758km (471 miles) SW of Paris; 234km (145 miles) W of Marseille; 71km (44 miles) SW of Montpellier; 93km (58 miles) N of Perpignan

Because of its strategic position on the Canal du Midi, Béziers is a popular stop for the thousands of visitors who sail, hike, or cycle along this vast waterway. Béziers has had its share of tribulations in the course of its long history -- it was the site of the Cathar Crusade that resulted in the deaths of thousands of heretic Cathars in the 13th century. But today Béziers focuses on other things, namely wine production from its many surrounding vineyards, as well as rugby and bullfighting. Its old town is an alluring maze of narrow winding streets that eventually lead to the plateau overlooking the Orb Valley, home of the impressive 13th-century Cathédrale St-Nazaire.