of the kingdom of Mallorca under James II and until 1349.
  • 1289

    Montpellier’s medicine and law schools become universities under Pope Nicholas IV.
  • 1349

    Montpellier is sold to France. It is at the time the second biggest city in the kingdom but several epidemics kill a third of the population.
  • 1440

    Merchant Jacques Cœur revives the economy.
  • 1536

    The bishop see leaves Maguelone for Montpellier. St Peter’s cathedral is built.
  • 1576

    Montpellier is a stronghold of Reformation and rises against royal authority. The Edict of Nantes leads to a short truce.
  • 1622

    Louis XIII imposes Catholicism by force.
  • 1755

    Place de la Comedie (Comedy Square) is built.
  • 19th century

    Wine becomes the town’s major resource.
  • 1962

    Strong wave of immigration by Pieds Noirs, French Algerians exiled after the country’s independence.
  • 1977

    Ricardo Bofill builds the Antigone quarter.
  • 2010

    Death of de Georges Freche, mayor and president of the Urban Community, the “master” of Montpellier for more than 30 years.
Montpellier Medical SchoolSaint-Pierre cathedral
30 previous stages
Prefecture of Herault (34)
Population: 265,000
Specialties: Coteaux du Languedoc wines (Pic Saint-Loup, St Chinian, Faugères), grisettes (sweets), Montpellier butter (flavoured with herbs and anchovy)
Economy: Universities, research, new technologies.
Sports clubs: Montpellier Handball, Montpellier Herault Sport Club (football, L1), Montpellier Hérault rugby club (Top 14).  
Celebrities: Rabelais, Andre Gide, Paul Valery, Jean-Antoine Chaptal,.
Jean-Jacques de Cambaceres (18th century lawyer and politician), Auguste Comte (philosopher), Juliette Greco (singer), Michel Galabru (actor), Stephane Goubert (cyclist).
Festivals: Comedie du livre (bookfair), Dance festival, Festival Quartiers libres. Printemps des comediens (June), Brass band festival (June), Electromind (July), Festival Mediterranean Cinema (October)

Web sites

Montpellier and cycling

Montpellier's position halfway between the Alps and the Pyrenees always made it an ideal stage finish for the Tour. In 1930, Chalres Pelissier won the fourth of his eight stage victories in the edition, which is still a record.

The most beautiful battle on the road to Montpellier took place in 1951, when Hugo Koblet, involved in the winning move initiated by Abdelkader Zaaf and Raphael Geminiani, took Fausto Coppi, Gion Bartali and Louison Bobet off their guard. Koblet won his fourth stage on his way to final victory while Coppi had one of his worst days ever on the Tour. Since then, sprinters regularly stole the show, Robbie McEwen in 2005 and Robert Hunter in 2007 taking the laurels while a team time-trial took place in 2009.

In 2011, for the Tour's last visit, Mark Cavendish had won his 5th stage of the edition.

Montpellier was also the base of the defunct Grand Prix du Midi Libre and it also is the birthplace of Stephane Goubert, who rode ten Tours between 1999 and 2009 and is now a team director for AG2R and a respected consultant.

Geminiani Raphael, Bartali Gino et Koblet Hugo, Tour de France 1951, stage Montpellier © Presse SportsRobbie McEwen wins his third stage on the Tour 2005, stage 13 Miramas-Montpellier © Presse SportsMark Cavendish wins the Limoux-Montpellier stage on the Tour 2011 © Presse Sports
30 previous stages
Prefecture of Herault (34)
Population: 265,000
Specialties: Coteaux du Languedoc wines (Pic Saint-Loup, St Chinian, Faugères), grisettes (sweets), Montpellier butter (flavoured with herbs and anchovy)
Economy: Universities, research, new technologies.
Sports clubs: Montpellier Handball, Montpellier Herault Sport Club (football, L1), Montpellier Hérault rugby club (Top 14).  
Celebrities: Rabelais, Andre Gide, Paul Valery, Jean-Antoine Chaptal,.
Jean-Jacques de Cambaceres (18th century lawyer and politician), Auguste Comte (philosopher), Juliette Greco (singer), Michel Galabru (actor), Stephane Goubert (cyclist).
Festivals: Comedie du livre (bookfair), Dance festival, Festival Quartiers libres. Printemps des comediens (June), Brass band festival (June), Electromind (July), Festival Mediterranean Cinema (October)

Web sites

Places to see

Place de la comédie

Built in the 18th century and surrounded with cosy and elegant townhouses, it is closed to its end by the Comédie Opera House, built in 1888. In the centre of the square stands the Fountain of the Three Graces and the Egg, drawn on the pavement with a red marble line. The square is today entirely pedestrian and is prolonged by the tree-lined Charles-de-Gaulle esplanade, a huge open space and the site of several events.

Fabre museum

Closes in 2003 for renovation, the most famous museum in Montpellier reopened in 2007. Over 9,200 m2, it exhibits some 900 works from the 15th to the 21st century.

