Introducing Around Montpellier
Strolling around the city centre, it's easy to forget that Montpellier is actually a coastal city. Regular buses run to most of the major beaches.
The closest sand is at Palavas-les-Flots, 12km south of the city and a veritable Montpellier-on-Sea in summer. Heading north on the coastal road towards Carnon, you stand a chance of seeing flamingos hoovering the shallows of the lagoons either side of the D21.
Carnon itself comes out fairly low in the charm stakes despite its huge marina. Better to continue hugging the coast along the D59 (Le Petit Travers) alongside several kilometres of white-sand beach, uncrowded and without a kiosk or cafe in sight.
About 10km northeast of Carnon is La Grande Motte, purpose-built on a grand scale in the 1960s to plug the tourist drain southwards into Spain. Its architecture, considered revolutionary at the time, now looks rather heavy-handed, especially compared to the more authentic nearby fishing port of Grau du Roi.
Aigues-Mortes, on the western edge of the Camargue, is another 11km eastwards.