The birthplace of Pierre-Paul Riquet, founder of the Canal du Midi, Béziers combines its age-old architecture with the beauty of the Orb, Hérault's emblematic river. A majestic monument, cherished by architecture-lovers, towers over its waters: the Cathedral of St. Nazarius, built in the 13th century. This Gothic fortress dominating the city is uniquely original. You could be forgiven for thinking you were visiting a castle! And yet the machicolations above the rose window, and the arrowslits beside the towers and turrets are only a decoy: this display was a way for the Catholic faith to assert its dominance over the Cathar heresy. Other original features await visitors inside. The carved wooden doors set in recesses in the stone are also a kind of optical illusion. They are actually never opened because of the wind, which could sweep away anything in its path.
To admire a breathtaking view of the whole of Béziers, head to the Bishop's Palace Garden (Jardin de l'Évêché) downhill from the cathedral. There you can enjoy a unique view over the Orb Plain and the city's bridges, which seem to spring from the ground. Take a stroll in the city centre along its cobbled, narrow streets. You will probably come across other treasures hidden between the old buildings, like the statue of Pépézuc, a mythical Béziers figure said to have saved the city from invaders during the Hundred Years War. Another curiosity: Béziers' old Roman arena. Unlike its counterpart in Nîmes, it is inhabited by locals. Above the ruins stand colourful residential buildings, a wonderful blend of past and present. However, visits must be arranged in advance as you cannot go in and out freely.
To get away from the urban hustle and bustle, take a trip to Béziers' old cemetery, which has echoes of Père-Lachaise in Paris. You can walk among the sculptures, cypress trees and graves, some of which are seemingly vying to be the most eccentric: unusual typography, elegant statues and other wonders adorn the stone.
Lastly, a trip to Béziers would not be complete without a visit to the legendary Allées Paul-Riquet, a pleasant avenue lined with plane trees, shops and lively café terraces.
Béziers, a real history book...
6500 BC: During the digging of the northern ring road of the city, remains have been discovered, the study of which proves that the history and the settlement of Béziers, at the foot of the hill Saint Nazaire, Began 6500 years ago.
The Roman occupation: The city was founded by the Greeks in the 6th century BC Then comes the Roman empire: Béziers, stronghold, is connected to Narbonne by the Domitian Way. Around the city of "Biterre", grows the cultivation of the vine and the olive tree, the forests of oaks are cleared. This "Gallo-Roman" floret was then invaded by the Visigoths, who ransomed the country and settled there.
Oh, but it's Charles Martel! If Charles Martel repulsed the Saracens in Poitiers in 732, he also conquered and occupied Béziers, in 737 (destroying in passing the Roman amphitheater), while he was completing "to escort" the Arab army towards the other Side of the Pyrenees...
The Crusade against the Cathars: "Kill all, God will recognize his own". These few words of a legate of the Pope of Rome give free rein to the "grande boucherie", of 22 July 1209. A "gran mazel" as they say in Occitan. The Albigensian crusade, against the "Cathar heresy", is thus translated by the bag, the burning of Béziers and the massacre of its population. The army of the king of France and of Rome will then forty years to complete this war of pillage, of burning piles.
Troubadours and commune: Béziers is one of the first cities of the south to obtain its communal charter: it is administered by consuls, who exercise their power on the site of the old Roman forum, city Hall. Béziers also very quickly espouses the culture of the troubadours. Here they are named Matfre Ermengaud, Azalaïs de Portiragnes... This sweetness of life, this cultural development, do not resist the invasions, famines, epidemics of the fourteenth century.
The Canal du Midi: to Pierre-Paul Riquet, France grateful. Pierre-Paul Riquet was born in Béziers in 1609. He designed and imagined the Canal du Midi, then obtained permission from Louis XIV to build it. Car Riquet found the solution - which the Romans were already looking for - to supply this canal permanently with water. By linking the Garonne (thus the Atlantic), to the Mediterranean, it ensures, develops and secures trade between the two seas. It follows a period of great prosperity of Béziers.
Fortunes viticoles and southern splendors: The most splendid period of the Biterroise history is in the XIXe century. The rise of industry, car and commerce opened the national and world wine market to the local vineyard. This provides work for thousands of people, resulting in unprecedented population growth. Thanks to the wine, colossal fortunes are created, the "châteaux pinardiers" flourish in the vineyards of Béziers. The Compagnie des Chemins de Fer du Midi developed, the Alleys Paul Riquet, the Plateau des Poètes, the theater, the arenas (where Camille Saint-Saëns and Gabriel Fauré gave sumptuous performances). This opulence ends at the very beginning of the twentieth century. To the point that in 1907 the vine growers revolt, Clemenceau represses them to say the least severely.
Jean Moulin, the honor of France: The defeat of 1940 and the German occupation are a wound to the shameful pride of the Biterrois. It is from a house in the Champs de Mars, where it is born, that the great air of revolt rises. Jean Moulin, prefect by vocation, biterrois by birth, democrat and free by conviction, became the hero of the French Resistance. He coordinates it at the height of the Occupation. Before being betrayed, arrested, martyred. And to die in the train that takes him in deportation...
