Beziers may not be the prettiest city in the South of France but there is still plenty of charm tucked away down its ancient medieval streets. Beziers is the capital of Languedoc Wine industry, the scene of a famous massacre and home to the biggest and best festival in the South of France.
Beziers tourism information
Set above the river Orb, Beziers was first founded in Roman times. The main places of interest are situated in the compact centre of Beziers old town. Here you can walk down the plane tree-lined Allees Paul Riquet, named after Beziers favourite son and builder of the Canal du Midi. The 19th Century Park (Plateau des Poetes) at the bottom end of Allees Paul Riquet is nice to stop in and have a sandwich. Les Halles, the recently refurbished indoor market (near to the town hall) is also worth a stop at. Here, amongst all the cheese stalls, butchers and fishmongers, you can get a drink and even have your recently bought food cooked for you at La Gargotte bistro bar. I will say that again in case you missed it. You can get a drink and even have your food cooked for you at La Gargotte. Unbelievable, but true!
There are a couple of interesting museums in Beziers. Musee Beaux Arts offers a collection of painting from the 17th to 19th centuries. An annexe to the Museum is housed on Rue Capus and is dedicated to a permanent exhibition in memory of Beziers' other famous son, the French Resistance hero Jean Moulin. Jean Moulin was born in Beziers and after the outbreak of the Second World War joined up with General de Gaulle. On de Gaulle's orders, Moulin travelled to France in 1943 to help establish a national resistance committee to direct the efforts of the underground against the occupying Nazis. However, he was arrested in Lyon in 1943 and later died at the hands of the Nazis. Despite intensive torture and interrogation by Klaus Barbie, Moulin never divulged any secret information and he remains reveered throughout France to this day. You are unlikely to find a Town or Village in the South of France without a street named after him
Beziers, France tourism: cathedral
Beziers cathedral (Cathedrale St Nazaire) sits on the site of famous massacre of 1209. At the time the Beziers was under siege from the troops of the Crusading army under the command of Abbot Arnaud Amaury. After refusing to hand over the Cathar heritics to the Crusaders mounted the city walls. When asked by his commanders how to determine which citizens were Cathars (quite a reasonable request) Abbot Amaury issued the famous command "Kill them all, God will know His own". The town was burnt to the ground and in a three hour bloodbath, Catholic and Cathar inhabitants alike were put to the sword. The cathedral is a great spot to view over the surrounding countryside as it is perched up high on the rocky outcrop on which the city is built. Although not much of a churches fan myself, the inside is pretty impressive. The cathedral cloisters are worth a look around as well.
Beziers airport is about 15km south east of the city centre. Ryanair fly to Beziers from London Luton and London Stansted and new service are opening up to Germany and Holland. The airport is serviced by a frequent shuttle bus to Beziers city centre (around €3.00 for the 20 minute trip).