The Ecusson is the name given to old Montpellier and should also be without doubt your next destination. Now Renfe-SNCF en Coopération takes you on your high-speed trains to Montpellier in less than 3 hours from Barcelona. The Renfe-SNCF en Coopération stations are always in the center of the big cities. So you do not need to make extra trips, spend more money or wait to get to the Ecusson, or Montpellier center.
Travel with up to three suitcases in the most environmentally friendly means of transport and discover all the hidden charms of old Montpellier.
The "shield" of old Montpellier
Ecusson means "shield" in French, and old Montpellier is so called because seen from above it resembles the shields that warriors used to carry. The entire Ecusson is surrounded by medieval walls that hide its charms. The old quarter of Montpellier is medieval, because this city is not of Roman origin like the nearby Nimes. Montpellier was founded in the 10th century, but by the 13th century it was home to the court of the kings of the Crown of Aragon. Here King Jaume I was born, who is the most celebrated son of Montpellier.
To begin to discover the old Montpellier we must go to the Opera Comédie. This building dates from 1888, and is usually the beginning of the Ecusson tour. Very close, about two minutes walking, we find the Fabre Museum, which also dates from the 19th century and contains an enormous amount of works of art from different movements and eras. From here we can walk the Ecusson, since cars are not allowed in old Montpellier. We can not miss the narrow representative streets of the Ecusson or the facades of the palaces of the 17th and 18th centuries. Most of those have turned now into hotels that preserve all the architecture on the outside, but offer all the present commodities on the inside.
Discover the charms of this medieval walled quarter
Saint Pierre Cathedral and Faculty of Medicine
One of the symbols of old Montpellier is the Saint Pierre Cathedral. This cathedral is very well known for its façade with two large columns that make it look more like a castle than a church. The building of the Cathedral of Saint Pierre was built in 1364 by Pope Urban V but did not become a cathedral until the 16th century. Today it is the biggest tourist attraction of the Ecusson and the second most visited place of old Montpellier, only surpassed by the Faculty of Medicine of Montpellier.
The Faculty of Medicine itself is right next to the Saint Pierre Cathedral and has an impressive facade that we can not miss. It is one of the symbols of old Montpellier for many reasons, not only for its architectural beauty. This faculty was founded in 1180 and from the beginning of its activity allowed to teach and study people of all kinds of beliefs (Christian, Jewish and Muslim). Even today it is the oldest faculty of medicine in operation. Some of his most famous students are Nostradamus, Ramon Llull, or François Gigot de La Peyronie, among many others.
But not everything is monuments and historic buildings in old Montpellier. Here you can also find a wide variety of restaurants and shops. There are a good amount of traditional French bistrots to enjoy the French cuisine in all its splendor. And once with a full stomach, we can tour the central streets of the Ecusson for shopping. Here we find both ubiquitous brands, luxurious firms and small businesses. Rue Foch is the most popular street for shopping in old Montpellier, but part of the adventure is to find our own itinerary. And if you want to go classic, very close to the building of the Opera de la Comédie is the Polygone shopping center and the famous Galleries Lafayette.