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Beziers coat of arms
Béziers (France)
region Occitania
Department Herault
Arrondissement Béziers ( sub-prefecture )
Canton Béziers-1 , Béziers-2 , Béziers-3
Community association Béziers Méditerranée
Coordinates 43 ° 21 '  N , 3 ° 13'  E Coordinates: 43 ° 21 '  N , 3 ° 13'  E
height 4–120 m
surface 95.48 km 2
Residents 77,177 (January 1, 2017)
Population density 808 inhabitants / km 2
Post Code 34500
INSEE code
Website Ville Beziers

Cathédrale Saint-Nazaire and Pont Vieux

Béziers is a town in the south of France and a municipality with 77,177 inhabitants (as of January 1, 2017) in the Hérault department in the Occitanie region .

Location and climate

Béziers is located on the Orb River and the Canal du Midi . The southern French city is 14 km from the Mediterranean Sea; it is not far from the southern foothills of the Massif Central in the coastal plain of southwest Languedoc . The climate is generally mild to warm; Rain (approx. 650 mm / year) falls over the year with the exception of the summer months.

Population development

year 1800 1851 1901 1954 1999 2017
Residents 14,535 19,333 52,310 64,929 69,153 77,177
Sources: Cassini and INSEE

As a result of the phylloxera crisis in viticulture, the mechanization of agriculture , the abandonment of small farms and the resulting lower demand for labor in the surrounding communities, the city's population has grown continuously since the beginning of the 20th century due to immigration; there were also immigrants from the Maghreb states .


Cathédrale Saint-Nazaire
Pont Vieux and Cathédrale Saint-Nazaire
View from Béziers to the Orb river


The area of ​​today's Béziers was built no later than 750–650 BC. Settled; it is therefore a very old city in Gaul . The Latin poet Avienus , who lived in the 4th century AD, testifies that the pre-Roman name of the place was Besara . First inhabited by Iberians , the settlement became more and more popular around the middle of the 3rd century BC. ; Chr. occupied by the Celtic tribe of the Volcae , which invaded Gaul at about this time , to whose oppida they have belonged ever since.

From around 119 BC The place belonged as Baeterrae (also called Biterrae or Civitas Biterrensium ) to the Roman province of Gallia Narbonensis . Octavian built Baeterrae on the Via Domitia , which connects Italy with Spain, in 36/35 BC. To a Roman colony , which was named Colonia Urbs Iulia Septimanorum Baeterrae . The part of the name Septimanorum refers to the fact that the colony was populated with veterans from the 7th Legion of Caesar . According to inscriptions, the colonists were assigned to the tribus Pupinia . Under Emperor Augustus, as Octavian had been doing since 27 BC. Called BC, Baeterrae enjoyed significant growth and prospered throughout the early imperial period . It owed its prosperity, among other things, to the lucrative agriculture of its rich surroundings, the proximity of the ports of Narbo (now Narbonne ) and Agatha (now Agde ) as well as trade. According to Pliny the Elder, there was good wine in the vicinity of the city .

In the year 276 AD, Germanic tribes devastated the city, which was then re-fortified. An administrative reform of Emperor Diocletian gave rise to the province of Narbonensis I , which had emerged from the division of the former province of Gallia Narbonensis . About a century after the arrival of the Christian faith in the city, the first synod took place here in AD 356; it was directed against the Arians . There were bishops of Béziers from the 5th century until 1790 or 1801.

Vandals looted Béziers around 409; a few years later (around 413) the Visigoths took it over at the same time as Narbonne and kept it until the fall of their empire.

middle Ages

Around 720 it fell into the hands of the Saracens , who maintained their position there until 733. The Franks under Karl Martell conquered and destroyed the city so that the Moors could not establish themselves in it again. It was rebuilt, however, and in 752 Pippin seized it and the entire province of Septimania .

