Great Hikes Around Montpellier, France

One of the many reasons Thibault and I were excited to move to Montpellier was because of the great hiking in the area. So far, the hikes around Montpellier have not disappointed. There is a great range too, from leisurely walks to challenging and technical routes.

What makes Montpellier great for hiking enthusiasts?

For reference, France is roughly the size of Texas, USA.

Montpellier is a sprawling mid-size city in the South of France about six miles (10 kilometers) inland from the Mediterranean Sea. To the north and northwest are various French national parks, and to the southwest are the Pyrenees Mountains, a massive range spanning more than 305 miles (430 kilometers) along the French and Spanish border. (This is a region I’d love to explore more of. I got a taste when exploring Girona with my brother and mom in 2019 and this content creator always had the most beautiful photos of her time living there.) While we have yet to venture over to the Pyrenees, we’ve taken advantage of having a car to explore several routes within ninety minutes driving of the city center.

Please note that all distances from Montpellier are noted in terms of driving time. For information on the most up-to-date means of reaching these locations via public transport, please see the tourist websites, which I’ve linked at the end of each section.

Lac du Salagou

Distance from Montpellier: 1 hour

What we loved about it: Well-maintained trails for easy walking, gorgeous red dirt that blazes in the sunshine, sense of community with other walkers (this route is popular!).

Other possibilities: Perfect for a picnic, mountain biking, or exploring with children.

You can find more information on the tourist site here.


Distance from Montpellier: 30 minutes

What we loved about it: More of a walk than a hike, with plenty of opportunities to view wildlife such as flamingoes in the shallows and take in gorgeous views of the sea. There is also a cafe located on a vineyard where you can stop and have a snack or a meal, as well as peruse the gift shop.

Other possibilities: In the summertime, this would be a fabulous beach day. We went in January and contrary to what people will tell you, the South of France does experience cold weather. It’s brief and not that bad because there’s usually a lot of sunshine, but it does get very cold, especially when that sun goes down.

As the French say: Attention ! The walking path down to the ocean commences with a stroll over a bridge that is raised in the evening. You would think that this would be trumpeted to all who cross over the bridge, but no, there is just a little plaque providing the information to passerby, and too bad if you didn’t read it on your way in. Thibault and I didn’t make it back before the bridge was raised for the evening, which resulted in a five-kilometer walk to a gas station (accessible only by crossing a highway on foot), which was followed by an Uber back to where we’d parked our car. The worst part? We couldn’t even really complain, because the other people trapped were a couple with a baby in a stroller and their dog. I kid you not, the workers refused to raise the bridge and subjected this family to a twilight trip in the middle of nowhere.

You can find more information on visiting Villeneuve les Maguelone here.

Cirque de Navacelles

Distance from Montpellier: 1 hour and 15 minutes

What we loved about it: This was a proper hike in what is apparently Europe’s deepest canyon? Who knew! We went a little less than 8 miles (13km) in a lovely loop that took us through forest, past tiny ancient stone cottages and a water mill, and were treated to great landscape views on the final descent.

Of note: As of this writing, it’s a bit unclear where the trail begins when you arrive because there is construction happening at the end of the carpark. You can walk around the construction fencing and pick up the trailhead behind it!

More information on the Navacelles Circuit, including history and alternative means of getting to the canyon, can be found here.

Gorges d’Heric

Distance from Montpellier: 1 hour 40 minutes

What we loved about it: This isn’t really one trail so much as an area with a ton of different options. You even have some areas where you can climb if that’s something you’d be interested in learning, and go canyoning in the summertime. There is also a nice touristic path that connects many of the small villages, so if you do a big walk up and around the mountains and come down on the same side, there’s a good chance you can light on the flat walking path to get back to the village you started from. This is what we did, starting from Mons La Trivalle, and it worked great.

We also found our route on the app Visorando. It’s a great app and very handy but be careful to bring a backup battery for your phone and try to remember to download the map before you leave so you’re not draining your phone’s battery in the mountains.

You can find more information on visiting Gorges d’Heric here.

And that’s a wrap on all of the hikes we’ve done since moving to Montpellier!

If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them 🙂

Leave a Comment