Montélimar (Fr. Montélimar) is a commune in the Drôme department in southeastern France. It is the second-largest town in the department after Valence.
In 1701, when they were coming back from Spain on horseback, Louis, Duke of Bourgogne, and Charles, Duke of Berry stopped in Montélimar. The inhabitants offered them one quintal of Nougat (equivalent to 95 lbs). The sweet’s reputation spread from this point.
In 1993, the federation for the Nougatiers applied for Nougat de Montélimar to be designated a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI). The application was granted in February 2003.
In Montélimar, there are still dozens of Nougatiers. The annual production is around 4,500 tons, and the Nougat industry employs about 300 workers.
Tourism and main attractions
The city has about ten places classified as Historical Monuments:
A must-see and first tourist site of the city with over 130,000 visitors a year, the Palace of Sweets and Nougat plunges you back into the magical world of childhood and memories;
12th century Adhémar (MH) castle, modified in the 14th and 16th centuries, with the Narbonne tower and the citadel (12th century keep);
Chapel of Notre-Dame-de-la-Ros;
The chapel is a Romanesque-style building (12th – 13th century) located near the Porte Saint-Martin. Partially destroyed at the end of the 16th century. The facade was rebuilt in the 17th century in the Baroque style, with the addition of two side chapels;
Fourteenth-century Sainte-Marguerite chapel (within the walls of the castle): cul-de-four vault with frescoes (15th century);
Former Sainte-Croix collegiate church: 15th century apse, 16th century bell tower, 11th century pietà;
Convent of the Trappistines of Maubec;
Old quarters: mullioned windows, spiral staircases, ironwork;
The so-called Diane de Poitiers house: facade, roofs, cabinet with murals (on the first floor) (IMH) from the 15th and 16th centuries;
Montelimar Aviation Museum and its collection of more than 60 combat aircrafts;
The Porte Saint-Martin (IMH) from 1763.
Festivals and events
During the summer, the Sésame Festival of Montélimar hosts many artists for concerts. Music lovers will be able to discover their favorite singer during this festival of variety music. A total of 16 free concerts are held in an exciting atmosphere. Festive evening guaranteed!
In March, you will have the opportunity to attend or participate, if you are sporting, at the Corima Drôme Provençale. This bike race brings together about 2,000 cyclists who come to compete on the roads of the Drôme.
Cuisine and best restaurants
Montélimar has been the “capital of nougat” since the 18th century. It is a confectionery made from honey and almonds, which can be coated and garnished with chocolate, dried fruits and others.
In 2003, the nougat-makers’ union successfully filed an application to obtain certification for the geographical name “nougat de Montélimar” to protect its commercial use.
There are three Michelin list restaurants in the city:
- Café de l’Ardèche, 19 avenue Charles-de-Gaulle, 21 – 70 EUR • Modern Cuisine
- Petite France, 34 impasse Raymond-Daujat, 29 – 55 EUR • Traditional Cuisine
- Le Moderne, 25 boulevard Aristide-Briand, 24 – 55 EUR • Modern Cuisine
The historic and shopping centre is completely pedestrian and the houses in the colours of Provence let you know that you have finally arrived in the south of France!
If you have the chance to stop here on a Saturday morning, the well-known weekly market takes over the arcaded market square with its cafés, the Place des Clercs and the streets of the city centre. You will find there all the emblematic products of the region: fruits, honeys, olives and olive oil, Picodon and other goat’s cheeses, fabrics…
Transport and how to get to?
The Train station of Montélimar is a hub in the French transport network enabling travellers to reach the region around Montélimar (Drôme, Auvergne-Rhône-Alps). This place provides an easy connection to other forms of road transport if necessary.
The nearest international airports are in Lyon and Marseille.
Distances by car:
From Marseille (tolls): 1 hr 45 min (167 km) via A7
From Lyon (tolls): 1 hr 44 min (149 km) via A7
From Biarritz (tolls): 6 hr 24 min (693 km) via A64 and A9
From Nantes (tolls): 8 hr 1 min (828 km) via A71
From Bordeaux (tolls): 5 hr 55 min (633 km) via A62 and A9
From Toulouse (tolls): 3 hr 43 min (391 km) via A61 and A9
From Monaco (tolls): 3 hr 21 min (346 km) via A8 and A7
From Andorra (tolls): 5 hr 32 min (518 km) via A9
Area (commune): 46.9 sq. km
Population: 39 100
Time: Central European UTC +1
GPS coordinates: 44°33′29″N 4°45′03″E