The vice-county of Béziers, which had existed since the 8th century, was subordinate to the county of Toulouse in the 10th century and to the counts and vice counts of Carcassonne in the 11th and 12th centuries . In the 12th century, representatives of the important noble family of Trencavel from southwest France were not only the vice counts (vicomtes) of Béziers and Carcassonne, but also of Albi , Nîmes and Agde . They placed themselves under the protection of the Counts of Barcelona and the Kings of Aragon .

Old arena

The Albigensians served Béziers as one of their headquarters. In 1209, during the Albigensian Crusade , the city was the first of the Occitan cities to be conquered by the Crusaders who responded to the call of Pope Innocent III. followed to fight the Albigensians, classified as heretical by the Catholic Church . The then Viscount of Béziers, Raimund-Roger Trencavel , had withdrawn to the better fortified Carcassonne; many residents of Béziers fell victim to a great massacre committed by the Crusaders on July 22, 1209 .

"Kill them [all], God will already know his own"

- Arnaud Amaury : Abbot and papal legate, when taking Béziers when asked what to do with the heretics and the Catholics.

Allegedly 7,000 people who fled to the Magdalenenkirche were burned with it and many others were massacred; a total of around 20,000 people are said to have been murdered.

In the peace of 1229 the lands of the Vice Count of Béziers, Carcassonne and Albi came to the crown domain of France ; henceforth Béziers stayed with the crown. Synods were held here (apart from the mentioned one of 356) in the years 1233 and 1255 against the Albigensians and in 1279, 1280, 1299 and 1351 in various disputes.

Modern times

Canal bridge over the Orb
Wine transport on the Canal du Midi

In the 16th century, Béziers was a capital of the Huguenots and suffered badly during the wars of religion . The fortifications of the city were destroyed in 1632 after the uprising of Henri II de Montmorency on the orders of Richelieu .

The second half of the 17th century was marked by the construction and opening of the Canal du Midi . The canal planned by Pierre-Paul Riquet connects the Mediterranean with the Atlantic Ocean and crosses the Orb River on a bridge near Beziers . Not far from there, the canal gains height by means of a lock staircase. Although the city used the opportunities he opened up only to a modest extent, he did allow distillation products from local viticulture to be exported via Sète and Bordeaux . This made Béziers an important trading point for alcohol.

Around 20% of all buildings in the Catholic city belonged to one of the around 15 local monasteries in the 18th century . In the course of the revolution , which hardly shook the quiet city, the bourgeoisie took over political power and bought many of the goods that had previously belonged to the church. The city's hopes of becoming the capital of the Hérault département were not fulfilled in 1790; from 1791 to 1801, Béziers only became a temporary bishopric .

In the early 19th century, people began to grow wine not only on the slopes, but also on the plains. With the increase in wine production, industrial development and growing prosperity of the city went hand in hand. The population grew from 13,500 in 1816 to 53,000 in 1901. In 1857 Béziers got a train station on the Bordeaux – Sète line , and from 1895 Paris could be reached via the Béziers – Neussargues line .

Between 1815 and 1870, Béziers developed into a republican-minded city. The coup d'état Louis Napoléon Bonaparte met with strong opposition, which resulted in the brutal persecution of Republicans with fatalities on December 4, 1851, as well as two executions . As a result, Béziers became a stronghold of the Parti radical, founded in 1901, and Freemasonry .

The theater was opened in 1844 and the new arena in 1897, which was used for bullfighting as well as for theater and opera . For a time, Béziers was referred to as the French Seville or Bayreuth .

20th century

Place de la République (before 1916)

In 1907 Languedoc was hit by a crisis resulting from overproduction and difficulties in selling wine. On May 12 of that year, 120,000 people from all over the region demonstrated in the city, whereupon the 17th infantry regiment was moved from Agde to Béziers in June . During the First World War, the soldiers' need for simple wine temporarily helped. A brief economic boom in the 1920s ended with the global economic crisis that began in 1929 . The following decade was marked by renewed sales problems, aging production structures and a population decline.

In 1899 Jean Moulin was born in Béziers , who became an important leader of the French Resistance during the German occupation of France in World War II . Arrested by the Germans and badly abused, Moulin, who died on the way to a concentration camp , is considered the city's most famous son.

