A stunning chip from the full-back gave the visitors the edge, but the home team fought back in a match that saw two red cards
Despite Mamadou Sakho being dismissed with barely 10 minutes played, PSG opened the scoring in glorious fashion thanks to Maxwell's deft chip.
After a bright start, Montpellier struggled to find their rhythm, though Remy Cabella drove them level with a fizzing shot. Younes Belhanda was then shown a second yellow card shortly afterwards for deliberate handball.
Without Zlatan Ibrahimovic due to suspension, this encounter promised to be a real examination of Carlo Ancelotti’s side, though they made life difficult for themselves when Sakho was sent off following a foul on Gaetan Charbonnier, having been played into trouble by Marco Verratti.
Although the hosts boasted a numerical advantage, much of their play was laboured, and on the counterattack the capital side manage to grab the lead with a rare meaningful attack. It was a move built from the back, fashioned by Jeremy Menez and then finished in the cutest of styles as Maxwell lifted a cheeky shot into the net.
Before the break les Parisiens might even have added a second, but Menez’s shot from a tight angle was well blocked by Geoffrey Jourdren.
In the second-half Montpellier became more positive in their play, as Cabella started to gain a stranglehold on the game and the attacking midfielder levelled with a fine low shot into the corner after Blaise Matuidi had surrendered possession.
For a brief period it seemed that the home side had come alive, as Anthony Mounier went close, but when Belhanda departed following a needless handball the game was suddenly back in the balance.
PSG immediately became more active as an attacking force, and Menez was at the forefront of their efforts once again, as he was denied by Jourdren.
They certainly did not have the closing stages all their own way as it took a heroic block from Alex to deny Cabella what appeared set to be a second goal, while a stoppage-time shot from Emmanuel Herrara drew a good save from Salvatore Sirigu.
Although the capital side failed to win the match, they will regard this result as a positive one given they played the vast majority of the fixture with 10 men. They regain top spot in Le Championnat on goal difference; a position that Montpellier can only reminisce about in what has been a shambolic defence of their title.