The Wide World of Real Estate April 18, 2024

Coldwell Banker Around the World: March 2024


In the south of France, west of Marseilles, you will find a city that offers the trappings of old-world refinement and a beautiful climate for relaxing, Montpellier. Historically, the area boasts the distinction of being the first Roman Province North of the Alps from the late second century BCE. In the time since then, it has served as the home to the first medical university in Europe (12th century), and served as a hub of commerce, with the population doubling in the past sixty years. With growth like that, its no surprise that Montpellier is home to one of our newest offices in France, Coldwell Banker Villanova Realty.

“Georges Freche, the former mayor of Montpellier, used to say, ‘Montpellier la surdouée’ (Montpellier the gifted) because of its ever-increasing development,” shares Arnaud Blazy, the Director of Coldwell Banker Villanova Realty. “But there’s another, much more local one, ‘Montpellier là où le soleil ne se couche jamais!’ (Montpellier where the sun never sets).” Indeed, 300 days of sun a year is perfect for a city so close to the Mediterranean which boasts gorgeous beaches, mountain vistas, and the Camargue, a wetland at the delta of the Rhone river, rich in biodiversity. And for those few days it does rain, there is a fine art museum, and of course, “beaucoup” choices of regional gastronomic specialties. It is France, after all! Read on to learn more about Arnaud’s home of Montpellier and the surrounding region.

Where do you live? We live in Montpellier, a city located in the south of France, in the Occitanie region. It is known for its medieval architecture, picturesque streets, and vibrant cultural life. The Montpellier region offers a great diversity of landscapes, ranging from the sandy beaches of the Mediterranean to the mountains of the Cévennes. It is also renowned for its vineyards producing quality wines, as well as its rich Mediterranean cuisine. Economically, Montpellier is dynamic, with a developed tertiary sector and a strong presence in research and innovation. The region also attracts many students thanks to its renowned universities and pleasant living environment.

What is the perfect weekend day like? We are fortunate to have a generous climate and lovely places to go; the town lends itself to strolling with its unique medieval streets. The Place de la Comédie is particularly pleasant for a coffee, and the Musée Fabre offers a dose of refined art. Of course, you can’t talk about the region without mentioning the Mediterranean beaches of Palavas-les-Flots or La Grande-Motte, where you can relax in the sun. The hinterland also offers treasures such as the charming village of Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert or the gorges de l’Hérault for a plunge into nature.

What are the common modes of transportation there? In Montpellier people use the tramway a lot or ride bicycles. But to visit the region people use their car.

Tell us about the foods your area is known for. We have the ‘Gardiane de taureau’, a classic of Camargue gastronomy. A daube of bull meat prepared with red wine and gently simmered. The ‘Tielle Sétoise’, a generous octopus pie, imported from Italy in the late 19th century. We also have the

delicious ‘Brasucade’, this is the mussel dish to try if you’re by the sea in the Hérault region, in and around Montpellier. The mussels are cooked over an open fire and basted with a marinade. It’s a dish that’s best eaten al fresco with the arrival of fine weather. Finally, I need to mention the ‘Chichoumeille’, a regional version of ratatouille, just the sound of its name conjures up images of the South of France… sitting on a terrace in the shade of a tree, meat grilling on the barbecue and cicadas having a field day…

What is your favourite meal, at home or at a restaurant? I love everything and I enjoy cooking a lot but a nice restaurant from time to time is great too!

Where do you recommend someone vacation in your region and why? A must is the discovery of the Camargue, nestled between the two arms of the Rhône River, the Camargue remains a land of exception with a unique atmosphere found nowhere else. A paradise for migratory birds, a land of pink flamingos, bulls and horses, the Camargue can be explored with respect for nature, and can be explored at a slow pace on foot, on horseback, by bike or by boat… far from the crowds, noise and pollution of the cities. Aigues Mortes, the main city in Camargue, rises above the marshes and pink waters of the salt marshes. You are entering a postcard picture: it is a must see! From the top of the ramparts, take the covered walkway and stroll between past and present. The view over the Camargue is magical!

What is your favourite recreational or leisure time activity? I love going jogging at sunset.

Is there a specialty your area is known for? Grisettes de Montpellier sweets are Montpellier’s historic specialty and one of France’s oldest recipes. It’s a candy made with licorice and honey, emblematic ingredients of the city since the 16th century. According to legend, as early as the 12th century, the city’s merchants used the delicious black marbles as currency for pilgrims to sweeten their journey to Compostela.

Share a little known but interesting fact about the area/region: In Montpellier we have the oldest medical university in Europe.

If you were to live in any other region where we have a Coldwell Banker presence, where would it be and why? Probably on the Bassin d’Arcachon, to never be far from the ocean.

Territory Summary:

The Hérault region traces its history back to Narbonne Gaul, the first Roman province North of the Alps. It enjoyed centuries of growth, in the 12th century with the first university of medicine, and in the 15th century with the development of the High Cantons’ factories, which exported their fabrics as far afield as the Levant. It also experienced a number of crises, including the plague in the 14th century, the Wars of Religion in the 16th and phylloxera in the early 20th. Montpellier, the region’s capital, has been a garrison town, a centre of student life and a seat of central power, whose influence can still be seen in the city’s architecture. A city of commerce, trade and counters, it has remained since the post-war years, a mecca for tourism and sun-seeking. The richness and diversity of its landscapes and natural areas, combined with the region’s mild climate, create an exceptional living environment the department’s appeal. In fact, in 60 years, the population has more than doubled, with jobs moving primarily towards the production of goods and services to meet the needs of the local population.

Key Facts:

  • Population: 550,000
  • Language(s) Spoken: French
  • Climate: Mediterranean
  • Currency: Euros

Industry Facts:

  • Types of Architecture: Haussmannian architecture in Montpellier, provençal architecture
  • Average Sale price: 850,000€
  • Average years in house/apt: 7 years