Planetarium

The Galileo planetarium is one of the main realisations in the Odysseum complex. It includes mysterious stones, a stellar crossword, a wall of constellations, the solar system, asteroids floating in the air and meteorites on the ground.

Lunaret zoo

It possesses a huge Amazonian greenhouse, used by researchers to study the Amazonian biotope.

Montpellier and new architecture

Many prominent architects have changed the face of Montpellier since Ricardo Bofill created the neo-classical Antigone quarter in 1978. In the 1990s, the new suburb of Port Marianne developed and included several buildings designed by some of the world's most renowned architects like the new Town Hall, conceived by Jean Nouvel or the Crowne Plaza hotel, the work of Michel Macary. In September 2012, a huge 26,000 m2 complex, Cité des Savoirs et du Sport (City of knowledge and sport) was created by architect Zaha Hadid, the first woman to be awarded the Pritzker Prize.
In 2013 will start the construction of a new concrete building called “The Cloud”, the first architectural adventure of designer Philippe Starck.

The Comedie Opera and the fountain of the Three Graces © Christophe.FinotFabre Museum columns gallery © Romain BrégetMontpellier Arch of Triumgh
30 previous stages
Prefecture of Herault (34)
Population: 265,000
Specialties: Coteaux du Languedoc wines (Pic Saint-Loup, St Chinian, Faugères), grisettes (sweets), Montpellier butter (flavoured with herbs and anchovy)
Economy: Universities, research, new technologies.
Sports clubs: Montpellier Handball, Montpellier Herault Sport Club (football, L1), Montpellier Hérault rugby club (Top 14).  
Celebrities: Rabelais, Andre Gide, Paul Valery, Jean-Antoine Chaptal,.
Jean-Jacques de Cambaceres (18th century lawyer and politician), Auguste Comte (philosopher), Juliette Greco (singer), Michel Galabru (actor), Stephane Goubert (cyclist).
Festivals: Comedie du livre (bookfair), Dance festival, Festival Quartiers libres. Printemps des comediens (June), Brass band festival (June), Electromind (July), Festival Mediterranean Cinema (October)

Web sites

Montpellier a capital of medicine

While the Montpellier medical school is not the oldest in history, it is the oldest to be still active, the Salerno medical school having been closed in the 19th century. Its influence was such that its motto boldly claims Olim Cous nunc Monspeliensis Hippocrates (Once Hippocrates came from Cos, now he lives in Montpellier). The claim is not entirely exaggerated as so many celebrities studied there, from Nostradamus to Francois Rabelais or Theophraste Renaudot. Montpellier's medical vocation started in 1181 when Guilhelm VII granted the right to teach medicine in town. One century later, pope Nicolas IV gave his blessing to the creation of a university regrouping Law, Medicine, Literature and Theology. The reputation of the Montpellier medical school spread all over Europe when it was rumoured it had inherited the teachings of Arab and Jewish doctors. During Renaissance, the influence of the church diminished and the Royal College of Medicine received its first proper buildings in 1450. A century later, it is the first college in France equipped with an amphitheatre destined to the study of corpses. In 1593, King Heny IV created a botanic garden, which is still one of the town's riches. The school reputation was considerable at the time as famous teachers and lecturers like Gui de Chauliac or Arnaud de Villeneuve taught students like Michel de Notre Dame, aka Nostradamus, Rabelais, who became a qualified doctor in 1537 or Guillaume Rondelet. Most of the royal doctors at the time have studied in Montpellier.

While the Revolution first dissolved the old university, the Convention in 1795 created three centres for the teaching of medicine in France, in Paris, Montpellier and Strasbourg. The school then moves to its current quarters in the old St Benedict monastery outside the cathedral.

In the 19th century, an extension was built and a prestigious library established. The medical school will move to new ultramodern premises in 2015.

The University of Montpellier between 1890 and 1960 © VpeBotanic garden and astronomic observatory © VpePortrait of Guy de Chauliac, from a painting in Paris Medical School © Domaine public des Etats-UnisMuseum of Pharmacy © Vpe
30 previous stages
Prefecture of Herault (34)
Population: 265,000
Specialties: Coteaux du Languedoc wines (Pic Saint-Loup, St Chinian, Faugères), grisettes (sweets), Montpellier butter (flavoured with herbs and anchovy)
Economy: Universities, research, new technologies.
Sports clubs: Montpellier Handball, Montpellier Herault Sport Club (football, L1), Montpellier Hérault rugby club (Top 14).  
Celebrities: Rabelais, Andre Gide, Paul Valery, Jean-Antoine Chaptal,.
Jean-Jacques de Cambaceres (18th century lawyer and politician), Auguste Comte (philosopher), Juliette Greco (singer), Michel Galabru (actor), Stephane Goubert (cyclist).
Festivals: Comedie du livre (bookfair), Dance festival, Festival Quartiers libres. Printemps des comediens (June), Brass band festival (June), Electromind (July), Festival Mediterranean Cinema (October)

Web sites

video04/07/2013 

The towns 2013 : visit Montpellier

Jersey wearers after the stage 14

Classifications after the stage 14

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