Béziers - Facinating town with Celtic origins

Statue of Pierre-Paul Riquet on les Allées in Béziers

Béziers Skyline At right

with the Cathedral of St Nazaire standing in the centre, and to the right, the Church of Ste Madeleine.

Béziers which has been a city of passage for centuries, bids the traveller welcome. Situated on the original Herculean Way, it represents the most beautiful urban site that one may come across betwen the Alps and the Pyrenées.

The city owes its name to its ancient Celtic origins and its character to the combined influence of the Iberians, Phonicians and Phocaeans who endowed the area with vineyards, olive groves and a brilliant civilization. The Romans devastated the spot, only to rebuild it into an even more beautiful city.

History's pulsebeat marked the rhythm of ravages and reconstructions alternated with the invasions of Vandals, Goths and Moslems. The dawn of feudalism, by the re-establishing order, brought in the restoration of cities and such sanctuaries as St.Aphrodise's, in hommage to Béziers evangelizer; St Nazaire, the fortified church that rises on the very site of the temple of Augustus; St Jacques, the construction of which is traditionally credited to Charlemagne, and many others that have since vanished. The Madeleine church has been tragically famous since the 22nd of July 1209 when Simon de Montfort's men, who had come to Languedoc to crush the Catharian heresy, exterminated the entire population and reduced the city to ashes. When restored to the Crown of France, Béziers shared in the country's political and economic trials and tribulations. The year 1666 was the beginning of a prosperous era with the construction of the 'Canal du Midi' carried out by Pierre-Paul Riquet, a son of the town.

At left The statue of Pierre-Paul Riquet in the avenue which bears his name.

Another view of the statue of Pierre Paul Riquet on "Les Allées"

Béziers' skyline

View from river Orb

Agriculture and commerce enjoyed a soaring and ceaseless development.

General view of old Béziers from the river Orb At right

The city of Béziers, lively and pleasant, is only a stone's throw from the beckoning sea, and an easy drive to the nearby mountains, the road to which wends its way through pleasant sheltered valleys which Mother Nature and the hand of man have blessed with a wondrous diversity; gorges, caves grottos, forests, springs and streams where fish abound, storybook villages, Romanesque churches, derelict castles and lofty towers.

During mid- August, the local 'Féria' provides an outstandingly gay and lively festival of attractive, picturesque entertainment. More Feria photos. There are many fine restaurants to visit in the town centre and a useful little guide has been produced and is available by clicking here.

Beziers' Italian style Theatre

Lovers of art culture will revel in Béziers' Fine Arts Museum, its Folklore Museum (Musée du Vieux Biterrois), delightful theatre, and town library. Sports enthusiasts will appreciate the Stadiums, the Olympic swimming pool and the tennis courts. And for social relations, there is a vast, luxurious Convention Hall. In the Summertime, the great modern Arena is the scene of reputed bull fight spectacles; it is also the rendezvous of popular entertainers and orchestras of international class and a Festival of Opera.

At left The "Italian" style theatre that stands at the top of "Les Allées"

Rest and relaxation, basking on lonely beaches, outings and hikes amidst gorgeous natural surroundings.

Béziers holds all this in store for you, in addition to its sunshine, festivals and local wine.

Whilst in Béziers a good way to get around is by bicycle, hiring is easy, see link below.

 

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