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Stopping off in Beziers

beziers2.jpgBeziers (34 Herault, Languedoc-Roussillon) is another of those underrated French towns usually passed by on the autoroute – this time the A9 from the Rhone Valley down to the Spanish border. My principal memory is of horrendous traffic through the outskirts when trying to reach Pezenas and Chateau Belles Eaux at Caux many years ago – it all seemed a bit scruffy. But Ryanair now flies from Bristol so it could become a weekend break destination and it is close to lots of wonderful vineyards and landscape, Probably overlooked by its more glamorous neighbour to the north – Montpellier, Beziers seems more real.

Things like traffic should improve markedly from Autumn 2008 when the A75 from Clermont-Ferrand and Millau is completed with the stretch from Pezenas to join the A9 just east of Beziers. Anthony Peregrine in the Times writes of his visit:-

Up on its hill, the centre looks masterful – the gothic cathedral, especially, would be whipping the vast surrounding wine lands back into line, given half a chance. But chance hasn’t always been on Béziers‘s side. It first made big news in 1209, when papal crusaders showed up and slaughtered the population as heretics.

Subsequently, the town has grown fatter and thinner with the ups and more recent downs of the cheap-wine trade. It has played rugby, held bullfights and generally been effervescent in the Latin manner. Then it has gone back to work. Or the bar. Or welfare. So, off the lovely esplanade and main squares, many old streets have a lived-in look – lived in not by Parisian gallery-owners, but by people who are meant to live there, the ones doing washing, pushing pushchairs and hanging around clapped-out cars, wondering how the hell to get the doors back on.

It makes for engrossing wandering, once you’ve had your fill of gothic. And we’ll come back to it at the end of our drive – which you could also join, with minimal adjustments, from Montpellier.

See our map of the area
Beziers Official Tourist Office

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