Things are happening in Béziers! This hidden South of France gem has recently been polished and is now an even more pleasant town in which to spend some time. Whether you love strolling through picturesque little streets, having a glass of wine at one of the many terraces or indulging your curiosity for French history: it’s all here. Let me guide you through one of the oldest cities in France. I warn you, this list is just the beginning… There is so much more to discover!
Place Jean Jaurès
The starting point of my walk through Béziers is La Place Jean Jaurès, which had a complete makeover in 2018. This big square is now a beautiful and spacious place where people come to flaunt. It’s also the meeting point for kids to cool down and play in the fountain, which consists of 50 little spurts of water that pop up unexpectedly to increase the fun. When the Summer nights fall, it gets even cooler with colourful lights and a music fountain show. All this under the watchful eye of Pierre-Paul Riquet’s statue.
Les Allées Paul Riquet
La Place Jean Jaurès automatically leads me to Les Allées Paul Riquet. Born in Béziers, Pierre-Paul Riquet was the creator of the 240 kilometres long waterway of the Canal du Midi that connects the Mediterranean Sea with Toulouse. On one end you will find a 32 meter high Ferris wheel and on the other side proudly stands Béziers’ Municipal Theatre. If you walk to the back of the theatre, you can spot one of the city’s amazing trompe-l’oeils.
Place de la Madeleine
On to La Place de la Madeleine. This square was named after the Romanesque Madeleine Church, mentioned for the first time in 1092. The building on the left with the restaurants is one of the most picturesque images of Béziers if you ask me. It’s hard to believe that this peaceful square once was the scene of the bloodiest episode in Bézier’s history. In 1209, crusaders of the Albigensian crusade brutally massacred thousands and thousands of inhabitants of the town. Men, women and children had come to the church to seek refuge, but instead of being protected, they were burned to death. The scars of this awful event are still visible to this day.
Les Halles de Béziers
Another place in Béziers that has had a makeover is Les Halles. This covered market still has its original cast-iron building in Baltard style and dates from 1891. Open from Tuesday to Sunday (so closed on Mondays), and from 07h00 to 13h30, this is a fantastic place to find loads of local produce. It isn’t as big as Les Halles in Narbonne, but you can still find an excellent selection of seafood, cheeses, meat and vegetables. There are several restaurants in and around Les Halles, so it also makes a great stop for lunch. A few of my favourites are ‘Hallegria’ and ‘La Gargote des Halles’ inside the market and ‘Le Massilia’ just outside.
One of Béziers’ landmarks is the Saint-Nazaire Cathedral. As Béziers sits on a rocky spur, you can already see the cathedral from afar. Like so many other monuments, the Saint-Nazaire Cathedral has known rough times as well. Dating from the 10th century, it was heavily damaged during the 12th-century crusade. My little city guide of Béziers ends here, at the terrace in front of the cathedral, gazing over the great Orb plain as far as the Haut-Languedoc Regional National Park. However, as I mentioned earlier, there is a lot more to discover in bustling Béziers. Check this link to read more of my posts about this surprising town. From the Nine Locks of Fonseranes to a Summer night in Béziers and from the best restaurants to some great hotels, you will find it all here. And more will follow!