About a third of the population in Montpellier is students and this chic French city on the Mediterranean has universities that date back almost a thousand years. No wonder young people love it – the sublime southern climate, proximity to beaches and diverse nightlife make it one of France’s liveliest cities. Here’s where to join the collegiate hijinks.

Watch bands at Le Rebuffy

Affordable drinks, live music and a very relaxed vibe make this bar –  known as the Pink Elephant –  a favourite of the city’s students. Get hot and sweaty watching local rock bands inside or sit beneath the tree branches and festoon lights outside and play board games.

Devour cheese at Le Fine  Mouche 

Students can be gourmets too, you  know – at this cheese bar, food-loving undergraduates gather to share huge charcuterie boards at bargain prices. You can sit outside and people-watch, or grab some to takeaway and scoff it in a park. 

Sip cocktails at Papa Doble

Cocktail-seeking students head straight to Papa Doble, a  cosy vintage-style Ernest Hemingway-themed bar where heady drinks pay homage to the writer. This bar is big on rum – whether early evening on the terrace or later by candlelight, the vibe is hard to beat.

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Palavas-les-Flots port at night / Image: Adobe Stock

Sun-seek in  Palavas-les-Flots 

When the studying’s done, students hit the beach. A 10km-train ride to the west deposits you in  Palavas-les-Flots, a buzzy strip of sand where you can sunbathe, swim and play bat and ball all you like. Visitors come for the day but stay for the evening – grabbing pizza and ice cream at the seaside bars.

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