"Off the city"
Montpellier it's cool... it's so f%ing cool that you could spend all of your life there, drinking rosé wine all day long while preparing your next trip to the beach, roaming in the old city center like a hobo or an exchange student (a bit the same sometimes haha) or learning new circus tricks at the Peyrou park with the students from Paul Valery... Definitely a must city to live in while in France! But sometimes, you need some fresh air, discover some new things, feel the real countryside France and go away from the craziness of the city... Go green! That's why you will love Saint-Guilhem-le-désert.
If there is one thing I always regretted about Montpellier, it is the lack of green space in the city center. Of course you may find some nice piece of nature along the Lez River, on the esplanade and a bit further the city center, but no real park like I loved them in Berlin or Copenhagen. Of course, I don't blame the city council... it is not an easy thing to put a huge park in such an old city with narrow street and few available space remaining. And actually, I quite congratulate them on the numerous green facilities that they are putting together every time a new neighborhood is raising in the city, the best example being the eco-city in Port-Marianne... But if you want to go green, you have to leave the city scene!
Saint Guilhem the beautiful
Saint-Guilhem-le-désert is about 45minutes - 1 hour from Montpellier and is one absolutely astonishing piece of land... if you want to see some old beautiful landscape, this is the place to be. The village is actually part of "the most beautiful village in France", an organization that found for you the 150 cutest territories of the old "Gaule". The place has all the charm you are looking for in small villages like that: Houses made of old bricks with flower pot laying on the windows , beautiful architecture, water spilling through the narrow streets, some artisanal shops and awesome nature surrounding. It feels like being back ages ago when life was easy and slow, when people took time to live!
Among the many things to see, you can go have a drink of wine on the old place of the village, visit the artisans whom make many different kinds of products from pottery to painting or the wonderful abbey older than one century. If you have time and feel a bit adventurous and want to get your shoes dirty you can follow the walking path going to the top of the hill... offering you a view of the region you will not regret. Another activity that would be equally or even more fantastic is to go down the river "gorge de l' Herault" by canoe. It takes few hours to do and will make your afternoon. A wonderful spectacle guaranty while sailing through those clear waters! You can also visit the Clamouse cave if the sun is too warm with its beautiful underground landscapes. Visits are possible with an audiobook in 6 different languages.
Website of the village: Saint-Guilhem-le-desert Village