Now that I live in the centre of Béziers, I have plenty of time to visit some of my favourite shops. And discover new ones! One positive thing about the Polygone shopping mall on the city’s outskirts is that the historic heart is free from commercial shopping chains. This means that you will find lots of unique independent boutiques here. Below, you will find 10 of my personal favourites, in the order of my shopping route. Although I’m sure you will end up adding more to your own list.
1. L’Atelier de l’Empreinte – 5 Rue Viennet
If you’re from out of town, you can park your car for free at the new Pont Vieux parking lot. From the Old Bridge, you can follow a path- including three elevators- that brings you all the way up to the cathedral. From there, the picturesque Rue Viennet brings you to the square in front of the town hall. At number five Rue Viennet, Géraldine Garçon opened her Atelier de l’Empreinte (open mostly during the weekends or on demand, don’t hesitate to call her). It’s a wonderful studio/shop where she shows her illustrations, aquarelle paintings and etches, as well as the work of photographer Daniel Mielniczek. It’s also possible to do a printing workshop with Géraldine; check the website for contact details.
2. La Selection – 11 Rue des Anciens Combattants
Via the Place du Forum, and perhaps a drink at the café of the same name, I head to Rue des Anciens Combattants for a sniff of inspiration at La Selection. This furniture, lighting, tableware and accessories store is housed in a gorgeous historical building- pay attention to the striking tiles surrounding the big window and the wooden ceiling. The cool mix of new brands from all over the world makes my wish list grow a little bit bigger after every visit. But then, if it just stays on my wishlist, Chéri need not worry.
3. Architruc & Baltaz’art – 5 Rue Montmorency & 28 Rue de la Citadelle
On to Rue de la Citadelle to have a peek at another interior and exterior design store: Architruc & Baltaz’art. The Rue de la Citadelle shop is the baby sister of the one on the Rue Montmorency, with mainly accessories, gifts and small furniture. Rue Montmorency is a side street of Rue de la Citadelle, and it’s worth checking out the main shop as well. They have more space, inside and outside, and sell contemporary furniture by well-known design labels such as Kartell and Fermob, supplemented with original and very desirable accessories.
4. Les Bêtises de Malie – 33 Rue de la Citadelle
Although you might think this toy store is just for kids, Les Bêtises de Malie calls itself a family concept store. Therefore, everybody- from 0 to 99 years- is welcome. Their shop window always looks so bright and colourful, with the most adorable stuffed animals and cute backpacks. You will find gifts in every price range, from decorative objects, balance bikes without pedals, soft blankets and a lot more… I couldn’t resist the cutest Miffy piggy bank (thanks to my Dutch roots), which I bought for my 9-year-old niece. I think I might have to go back to get myself one as well. Luckily, I’m not over 99 years old yet!
5. Zabeh – 4 Rue du 4 Septembre
Rue de la Citadelle opens onto the Place Jean Jaurès. Taking a left, I head towards the Allées Paul Riquet, where I take another left to go to one of my favourite shopping streets. Rue du 4 Septembre is a bustling street full of charming shops, including a fair amount of women’s wear. I will point out a few, but there are many beautiful and one-of-a-kind boutiques with something for all wallets and tastes. The first one is women’s clothing boutique Zabeh. Crossing the threshold is like stepping into a modernised 18th-century living room full of frivolous and glamorous objects. The fact is that Zabeh sets great care in displaying the products she sells. The shop window changes regularly, and it’s always a surprise which outfits deserve to be in the spotlight. Inside, you will find joyfully styled corners that add to this ‘boudoir de l’ange’ ambience.
6. L’Appartement – 8 Rue du 4 Septembre
A bit further down the same street is concept store L’Appartement, with clothes for both women and men. But there is more, as they also have beautiful bags, jewellery, homeware, and scarves, to name but a few. And many of these accessories are ‘made in France’, from the leather keychains with personal messages to transparent soap bars hiding a Playmobil doll (so kids learn to wash their hands). It’s the perfect stop for an original gift and update your wardrobe at the same time if you ask me!
7. Bohema Vintage Fasion – 16 Rue Mairan
From the Rue du 4 Septembre, you can take a right to the Rue Mairan. Part of this street, and the sidestreet Rue de la Coquille, are kind of the antiques and secondhand streets of Béziers. Nothing like Pézenas, but you will find several shops of that type in this part of town. The one that stands out to me is Bohema Vintage Fashion on the corner of Rue Mairan and Rue de la Coquille. Not only because high-quality, nostalgic treasures are exposed on the streets around this corner shop. But also because owners Magda and Christophe have a true passion for vintage items- fashion and furniture- from the 30s to the 70s.
8. Patines & Porcelaine – 5 Rue de la République
Another excellent shop for interior design is Patines & Porcelaine on the Rue de la République. Their focus is on tableware, textiles, accessories and lights, but they also sell some furniture. Every time I pay a visit, I discover something new. Most of the time, I just glance at the shop window, otherwise my wishlist will grow bigger and bigger. But sometimes, I crack and take a look inside, all the way to the back, where inspirational setups give me plenty of new ideas.
9. L’Affineur – 16 Rue du Chapeau Rouge
The minute you step into L’Affineur, you’re in cheese heaven. As a cheese lover myself, it always takes me ages to buy cheese. L’Affineur helps explain the difference in his wide selection of different types of cheese. To make the choice more complicated, some cheeses are sold in their various stages of ripening. This process is done on the spot in the 1,000 years old cave below the shop. Choices, choices! If you are really having trouble picking which cheese to buy or are curious by nature, you can try a cheese tasting. Ask to purchase a few different pieces of cheese, and then you can savour them in the shop, accompanied by some freshly baked bread and a good glass of local wine. It might make your choice easier. Or not.
10. Les Caprices de CahSy – 2 Rue de l’Argenterie
My shopping tour ends with a touch of freshness back at the Place du Forum again. With a background in the pharmaceutical industry, Catherine (the Cah in the shop’s name) and Sylvette (Sy, as you might have guessed) wanted to change careers. You could say with a 180-degree turn, as now they make homemade, artisanal ice cream. At Les Caprices de Cahsy, the women combine their creativity and social skills with manual work. With great success, as they have found the formula for the best ice cream in town. The flavours change regularly, however the bestsellers remain on the menu. And if you’re adventurous, you can try the ‘surprise’ flavour. It’s up to you to guess the ingredients.