The expansive place de la Comédie is the living room of Montpellier, a square full of bars and cafes where the 18th-century “Fountain of the Three Graces,” takes pride of place in front of the 19th-century opera. The former military parade ground, champ du Mars, spreads out from here, where you’ll find the Tourist Office, Musée Fabre, and Le Corum convention and arts venue. Head up rue de la Loge to explore the old town.

Walk west along the Rue Foch past the Arc de Triomphe and into the park. The formal arch was erected in 1691 to celebrate the victories of Louis XIV whose equestrian statue you pass on your way up to the 17th-century promenade du Peyrou with views of the Cévennes and the Mediterranean. The lofty classical-style pavilion, Château d’Eau is a monument to 18th-century classicism, built as the terminus of an aqueduct carrying water to the city from a nearby source. Just to the northeast lie the cathedral and botanical gardens.

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