- Population: 2,295,648
- Pop.density (people per km2): 87
Three principal communes
This lively, energetic and progressive city has long been an important trade centre and is today most known for being an important university city. With 60,000 students it is a youthful place - the average age is said to be only 25. The buzzing old city is almost entirely pedestrianized and has lots of bars and restaurants. Montpellier should definitely be one of the top places on the list for young people moving to France to consider. There are plenty of art galleries, theatres and music venues and to top it all off, the beach.
This town, close to the Spanish border, has distinctly a southern feel and a lively street life. Most of its population is of Spanish origin, and there is also a large number of North Africans. Perpignan's heyday was in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries when the kings of Majorca held their court here. Former stronghold, it is full of authentic traditions and multiple influences have left their stamp on its heritage. Many properties have a Catalan style and several Haussmann buildings are also to be found.
This laid-back sunny city, close to the border with Provence, has the most extensive Roman remains in Europe. Les Arènes
, the city's focal point, is the best-preserved Roman arena in the world, with seating capacity for 20,000 spectators. Once used by gladiators, they are the first bull-fighting scene outside of Spain and attract the summer crowds. Nîmes is also known for denim, which was first manufactured in the city's textile mills and in the nineteenth century exported to the southern USA to clothe the slaves. Modern Nîmes is now to tying to keep up with progressive neighbour Montpellier by recruiting a host of very fashionable architects and designers including Norman Foster, Jean Nouvel and Philippe Starck to instill it with a bit of architectural 'x' factor that is not 2000 years old.