Photo 1 shows a large mansion along the east side of Allées Paul Riquet. At first look, it is only one of the numerous mansions along the Allée as it has not many carvings. However, though it has been spoiled by the large green blind of a bar that cut hides half of it, it obviously hade a monumental entrance in the middle.
Photo 2 is a closeup on the top part of what has been a monumental entrance. It is framed by two lions and in the middle, stands the face of a bearded god.
Not exactly on Allées Paul Riquet but that can be seen from the Alleys, stand a house with two caryatids that seem to figure Cérès, and another figure of Cérès stands on top of the entrance photo 1). Cérès was the Roman goddess for agriculture and crops, often connected with corn. The Canal du Midi was primarily dug for corn trade. Was that a house that had something to do with corn trade of the canal, May be but I cannot be positive.
Photo 2 shows a general view of the house.
In the north-east part of Allées Paul Riquet stands a wealthy mansion built in the Empire style.
Photo 1. This huge mansion has 11 windows on the first level and 11 windows at the second level. When, in the XIXth, there was a tax on windows and doors (Impôts sur les portes et fenêtres), the owners must have been very wealthy to pay for it !
Photo 2. Close up on the front that has fluted columns and several carved figures.
Photo 3. Next building is equally carved but has “only” 2 x 3 windows !
In font of the theater, extend Allées Paul Riquet. Behind the theater stand Place de la Victoire.
Photo 1. On the east side of Place de la Victoire stands a wealthy beginning of the XXth century building, now owned by a bank, the “Société Marseillaise de Crédit”
Photo 2. In the middle of Place de la Victoire flows a fountain.
Several memory slabs stand at the bottom of the theater front
Photo 1 reminds May 12th 1907, when 120,000 persons marched against the authorities because of the wine crisis and the soldiers refused to obey their chiefs.
Photo 2. Belgian refugees (1939-1941 thank the citizens of Béziers for welcoming them.
Photo 3 reminds that 10 citizens were slaughtered by the Nazi on August 20th 1944, two days before the town was freed.
The theater stands at the northern end of allées Paul Riquet. It was built in 1844 and is in the style “à l’italienne” (Italian style).
Photo 1. General view of the theater.
Photos 2 and 3. Bas-reliefs representing scenes of the antiquity stand on top of the front of the theater, right and left. All the carvingswere made by the famous French sculptor David d’Angers.
Photo 4. Angels stands on each part of the three entrances into the theater.
This department store stands on the east side of allées Paul Riquet. It was built around1860 in a Napoleon III style, with fluted columns and a bow window in the center. It is now a sport shop, “la Halle des sports”.
Pierre-Paul Riquet was born in 1609 in Béziers from a wealthy family. He was an ingeneer and a businessman. He had the idea to dig a canal between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic ocean though it had to pass the “Seuil de Naurouze” (ground sill of Naurouze or pass of Naurouze), 189 meters above sea level. He managed to find enough water that could be diverted to feed the locks.
In 1662, he convinced Colbert, prime minister of Louis XIV to build the canal. It costed 15 million pounds. Paul Riquet himself paid for 2 milion pounds on his own and in exchange, was awarded the toll on the canal. The canal was finished in 1680 by his two sons, one year after his death. The canal was inscribed in 1996 on the Unesco heritage list.
In 1789, Thomas Jefferson visited the camal and took it as a model to connect the Potomac river with Lake Erie.
Allées Paul Riquet are 600 meters long. They are the busiest part of the town for pedestrians. The alleys are planted with old plane trees. The center of the alleys is pedestrians only while cars are allowed on each side. Allées Paul Riquet are lined with magnificent mansion built at the end of the XIXth and t the beginning of the Xxth.
Photo 1. Allées Paul Riquet, northward view with the theater at the end.
Photo 2. Allées Paul Riquet, southward view with the statue of Paul Riquet at the end
Photo 3. Allées Paul Riquet, closer to the statue of Paul Riquet
Photo 4. Allées Paul Riquet, side walk
Photo 5. Allées Paul Riquet, gigantic board to play chess.
Inside of the church a small portion of the previous Romanesque cathedral was found to include in the present church on the north side of the nave. It consists of a corner of the nave containing a couple of ancient capitals, one figured and and a bit more, recognized as the early sculptor Maitre Gervais showing the Three Magi.
The interior of the Cathedral is of short length with a wide east end. The lateral view has the usual three levels but is too short to hold the organ. The west face contains the large organ of the 17C on the inner face of the giant Rose Window. There is a fine Glory over the center of the Altar.
Just below the Archbishop's garden to the west there is a fine view of the river and the country side to the west. It is also easy to see the adjacent two bridges, the upper river one the Pont Vieux and just to the south the Pont Neuf. In this location is the Pont-Canal created in the 19C to allow for a side access to the canal from Beziers. Not far off is a bice park leading to the east end of the church.
In the center of the city of Beziers is the Allees P. Riquet, which is a 600 m long and wide promenade. Along its entire length it is bordered on each lateral edge by large and ancient plane trees. At the northern end stands the Theatre built in the middle of the 19C. It has a facade covered with allegorical bas-reliefs by David d'Angers. A little over half way down the promenade is a statue of Riquet by the same sculpture celebrating the important structure of this part of France,
On a terrace to the west of the Cathedral but at a slightly lower level, is the quiet graceful Archbishop's garden. From here the way down to the river is steep, quickly reaching two crossings of the river Orb, the Pont Vieux and just below it the Pont Neuf. One of them is also used as a way to move canal traffic across the river as part of its conduit. From the garden there is a view into the hills on the far side of the river.
The cloister is situated along the south wall of the cathedral. It has wide arched bays and tall vaulting. The outer walls descend to flat capitals below which are sculptures depicting crouching figures and fanciful animals. Below some of these there are further bas-relief carvings with a variety of figures.