Vermont’s  state capital was founded in the last days of the Revolutionary War, at a time when the intercession of the French Navy in the war effort was creating a rage for all things French. (Neighboring Calais, founded the same day, was similarly given a Francophone name.) The fact that Montpelier became the capital of the state in 1804 was probably more an accident of geography than anything else. The big cities of Bennington , Burlington , Rutland , and the like were all vying for the brass ring themselves; each eventually agreed it was better to give the government to a town in the center of the state than let any of its rivals get it.
From such tenuous beginnings, Montpelier thrived during the 19th century, mostly on the strength of the granite trade. Its downtown today is a uniform district of brick Federal-style mansions and gingerbread Victorians clustered around the shining gold dome of the Vermont State House . Vermont’s independent streak is on full display here—with dozens of locally owned businesses and nary a McDonald’s in sight.
Montpelier’s natural beauty and educated populace have led to a creative renaissance in recent years, with art galleries  and artsy cafés moving into the downtown historical area. Despite such “urban sophistication,” however, ski runs  and sugar houses  are still just a few minutes away.