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Cities in the southwest France: history, tourist sites, activities.

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Eight suggestions for touring the southwest of France.

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Traditional dish recipes from southwest part of France.

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France in facts and figures! Interesting less known facts about France

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Tourist Sites in and around Beziers

Tourist sites and attractions within a radius of km* from the city center

* The distances are point to point and not driving distances!

At around: 0.96 km

Roman Amphitheatre During the Roman times Béziers was a flourishing town of the province Septimania, situated on Via Domtia a road linking Rome with Iberian Peninsula. The amphitheatre that was discovered in 1992 was probably built in the first century AD. At the time the amphitheatre was able to receive close to 15,000 spectators...
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At around: 1 km

Saint Nazaire Cathedral Saint Nazaire Cathedral of Béziers stands on the site of an old church destroyed by the fire on the 22nd of July 1209 when the whole city is burned down by the cathar crusaders led by Simon de Montfort.
The Cathedral perched on a hill above Orb river is visible from a long distance and is a symbol of the city. It was built starting in 1215 and its architecture is typical of the "Gothic Méditerranéen" style.
The Cathedral interior is ornate with sculptures, murals and stained glass dating from as early as 13th century.
The western side flanked by two towers has an exceptional 10 meters in diameter rosette....

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UNESCO Heritage List At around: 2.47 km

The Seven Lock Water Stairway With more then 300,000 visitors every year the Fonserannes locks are one of the most important tourist attraction of the Canal du Midi and a marvel of the hydro technical engineering of the 17th century.
Built in 1697 the lock complex is 300 meters long and has a difference in level of 21.50 meters.
From the initial 9 locks there are in use only 7 now....

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At around: 9.77 km

Oppidum d’Enserune Oppidum d'Ensérune is the site of one of the most important Gaul villages in the South of France. The Oppidum was inhabited from the bronze age up until and including the roman occupation.
The museum displays a nice collection of Gaul arms and ceramics.
The Oppidum is located on the hill overlooking the Canal du Midi with its 170m Malpas tunnel dug in 1679 but also the strange looking pie like dried lake bed of Montady ( the lake was dried in 1270 when the sun rays positioned ditches were dug)....

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At around: 20.74 km

The Town of Agde Agde is a small town – population just above 20,000 – on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea in the department of Herault in south west France (in Languedoc-Roussillon region). It is also a renowned resort – during summer month the population swells to up to 200,000 people – ten times the number of permanent inhabitants.
Agde is the third oldest town in France (after Béziers and Marseillan) being founded in the 5th century BC by Greek navigators.
The name Agde comes from the Greek Agathé which means “good” or “prosperous”.
Laying at the mouth of Herault river that flows into the sea here Agde was from the outset and up to the 18th century one of the most important maritime ports of...

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At around: 25.19 km

Archbishops Palace The Archbishop Palace in Narbonne is the second largest ecclesiastic building complex in France after the Pope's residence in Avignon.
The complex includes the Old Palace "Palais Vieux" that was built between 13th and the 14th centuries and comprises The Gilles Aycelin Dungeon, and the Saint Martial and Madeleine Towers and the New Palace of Gothic style that was built in the 14th century - by successive Archbishops - but overhauled in the 17th and the 18th centuries.
The Archbishop Palace house now the Archeology Museum, the Museum of Arts and History and the City Hall of Narbonne.
The Gilles Aycelin Tower is the highest of the 3 tower that make the Palace.
It was built between 1295 and 1306 by Archbishop...

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UNESCO Heritage List At around: 25.2 km

Interesting Sites of Narbonne Beside the Saint Just Saint Pasteur Cathedral and the Archbishop's Palace Narbonne, has several other interesting sites.
The most accessible one is the "de la Robine" channel that runs through the center of the city. Robine channel is part of a bigger structure called "La Nouvelle branch" which is a waterway that links the "Canal du Midi" to the Mediterranean Sea.
La Robine channel was built in the late 17th century by Vauban and is listed together with the rest of the Canal du Midi in the UNESCO's Heritage list.
One interesting site on the channel is its Merchants Bridge. This bridge replaced the old roman bridge that was part of the Via Domitia (a part of Via Domitia was discovered in 1997 and...