In the post-war period, the importance of viticulture and trade waned in favor of further industrialization. Initially the construction sector, later also the mechanical and chemical industries, took on its role. In the meantime, trade has become the most important economic factor; almost 20% of the working population works in the service sector (health care, administration, etc.). With the opening of the Institut universitaire de technologie (IUT) in 1992 and an institution of the Université Paul-Valéry-Montpellier (Center Du Guesclin) in 1996, Béziers became a university location .


Distribution of seats in the city council after the 2020 local elections

The city's mayor is Robert Ménard , who in 2014, with the support of the right-wing extremist Front National party, replaced Raymond Couderc, who had been in office since 1995, from the conservative UMP . In the local elections in 2020, Ménard was confirmed in office with 68.74%.

In the city council, Ménard's right-wing electoral alliance Choisir Béziers has 44 out of 49 seats after the 2020 local elections.


The viticulture and spirits trade are considered the most important traditional branches of industry. Numerous medium-sized companies have settled in the outskirts of the city since the middle of the 20th century.


Béziers station (1987)

Béziers is an important transport hub. In addition to the Orb and Canal du Midi waterways, the RN112 (from Castres to Agde ), RN113 (from Narbonne to Pézenas ), D11 (towards Capestang and Carcassonne ) and D909 (towards Bédarieux ) and the roads intersect in the city Motorways A9 and A75 (see also the list of motorways in France ).

The station is on the Bordeaux – Sète railway line ; there the Béziers – Neussargues line branches off in the direction of Clermont-Ferrand. The Beziers airport was expanded in the years 2006/7.


See also: List of Monuments historiques in Béziers

  • Allée Paul-Riquet, the center of the city
  • Saint-Aphrodise Church (11th-15th centuries)
  • Hôtel de Ville (town hall, 18th century)
  • Former cathedral Saint-Nazaire (13th-14th and 18th centuries) with the Musée Lapidaire (old tombstones and capitals)
  • Church Saint-Jacques (12th century)
  • Sainte-Madeleine Church (started at the end of the 11th century, restored in the 18th century)
  • Musée des Beaux-Arts (paintings)
  • Pont Vieux (Old Bridge, 12th century, alterations in the 14th - 16th centuries)
  • Béziers Canal Bridge (1857)
  • Fonserannes lock staircase (18th century)
  • Fonserannes water lift

Twin cities

Béziers has twinned cities with Heilbronn in Germany (since 1965), the English Stockport (since 1972), the Russian Stavropol (since 1982) and with Chiclana de la Frontera in Spain (since 1993).


Béziers was the location for the film A Beautiful Girl Like Me (Une belle fille comme moi) by François Truffaut (1972).

sons and daughters of the town

Monument to Pierre-Paul Riquet in the Allée Paul-Riquet
Cenotaph for Jean Moulin

See also:

Web links

Commons : Béziers  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikivoyage: Béziers  - travel guide


  1. Béziers - climate tables
  2. Avienus, Ora maritima 589.
  3. Either from the branch of the Volcae Arecomici (as Yves Lafond: Baeterrae. In: Der Neue Pauly (DNP). Volume 2, Metzler, Stuttgart 1997, ISBN 3-476-01472-X . ( Excerpt online )) or that of the Volcae Tectosages (As Monique Clavel-Lévêque:  Baeterrae . In: Richard Stillwell et al. (Ed.): The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites. Princeton University Press, Princeton NJ 1976, ISBN 0-691-03542-3 .).
  4. Pliny, Naturalis historia 14, 68.
  5. Monique Clavel-Lévêque, Baeterrae , in: The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites , Princeton 1976 ( online ).
  6. Latin Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius. Caesarius von Heisterbach : Dialogus miraculorum , cap. XXI de haeresi Albiensium ( 1851 edition, p. 302, online ).
  7. a b c d Histoire de Béziers et du Biterrois at, accessed on July 6, 2020
  8. Résultats des élections municipales: Béziers at, accessed on 6 July 2020