Béziers is a city in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France. The city shows signs of Neolithic occupation, but the first recorded settlement was the Roman town of Baeterrae (founded around 35BCE). Today, Béziers is a regional centre of winemaking, and a good place to base yourself when exploring the southern Languedoc region.
Béziers is in an Occitan-speaking region, and street signs and other official markers are often printed in both French and Occitan. Occitan text is usually marked with a small red and gold cross, though it is often similar to standard French. While most customer service people will speak some English, this is not universal.
Ryanair flies to Béziers-Cap d'Agde from Bristol, London (Luton), Düsseldorf (Weeze) and Stockholm (Skavsta). You can reach Béziers within an hour from Montpellier, Carcassonne and Perpignan airports. Intercity and TGV trains run to Béziers from Paris Gare de Lyon. It is also possible to go to Barcelona by train. In 2010 a direct autoroute (Autoroute A75) linked Béziers to Paris.
Everything in Béziers is within walking distance, but bear in mind that most of the city is built on a slope. The walk from the train station to the town centre is quite steep. There is an excellent local bus service that puts all local towns and villages within easy reach. Try the free "Navette" shuttle bus that takes visitors from the railway and bus stations to the centre of town.
The Saint Nazaire Cathedral was built in the 13th century and was a major staging point for the Crusades. Stunning views of the Orb valley and the surrounding area are available from the cathedral courtyard - especially at sunset.
Béziers Old Town offers the walker a warren of largely early medieval streets, extending from the Cathedral to the town centre. The old streets just off the main avenue feature both traditional shops and designer fashion houses.
The Canal du Midi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, passes through Béziers. The canal was the creation of Paul Riquet. In the 17th century he completed the dream of joining the Mediterranean and the Atlantic ocean by a waterway.
Avenue Paul De Riquet is the place to be seen, sit and drink coffee and watch the world go by.
Béziers has a number of small museums that focus on the town and its surroundings. The largest is the Musée de Biterrois, which includes historical and archaeological artefacts from the region. Espace Taurin is a specialist collection with memorabilia and artefacts related to the annual bullfighting festival.
Béziers is famous for its annual "Feria", a bullfighting festival. This five-day party draws thousand of visitors to the town at the start of August.
A beach bus runs to the sea at nearby Valras Plage every 20 mins. Journey time 30 mins. Sérignan Plage is harder to get to, but is often less crowded than Valras.
The Oppidum d'Ensèrune, a Romano-Gallic hill fort , is a short drive from Béziers outside the village of Nissan-les-Ensèrune. Ensèrune features exposed archaeological structures, including hillside apartments, a work area, several cisterns, and a burial area. It is an active excavation site and sometimes visitors can see archaeologists working. The onsite museum is antiquated in presentation but has a comprehensive collection of grave goods. Also see l'Étang de Montady (the swamp of Montady), a wetland drained in the 13th century using a unique star-shaped drainage pattern, at the base of the hill.
Béziers is in the middle of the Languedoc-Roussillon wine region. It is surrounded by vineyards, many of which will be happy to give you a tour and a tasting. One such is the Cave Coopérative Les Vignerons de Sérignan (Sérignan Winemakers' Cooperative), located in Sérignan, only a few miles away. The winery offers a cellar tour and factory shop. Decent reds and whites from several appellations can be had for 5-15 euros.
Les Halles, a covered market at the end of the Rue Republique, offers a wide variety of fresh local foods. (Closed Mondays)
Béziers is full of places to eat. In the town centre, a good choice is southeast along the Allée Paul Riquet. There are a number of sidewalk bars and cafes that serve on the square, offering regional specialities and standard French fare. Le Cristal has particularly good moules Provençal. This is also a good place to buy food for self-catering or a picnic, with a Monoprix on the corner of the Rue Solferino and several small shops and kiosks selling seafood, sweets, and other edibles. A carousel at one end and occasional market vendors makes this square a fun place to people-watch while you walk off your meal.
Cafe La Comedie (26 Allée Paul Riquet) is perhaps the oldest bar in town. Locals take the morning sun at the Cafe du Marche, next to Les Halles. The Bar Chez L (Ave Clemenceau) faces the bus station and offers a reasonably priced lunch. The Korrigan Pub (7 Rue Paul Riquet) offers live music and a variety of beers.
- Maison d l'Orb. A new designer guest house.
- Appart'City Béziers, a reasonably priced and clean self-catering accommodation near the city centre.
- Hotel des Poetes, 80 Allées Paul Riquet (If relatively unencumbered, simply walk up the left side of the park opposite the station.), ☎ +33 467 763 866. Simple but pleasant enough rooms with wifi in a restored old building facing the park. 50-70€.