Béziers, France

My IWSG post is here.

B

L’Église Curé d’Ars.

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Cathédrale Saint-Nazaire at Pont Vieux, Copyright Peter Haas/CC-BY-SA-3.0.

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Pont Vieux, Copyright Profburp.

Plateau de Poètes.

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Fonseranes Water Slope of the Canal du Midi, Copyright Dedounet at fr.wikipedia, CC-BY-SA; CC-BY-SA-1.0.

Béziers, a member of the Most Ancient European Towns Network, is a city of about 72,000 in Southern France, overlooking the River Orb and about 6.2 miles from the Mediterranean Sea. It dates back to at least 575 BCE, making it one of France’s oldest cities. The area itself has been occupied since the Stone Age. Béziers citizens are called Biterrois, based on the city’s Roman name Baeterrae.

My hiatused WIP The Strongest Branches of Uprooted Trees, the story of eleven young people in the early post-WWII years, will be primarily set on a strawberry farm in Béziers. The setting moves to Béziers in December 1945, after chapters in Germany, Hungary, Italy, Paris, and Nantes (plus the flashback Part II in Poland and Germany). Apart from some outings to Paris, the setting pretty much stays in Béziers for the remainder of the book.

The religious movement of Catharism flourished in Béziers during the Middle Ages. However, since they were viewed as heretics by the Church, Pope Innocent III launched the Albigensian Crusade in 1209 to weed them out. The army reached Béziers on 21 July 1209 and asked the Catholics to identify themselves to avoid being massacred. To their credit, the city’s Catholics refused, and the Cathars also refused to surrender.

A horrific bloodbath followed, during which the city was sacked and burnt to the ground, and Catholics and Cathars alike massacred. The butchers didn’t even respect the rule of sanctuary, and burnt churches and murdered priests whom the Cathars ran to for shelter. Among the churches burnt was the Cathédrale Saint-Nazaire, which collapsed on those seeking shelter inside. No one survived, though the cathedral began being restored in 1215, from some parts which had escaped destruction.

The city is home to butchery of a different type in the modern era. Every August, they host a five-day bullfighting event which millions attend. The bullfighting is done in an arena built in 1905.

Though it’s not as well-known as Paris or Lyon, Béziers still has plenty of museums, old churches, old ruins, Medieval architecture, theatres, and parks. Much of its income comes from winemaking. A number of Medieval rabbis also lived in or visited the city.

More information:

http://www.ville-beziers.fr/

http://www.sunnyfrance.net/histoiredebeziers/index_UK.htm

http://beziers-info.com/

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19 thoughts on “Béziers, France

  1. Pingback: Happy birthday, Jaap (and A to Z Reflections Post) « Welcome to My Magick Theatre

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