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At around: 25.2 km

Saint Just Saint Pasteur Cathedral Saint Just Saint Pasteur Cathedral of Narbonne is its - unfinished by the standards of its initial planning as 120 meters (around 370 feet) long edifice! - Crown jewel.
The Cathedral is located on the site of 3 former successive churches.
The initial church was built right after the Edict of Milan in 313 AD when the Christianism became the official religion of the Roman Empire. This structure was replaced in 445 AD, after it was destroyed by fire, by another church which later, in 782 AD, was dedicated to the Spanish martyrs Just and Pasteur. This second basilica was in its turn replaced by a pre-Romanesque church - now referred to as the Théodard church due to the name of the...

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At around: 31.78 km

La Clape The little massif of La Clape, just outside of Narbonne, is a renowned wine growing area.
Its wines fall under the AOC (Appellation d'Origine Contrôle) of Coteaux de Languedoc.
La Clape name means "pile of stones" in the local Occitan language.
The region, with around 3000 hours of sunshine per year, is one of the sunniest of France.
The quality and uniqueness of La Clape wines are due to the microclimate of the area and the good combination of sun, soil and wind - there are 13 winds with names like Lebech, Gregou, Medjournaous, etc. that sweep the little calcareous massif!
The wine growing on La Clape began during the roman occupation of the South of France in the first century before Christ....

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At around: 33.12 km

Répudre Bridge Channel The Répudre bridge channel, built in 1676, is the first aqueduct bridge built by Pierre Paul de Riquet and the first of its kind in the world.
It is name this way because it crosses the little creek of Répudre at the border between the the communal territories of Paraza and Ventenac.
It is a backcountry location but worth a detour.
The little town of Ventenac - population just over 500 - is situated on the hill overlooking the "Canal du Midi" and the plains of the Aude valley. The place was inhabited since Roman times and it was they, the Romans, who gave the town the name Aventinus from where Ventenac name derives.
Ventenac territory is famous for producing one of the best...

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At around: 35.69 km

Fontfroide Abbey Fontfroide Abbey is situated in the beautiful masif with the same name - small rolling hills not higher then 300 meters covered by meditereanan vegetation - close to the city of Narbonne.
The abbey initially founded in 1093 joined the Cistercian religious order in 1145 and kept on being expanded until the 14the century.
During the cruisade The Albigensian Crusade of the 13th century it was one of the headquarters of the Papal forces, under the leadership of the abbot Arnaud Amalric.
The abbey it is a wonderfully preserved monasic residence and is listed as Historic Monument by the French Ministry of Culture.
Finish your visit with a very nice easy hike to the Cross of Fontfroide...

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Cathar Village At around: 38.41 km

Minerve Situated on the southern part of the Natural Park of Haute-Languedoc, at the foot-hills of Montainge Noire and only 1 hour drive from the Mediterranean sea, the little village of Minerve, population 122, is in the same time the historic capital of the Minervois region, an outstanding historic AND geologic site and a member of the "Most beautiful villages of France" - "Les Plus Beaux Villages de France" - community.
Built on a rocky bluff, Minerve, or Menerba in the local Occitan language, overlooks from an altitude of more than 60 meters (200 feet) the gorges of the Cesse and Brian Rivers.
The Minerve village region - "le Minervois" - was inhabited since the prehistoric times. The region, together with the whole...

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At around: 39.08 km

Thau Lake and Sète Thau Lake is the connection of Canal du midi to the Mediterranean Sea and the rest of the France via Canal du Rhone. The Canal du Midi flows into Thau Lake at Marseillan.
Sète - called sometimes "The Venise of Languedoc" - was built during the reign of King Louis XIV as port for exportation of the goods coming from the South-West of France via Canal du Midi.
The location of Sète was inhabited since roman times but the real city was built starting in 1666 when the 650 meter long pier Saint Louis was built and the channel linking the Thau Lake to the Mediterranean Sea was enlarged. The day when the construction started the 29th of July 1666 was and...

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Mysterious At around: 43.79 km

A dolmen is defined as "a structure usually regarded as a tomb, consisting of two or more large, upright stones set with a space between and capped by a horizontal stone".
The word dolmen comes from the Breton language: daul signifies table and moen means stone.
This etymology led some to believe that the dolmens were druidic altars built in open air. Most probably however the dolmens were Neolithic common funeral chambers - since usually many skeletons were discovered inside.
The "Morel dos Fados" dolmen - the dolmen of the "Fairies Hill" in Occitan language - is located on a little pine trees covered hill on the territory of Pépieux commune at the border between Aude and Hérault departments of southwest of France,...

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