Rome's influence still lingers in southern France

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And I thought that was an apt description of this bustling, sophisticated Mediterranean town of 70,000 in the Languedoc-Rousillon region of southern France - one of my favorite areas, with its strong Spanish and Occitan influence. Beziers is comprised of narrow, medieval, pedestrian-friendly streets with charming shops and restaurants, and the impressive town square is the site of the Friday flower market, one of the region's best.
Rome's influence still lingers in southern France

One of Europe's oldest cities, it was colonized by the Romans around 36 B.C. (it boasts a recently excavated Roman amphitheater). The town was destroyed and rebuilt several times over the centuries and endured the horror of the Albigensian Crusade, when many of its citizens, the Cathars - viewed as heretics by the Roman Catholic Church - were massacred on July 22, 1209. During the 19th century, Beziers became known for its opulence, with a thriving economy, mansions and exquisite shops.

Today it has several notable landmarks, including the 18th century Town Hall and the 19th century Market Stalls, but the main one is the commanding, 13th and 15th century Gothic-style cathedral, Saint Nazaire, an impressive site atop the city overlooking the River Orb.

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