PM: Adim LR

Budget: 20.000.000 euro

Phase: Contest

Béziers is within ten kilometers of the sea, between the plain and the black mountain. The original city is therefore an acropolis built on 2 hills, Saint Jacques and Saint Nazaire, overhanging the flat rich and fertile plain of the Orb.

This ideal situation made it possible for man to settle very early in this territory, at the time sure by its situation in height, and also nourishing by its proximity with the river, the sea and the plain.

The first urban structures go back to the Gallic city, contemporary of the oppida markets which punctuates the territory, along the great lines of communication along the Mediterranean coast.

Jean Sagnes wrote in the history of Béziers "... The constraints of the site, its exceptional advantages for the defense and control of communications have imposed itself on the populations as successive masters of the territory to make Béziers the only pre-Roman oppidum consisted of a major urban area: "strong city, bridge city, city Carrefour", so many assets for a harmonious development of all the essential urban functions. With the valley, the Domitian Way and the bridge, the silhouette is in place, the image of the city is stable and recognizable. Yet the stiffness of the steep slopes on the Orb and the Bagnols stream, the articulation between the Saint Nazaire and Saint Jacques hills, the links with the plateau were not so easy to master for architects and town planners ... "


Our approach aimed several aspects :


  • Linking and putting into consistency the project with its territory (large landscape and Fonserannes), setting up a global approach on this “big site” dealing with environmental & landscape quality and global functioning, traveling, car park, management of tourist flows….
  • Creating a link with the City through a gentle urbanity, favoring vegetated public spaces and softer ways of traveling,
  • Connecting the upper and lower city,
  • Extending the closure initiated by the future creation of a cable car from the old gas plant to the square of Saint Jacques,
  • Linking urbanity and nature, the Biterrois and the Orb,
  • Releasing the forecourt of the Cathedral from cars while preserving a large parking lot,
  • Initiating new activities, new uses, related to tourism, strolling, discovery…
  • Preserve the postcard image of the town,
  • Highlighting the heritage and the natural character of the sites.

"The earth is mother, the originary is source: the in-itself is not inert, it is big of possibilities,
and the ultimate source of being is appearing: nature becomes world when it begets the man to whom it appears "
Mikel DUFRENNE in introduction of “Variations Paysagères” by Pierre SANSOT ...

Many, moreover, have compared the cathedrals with the romanticism of forests:
• Rodin stressed "Cathedral Forest, the Gothic Cathedral is also a Light Cathedral",
• Malraux wrote, "Conceived as a manifestation of the invisible, it represents the vision of the heavenly city in the earthly city",
• Goethe compared the Strasbourg Cathedral to a tree of 1000 branches,
• Schlegel assimilated the structure of the Cathedral of Cologne to that of an immense forest, recalling that men took the first ideas of architecture in the forest,
• Chateaubriand, himself, writes in his genius of Christianity "his vaults chiseled in foliage, these jambs which rest on the walls and end abruptly in broken trunks, the freshness of the vaults, the secret passages, all traces the labyrinths of the woods in Gothic churches ".