Almost four weeks of school holidays during Easter to fill up. A good excuse to pack some bags and spend a week on a city break to explore Beziers, in the south of France. The main reason for the trip was to visit Les Grands Buffets in Narbonne, an all-you-can-eat restaurant we had seen on YouTube located about 50-minutes from Beziers.
Date Visited: Tuesday – Saturday, 18th – 22nd April 2023
Location: Béziers, France
Getting There: Ryanair flight from Stansted to Beziers.
Cost: Bus transfers £10 return from Stratford to Stansted. Flights c.£55 return per person (including one upgrade to priority boarding). Accommodation c.£85 per person for the four nights. Car hire c.£230 for the five days. Food and drinks on top, depending on what and how much you eat. The Les Grands Buffets was c£50 per person, half price for children.
Off we go
With Ryanair charging for every little option these days, we opted for the cheapest possible tickets. This involved taking carry-on luggage for two of us, and purchasing priority access with overhead baggage for one. As a result, we packed the bare minimum. The transfer from Stratford to Stansted Airport with National Express was a breeze, although we felt sorry for anyone who turned up at the scheduled time of departure as the driver sped off 10 minutes early. Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for the flight. For some reason, we were delayed as we were taxiing to the runway and ended up sitting on the plane for close to 30 minutes. Once in the air, it was a smooth flight…until we landed. Not sure if it was the weather, the pilot, or the shorter runway, but it was the bumpiest and roughest landing we’d ever experienced. However, the benefit of landing at a small airport was that with the limited flights in, going through customs was a breeze.
Beziers, a sleepy town
We sensed from the demographics of the flight that Beziers would be a laid-back, quiet town. After picking up the hire car within five minutes of arriving, we then headed to the town centre where our rented apartment was located. It looked a little dodgy being in a side street, but once inside it was spacious and comfortable. Bonus was that it came with free off-street parking. The town itself is nicely laid out, with the main strip and arterial lanes shooting off it. There must be some decent funding being pumped into the town as there were numerous street works being undertaken.
What’s there to do?
If you’re into architecture and old towns, then there’s plenty to see and do. There are a few main attractions which we enjoyed, and I’m sure there’s more that we missed.
- Catedral de Saint-Nazaire de Béziers – the main cathedral overlooking the River Orb, which is free to enter and walkaround.
- The 9 locks of Fonseranes – roughly a 30 minute walk or a 20 minute mini-tourist train ride from the main town centre, a great way to spend some time admiring the engineering. It’s even better when a boat needs to use it so you can see it in action. If you enjoy long walks, you can continue along the Canal du Midi.
- Beziers by Little Train – as mentioned above, this train takes you past all the main sites in Beziers and includes earphones for a self-guided tour. €8 for adults and €5 for children. Depending on the time you catch it, you can either alight at 9 locks or stay on and do the full lap of the town in about 50 minutes.
- Plateau-des-poetes – lovely park in the town centre with a waterfall, pond and a small playground for the kids to burn some energy.
What about the food?
As I said at the start, the main reason for the visit to Beziers was to try the buffet at Les Grands Buffets in Narbonne. If you’re into all-you-can-eats, nice settings and French cooking and cheese, this is your place. I must admit it was probably a little too rich for me. Compared to buffets in the US and Asia, there were quite heavy dishes. Cara and I aren’t fans of cheese or foie gras either, so that limited the selection to seafood. Cara surprisingly enjoyed the caviar with brioche bread and crackers. Do book in advance as it was full on our visit. And for those who have been, any idea what the opera music at 10pm is all about?
Besides the buffet, we also tried:
- Le Cristal – typical French bistro with al-fresco seating when the weather’s nice, tasty seafood specials. It also has a boulangerie attached to it around the corner which sells tasty baguettes and desserts. Great to pick up for breakfast.
- Maison Carne – for all the steak lovers, this is a must-try. Steaks dangling on display, cooked in a jasper-oven, served with fries and a fresh salad.
- Polygone Beziers – if you’re not sure what to eat, or fancy a bit of shopping, you can visit the local shopping centre. It houses a variety of restaurants – steakhouse, Japanese, diner, pub.
Leaving with a full belly
With our bellies full after 4 days of non-stop eating, we checked out of our accommodation and headed to the airport. Warning for those travelling, it’s a tiny airport so no need to arrive too early otherwise you will be bored. As expected, the Ryanair flight back to London was delayed by over 2 hours.
Overall, it was a great, relaxing trip. Lots of food and sleep ins, not having to worry about logging in to work or homework. If you’re after a quiet, city break that’s not too expensive or far away, we recommend giving Beziers a try, especially during the warmer months. It’s not a destination that we would visit on a regular basis like Paris, but having been there it was a lovely family holiday.