Rugby – Vin – Féria

Some people complain about tourists.  I have a lot of Parisian friends and family, and they moan and groan about the tourists.  That’s kind of understandable, because Paris is a huge world capital, and there are always a lot of people out and about.  Down here in Béziers it’s a little different because when there are no tourists, you don’t tend to see many people.  For about a month we’ve been seeing more and more people in the streets, restaurants, and cafés.  That’s partially due to the amazing weather we’ve been having most of the time, and partially due to the mostly Northern European tourists who think that it’s delightful to take a dip in the Mediterranean when the water is only 19 ° (66° F).  If you’re from Northern Europe, tell me if it’s true  that you love the “plages naturistes“.

Tourists bring vitality this region, and it’s what the economy here thrives upon!  16 years ago, when we lived here for one year after getting married, someone told me that there are 3 passions in Béziers:  le rugby, le vin, et la féria!  I see now how true that is, and I think that this passion draws tourists to the region.  It’s what drew me here summer after summer, until we finally decided to move here last year.  Back in St. Louis, summer was definitely not my favorite season.  It was too hot to even get outside.  Here, even in the summer there’s often a slight sea breeze, and there’s no humidity to speak of.  I love to go and sit at the pub across the street and drink a cold beer while the kids ride their bikes and scooters on the big square.  I don’t even feel like we need to leave here to go on vacation this year….. but don’t worry, I won’t let that stop us!  Until then, I have to say that I LOVE MY JOB, and giving French immersion tours and French lessons in the region this summer is going to be so much fun.

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7 thoughts on “Rugby – Vin – Féria”

  1. @Jennifer – thanks for the post… though I do wish you would write a novel on Béziers intended for those of us that want to move there. How is life with children there? My son is 3y/o and I do worry about the schools and general mindset of the youth. Are my thoughts of Béziers being a hidden gem rooted in reality? or foolish dreams? By the way… we will be there in 3 – 6 months!!!

    1. Hi Michael,

      You’re moving to Béziers? That’s fun!! Béziers is surrounded by lots and lots of lovely countryside and beaches, so I hope you’ll be able to have a car and get out of the city and enjoy it. We have 2 kids, and know a lot of people here who have kids, and it’s really a wonderful place to raise them. Béziers isn’t that big, but it’s big enough that you have many of the amenities you would expect in a city. The winter here is pretty calm…. a little too calm…. but the other three seasons are really great! There’s always something going on in and around town, like festivals, for example. That said, I do think that the general mindset of the youth in certain parts of this town is very depressing. There are many juvenile delinquents, and it doesn’t seem that they have any decent role models to follow. That’s only a part of the population, though, and I can assure you that there are just as many well educated, positive thinking, ambitious, polite young people in this town. I know that because I teach many of them and their parents, brothers and sisters. We also have our kids in school here, and they’re in scouts, and there are many really nice families and kids! We do have a new mayor here (have you heard???). Were I a voting citizen, I never would have voted for him, but now that he’s been elected we must do what we can to support him. I have to say that in the last few months I’ve noticed a HUGE difference in this city, and all for the better. Be careful which neighborhood you move to, and if you want more details I’ll be happy to give you my opinion. Also, and I’ll just be blunt about this because you have a 3 year old who will be going to school…. Go with a private school. You’ll be nothing but pleased, I’m sure. The public schools here really don’t have a good reputation. Again, I’ll be happy to give you more details if you wish. Now, that’s just for Béziers…. if you’re moving to a village around here, the public schools will likely be fantastic, from what I’ve heard. I don’t know if you can still find a spot in a private school (which, by the way, are VERY cheap), but L’école Notre Dame and Le Pic are both very good schools, and both within Béziers. Not 100% sure that le Pic has a maternelle, but ND does for sure. ND always has a waiting list though…. I don’t think your dreams are foolish, and I do think that Béziers is a hidden gem. Many may disagree, but we’ve been here almost a year now, and I’ve never been happier. I do think that much of that is due to the fact that we were highly advised to live in the area of the city around the university and médiathèque. You just don’t have the same troubles as you would in some other parts of the city, like the centre-ville, though it’s only a 10 minute walk from our apartment. By the way, how’s your French?

      1. Jennifer, Thank you so much for responding back and with great length of thought to boot.

        I have no idea which areas are good and which are bad although I have heard that area around the amphitheatre ruins was not very good. I was looking at places on Rue de la République and Allée Paul Riquet. I like the idea of not needing a car for anything. Anyway, if you have advice it would be much appreciated. Being that it is impossible to let a flat in France prior to moving, I will most likely let a place short-to-mid term on Rue des Pénitents Noirs.

        For my son, I have already been looking into the options for his education. I still have not been able to get a more accurate idea of costs so I will need to correspond with the schools.

        My French is horrid. I used to be conversational but that was decades ago. When I was living in Antibes during 2012, I didn’t restart my learning as I was always speaking in English with my Italian friends… and really didn’t have the strong French interactions I needed. I have since bought a few language methods to get me back in the swing and surely do hope that I can take advantage of your programmes.

        I am elated that you (being at least one person) do not think I am being foolish about my thoughts on Béziers. The city is not large, but as you also stated… its large enough to have the necessary amenities. I want to be able walk to this or that plaza, along a long pedestrian centred boulevard and through a nice central park. I love that the new shopping centre is there and hope that the city experiences more revivals like what appears to have happened at La Place du Forum.

        I have grown very tired of tourists… and want to live in a city that is all about people living their lives… or to where those tourists that are present are easily outnumbered by the locals.

        Béziers also seems ideal not only for its Ryanair service, but for having easy rail access to Barcelona and Montpellier. My big city needs will be a simple short trip away!

        I can only assume that you never had any headaches in dealing with the realtors? Since I am not French… and I am unsure yet if my pay checks will be coming out of the States or will be deposited in my French bank… there is much that will likely cause me great grief. I have a bank account (3 years now) with Caisse d’Epargne so I can provide them with my RIB… but never the less Foncia has already set the tone for disaster.

        Again… I thank you for any words you can provide. If I could I would enthusiastically steal away your knowledge & time… but as I am sure thats not possible I will settle for whatever kindness you are willing to give.


      2. Jennifer, just wanted tell you that we (finally) arrive on 6th of September. Decided to get a short let until we get a better idea on where we want to live. Lets hope for a fantastic autumn.



  2. Hi Michael,

    I can’t believe I never responded to your last comment. I read it, enjoyed it, and got busy. Sorry!!! It’s been a busy summer. I’m glad to know that things are working out. You’ll be here very soon! I’m so curious to know where you found a place to rent, what you decided to do about school for your little boy, and all the rest. Where are you guys from, by the way? We’ll definitely have to meet you when you get here. Don’t worry about your French, you can join the conversation class I lead at the library café twice a week 🙂 You’re going to love the autumn here, and especially if you like wine. You can already feel a crispness in the air (on some days). However, today it’s really hot. Last year, my kids were swimming in the Mediterranean on October 26. Just goes to show, it is a pretty wonderful place to be. No place is perfect, but a positive attitude goes a long way. It’s a cheap place to live, and that’s always a good thing. There are many really good people around. Improving your French will help tremendously, but most of all just getting out there and meeting people will make all the difference. Looking forward to hearing back from you! – Jennifer

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