Béziers today... It is a city of almost 73 000 inhabitants, the heart of a community of agglomeration which counts 107 000. Installed in the middle of a region eminently tourist, where it finds its own place, Béziers traces its own path to the future: university development, diversification of the economic fabric, multiplication of access infrastructures (A9, A75, TGV to Spain...).
Feria de Béziers the weekend of August 15.
Exposition - "en Avant ! Souvenirs de Frédéric Prat"
- From 16 september to 15 december 2023
- Rampe du 96ème Régiment d'Infanterie
- Playwright, artist and poet, Frédéric Prat's life story is as inspiring as it is dramatic. Enlisted at the start of the First World War, he died at the front on the eve of his 20th birthday, leaving behind several plays, a library of drawings and dozens of poems. To pay tribute to this man from Béziers, the exhibition organized by the Archives Municipales de Béziers highlights the artist's compositions, as well as his personal and family archives. - Free admission - Please report to the Archives Municipales reception desk.
Appel à Projet - Choristes Pour Carmina Burana - sur Inscription
- From 16 november to 15 december 2023
- 3 Rue de Sétif
- Want to take part in carmina burana ? - join the 300 choristers from the Agglomération Béziers Méditerranée accompanied by the Grand Orchestre Symphonique Béziers Méditerranée. The only condition : you must have been a member of a choir for several years and attend 1 rehearsal a month from January 2024. - Information and registration before December 15 by telephone or e-mail.
Exposition Anne Lavergne
- From 22 november to 31 december 2023
- 12 Rue Montmorency
- A graduate of Arts Décoratifs Nissim de Camondo Paris, Anne Lavergne has built her reputation as a watercolorist through numerous exhibitions in Cayenne and Kourou. After five years in French Guiana, her watercolors bear witness to a bygone era, with themes of Creole houses and Guyanese traditions. Anne Lavergne's bright, expressive acrylics immediately catch the eye. Her attention to detail makes her watercolors and acrylics well-balanced, thoughtful compositions. They are graphic, balanced and feature a warm, soft palette.
La Fontaine Musicale de Noël
- From 25 november 2023 to 7 january 2024
- Place Jean Jaurès
- For the festive season, come and enjoy the magical spectacle of the musical fountain on Place Jean Jaurès in the heart of the city ! A performance combining sound, light and jets of water, sure to amaze young and old alike. - A real aquatic fireworks display.
Marché de Noël de Béziers
- From 25 november 2023 to 7 january 2024
- Allées Paul Riquet
- Nearly thirty exhibitors and craftsmen await you at the Béziers Christmas Market ! - Catering available on site. Musical entertainment every Friday and Saturday. - Musical entertainment program : - - Saturday, November 25,7-10pm - Mel & Co Trio - - Friday, December 1,7-10pm - Duo Non Stop Patrice & Denis - - Saturday, December 2 from 7pm to 10pm - Duo Nolika - - Friday, December 8,7-10pm - Duo Mike Tyler and Laurent Bernadac - - Saturday, December 9,7-10pm - Trio Doris, Maëlys, François Sax - - Friday, December 15,7pm to 10pm - Sunshine Sisters Trio - - Saturday, December 16,7pm to 10pm - Duo Or&Yan - - Friday, December 22 from 7pm to 10pm - Duo Cécilia Cols & Michel Crosio - - Saturday, December 23 from 7pm to 10pm - Trio Lumen - - Friday, December 29,7pm to 10pm - Duo Dounia Arssi & Michel Crosio - - Saturday, December 30,7pm to 10pm - Duo Les Coralines - - Saturday, January 6,7-10pm - Duo Al & Den
Illuminations de Noël
- From 26 november 2023 to 7 january 2024
- Place Jean Jaurès
- For the enjoyment of young and old alike, take a stroll through the brightly-lit, never-before-seen Christmas decorations ! - Free admission.
Exposition - Saudade - art Brésilien
- From 30 november 2023 to 28 february 2024
- 31 Rue du 4 Septembre
- Etymologically, saudade comes from the Latin "solitas" and expresses a complex emotion. Blending nostalgia, melancholy and hope, the word's first appearance dates back to 1200, in the ballads of Portuguese troubadours. - The exhibition opening takes place on Thursday, November 30 at 6pm. - Free admission.
La Chasse au Lutin Farceur de Noël
- From 1 to 24 december 2023
- Diverses rues du Centre-Ville de Béziers
- Like an Advent calendar, find the prankster leprechaun to win Biterrois Francs ! - Each day, a store in the town center will display the prankster in its window. - Once found, go to the Tourist Office opposite the Town Hall to win your bag of Biterrois Francs ! - Please note : the winner of the day will be the first to visit the Tourist Office in person. - One entry per person.
Le Petit Train de Noël
- From 2 to 30 december 2023
- Dans la ville
- Discover the city in a fun way with the Little Christmas Train ! - Departure points are : Polygone, Galeries Lafayette, Office de Tourisme, Place du 14 Juillet.
Creche Traditionnelle de Noel
- From 3 december 2023 to 7 january 2024
- Place Gabriel Péri
- Come and discover the traditional Christmas crib. - Free entrance.