Beziers, Herault: tourism & sightseeing
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Beziers is in the Hérault department of Languedoc-Roussillon between Narbonne and Montpellier. It is an attractive town which rises up a hill from the many spanned old stone bridge across the River Orb, towards the Saint-Nazaire cathedral above the town.
Beziers is at the centre of the largest wine-producing region in France and is famous for both its wine and its bullfights.
History of Beziers
The town fortunes have changed dramatically at regular points in history. Beziers was a Roman colony in 36BC and an important point on the route from Rome to Madrid. In 1209 the town was burnt down and its 20,000 inhabitants put to death in the Catholic crusade against the Cathars.
In the nineteenth century the town had its heyday with the growth in the regions wine industry. Fortunes have declined again since then (see history of Beziers for details) but Beziers remains a lovely town and a good base for visiting the Herault region.
Beziers is now classified as a protected Historic Town in France.
The main thing to do in Beziers is simply to wander through the old streets, admiring the architecture, browsing in the shops and stopping at a café to watch the world go by. As you explore you will discover several sights and places of interest.
To make sure you see as many of the sights of interest as possible as possible first go to the tourist office where you can pick up a tourist leaflet offering four different walking routes covering the main sights of the town. You can choose from:
- Between Romanesque and Gothic - see the cathedral and cloister, the town’s churches and chapel and St Aphrodise’s basilica.
- Beziers Over the Centuries - passes along the winding streets of the old city of Beziers and some of its historical monuments.
- The Golden Age of the 19th Century - explores the public and private buildings built during the 19th century
- A Stroll through the Gardens - wander through a selection of English style landscaped gardens and formal French-style gardens.
Important religious monuments
Saint Nazaire Cathedral dominates the view of Beziers from below. It was built in the 12-15th centuries and has quite an unusual appearance. It is quite stark from some angles and has some interesting castle-like towers. It also has a lovely 14th century cloister and a pretty ‘Bishop’s Garden’ with great views over the valley below.
North-east of the cathedral in Place de la Madeleine is the Eglise Saint Madeleine (St Madeleine’s Church). As the town of Beziers fell to the Albigeois Crusaders the Catholics in the town, who had remained to fight off the crusade along with the Cathars, fled into the church. However the crusaders showed no mercy even to their fellow Catholics and torched the church and burnt all within.
The Church of Saint-Jacques is an attractive roman style church dating in part from the 12th century. While the church itself is interesting it is the views across the town and down to the river and bridge from the terrace that are the main highlight of the church.
Another important church in Beziers is the Saint Aphrodise Basilica which is built on the tomb of the town’s patron saint who arrived on a camel from Egypt.
Outside the medieval streets one of the main streets in the town is the Allées Paul Riquet which is a long esplanade, shaded by trees, lined with shops and cafes and filled with a variety of street art such as living statues (rather like the Ramblas in Barcelona).
At one end of the Allées is the 19th century theatre and at the other the lovely garden, the Plateau des Poetes.
Museums and Art Galleries in Beziers
There are four museums...
Le Musee des Beaux Arts (Hotel Fabregat): a collection of paintings including works by Decamps, Degas and Rodin
Le Musee des Beaux Arts (Hotel Fayet): a collection of sculptures by local artist Jean-Antoine Injalbert. There is a very pleasant internal courtyard where you can listen to concerts and theatre productions.
Le Musee du Biterrois: a museum with artefacts ranging from prehistoric to nowadays.
Le Museum d’Histoire Naturelle: diverse collections of natural history.
and two art galleries in Beziers
Espace Taurin: dedicated to bull fighting including some works by Goya
Espace Riquet: an ancient convent which is now a contemporary art museum.
Near the town is the Fonseranes Canal Lock, a succession of seven locks allowing boats to manoeuvre a 21 meter level change. This lock is the most remarkable on the Canal du Midi.
The Museum and archaeological site at Enserune gives an interesting insight into life in the region dating back more than 2500 years.
Further afield the destinations are quite different in character depending which direction you travel: to the north the attractive countryside is interspersed with charming small towns such as Roquebrun; to the south and east along the coast you have seaside resorts, with the most visited being Cap d'Agde; and to the west you can explore the historic centre of Narbonne.
Photos of Beziers
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Map of Beziers and places nearby
Visit near Beziers with France This Way reviews
... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Herault
Beziers is classified as a historical protected town centre' (secteur sauvegardé)
Address: Béziers, Languedoc-Roussillon, 34500, France || GPS: latitude 43.3476, longitude 3.21899
Plan your visit to Beziers, Herault
Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby
- Enserune: national monument (9 km)
- Jardin des carrières de Saint-Adrien: remarkable garden (11 km)
- Parc et jardin du château de Margon: remarkable garden (17 km)
- Gouffre de l'Œil Doux: site of natural beauty (17 km)
- Pezenas: recommended detour (21 km)
- Narbonnaise en Méditerranée: regional natural parc (25 km)
- Narbonne: secteur sauvegarde (25 km)
- Etangs du Bagnas: site of natural beauty (25 km)
- Céressou: site of natural beauty (26 km)
- Olargues: most beautiful village (34 km)
- Mont Caroux: site of natural beauty (34 km)
- Forêt de Fontfroide: site of natural beauty (37 km)
The French version of this page is at Beziers (Francais)