We are well underway on our epic Rad Season European Tour and just ticked another major event off the list. One of the main events in the FISE World Series just took place in the heart of Montpellier in the South of France and we took our two-year-old son Theo along for the ride. With so much to see and do, I decided to venture outside of the wide world of action sports and explore a bit of the city; looking for some rad things to do with kids in Montpellier.
The city of Montpellier is really easy to get around, with trams connecting pretty much everywhere you want to be. The tramway consists of four main lines, which are straightforward and easy to understand.
You can tell where each tram is going by the colours of the exterior. Line 1 connects the northern part of the city with the southeast side, including the Odysseum, and is painted blue with white swallows. Travelling from east to west, line 2 is colourfully decorated with bright flowers. Line 3 travels from Juvignac to Lattes et Pérols and is painted in warm summer colours. Line 4 is simply bright and circulates the centre of Montpellier.
You can buy tickets at the tram station, as well as 120 automatic distributors and more than 100 participating stores around the city; the cheapest one is valid for two hours. Be sure to have exact change when purchasing tickets from a machine as no change is given. All the sights we visited were easily accessible by tram and the wait time for the tram was never more than a few minutes. Theo absolutely loved travelling via tram as he’s obsessed with all things vehicles, especially trains and trams!
First on the agenda was Le Petit Train de Montpellier; a little touristic train that offers a sightseeing tour of the city. The train rides around the historic centre and offers an audioguide in eight different languages! The train departs from the tourist information centre on Place de la Comedie and the tour takes around 40 minutes. This is a great way to get your bearings and discover the main sights of the city and learn where to go next once the tour ends.
It’s also perfect for active kids, especially ones that are obsessed with trains like Theo! He had the time of his life riding around on the train while I listened to an explanation of all the sights with the headphones.
Place de la Comédie is Montpellier’s stunning pedestrian-only square, featuring the Three Graces Fountain in the centre. Here you can find the square lined with cafes, terraces, historic buildings, entertainers and more. You can even find a typical French carousel in the Comédie (Theo loved riding the fire truck on the carousel)! Throughout the square, you can find various street performers, keeping crowds of visitors entertained.
We loved the overall buzzing atmosphere this place had throughout the day; however, we noticed it got a bit seedy later on in the evening. Nearby is Esplanade Charles de Gaulle, a tree-lined path featuring fountains and a large grassy area, which was perfect for a picnic. Theo was quickly enthralled by the park ‘Jardin du Champs de Mars’, where he was able to climb fortresses and bridges!
Open-air shopping at it’s finest. The Odysseum shopping centre is not your typical French experience; but instead, feels much like an entertainment centre in the US. Here you can find countless boutiques, fast fashion, accessories, restaurants and more. They even had an ice rink cinema and an aquarium!
‘Theo absolutely loved it and naturally, the first thing we did after getting off the tram was ride the carousel and explore the gaming and entertainment areas.’
The aquarium was an absolute hit! Perfect for young and old, Planet Ocean Montpellier showcases more than 400 marine species in a unique and unforgettable environment. The highlight of our visit was seeing the penguins and we were lucky enough to arrive during feeding time. It was hilarious watching Theo, who kept commenting on the penguins to eat!
When you enter the aquarium you feel like you are walking through a giant fishing boat. There is a commander bridge with a simulator that transports you out into the big open sea with a rainstorm hitting you! The older kids absolutely loved it but Theo was a bit shaded and probably a bit too young to understand what was going on.
‘Throughout the ship, we got to explore all the different tanks; a personal highlight for me was the sharks and tropical fish.’
There is also a deep water area where you can find animals that are living in near darkness! These might not have been the most colourful things to look at, but it was definitely very educational! Towards the end, there is a cinema; where you can sit down on large benches and watch the fish on the big ‘screen’ – a huge glass front showing off the fish.
At the end of the aquarium was a planetarium. I would have preferred to see this separately as our senses were definitely overloaded by the time we reached it. It was, however, perfectly done for the kids and extremely interactive. Theo was chasing asteroids, walking on the moon, launching rockets and even got to meet an alien!
Another non-French experience but an experience nonetheless! Pirates Paradise is a spectacular themed restaurant set in what feels like a giant cave with ships and of course: pirates. The entire interior is decorated and the tables come with crayons and a menu that turns over to a colouring-in page.
Theo explored the play area with the other kids and ended up climbing up to the top of a soft play and climb area and sliding down the big kids slide – over and over again! Even when the food arrived, he didn’t want to leave! Luckily the pirate show started as soon as we started eating. There were pirates flying through the air and ‘fighting’ and loud music. Some kids were a little scared but Theo loved the spectacle. The food was super yummy as well and the atmosphere was great. Although it was a kids restaurant, I loved every minute of it; seeing the excitement on my little boy’s face.
We were craving burgers one night and thought about where to find the best burgers in Montpellier. An American Diner should surely live up to that so we headed over to Tommy’s Diner. The 50’s themed restaurant had a unique and authentic atmosphere and was decorated with stainless steel, bright colours, neon lights and old school icons.
Theo loved the motorbikes and car-themed decorations and was occupied playing basketball and looking at all the vintage miniature cars on display while we waited for our food. The burgers did not disappoint and Theo was entertained; he even got a paper car at the entrance with crayons! This was a great family experience.
Aigues-Mortes is a cute little town on the river, surrounded by medieval city walls. The city boasts 2000 years of history and features typical French streets filled with artist workshops, art galleries, medieval churches and more. Like any good French town, there was a tchou tchou train to get around and get a taste of the historic centre.
Unfortunately, the tour was only in French; however, they gave us English handouts so we could understand what was being said. The town was great for Theo as most of the historic centre is pedestrian only. He was running around chasing pigeons while we soaked up the lovely atmosphere.
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