Thursday, 15 October 2009

Nothing of Interest in Bedarieux

Nothing of waterway interest that is. But the town has two features of interest to anyone with a more general appreciation of transport and, in particular, railways.
One is a magnificent railway viaduct, opened in 1857 and closed about 100 years later, that cuts a high-level swathe across the town centre and the valley of the River Orb.

Its 37 arches give it a length of 713 metres and, remarkably, given that it must have cost a fortune to build, it's actually situated on a relatively minor branch line that served only a bauxite mine in the hills north of the town.

Bedarieux also has a passenger railway - and one which is still open. Once considered to be a main line with through trains to Paris, its now very much a secondary route with a typically eccentric French train service. Each of the dozen or so daily trains from Beziers continues to different destinations on the line and about half get no further than Bedarieux itself. Each train is a law unto itself as to when it runs. A few are "tous les jours" but others run only once a twice a week, some run on schooldays only and there's even one that runs on Sunday evenings during school terms only. Some are permanently replaced by buses. Here's the summer timetable. Not everything about French railways is better than ours!
The one feature of Bedarieux's surviving rail line is its station. Serving what is by any standard only a small market town and with only a handful of trains a day it nevertheless boasts this magnificent station roof:

Erected in 1903 it was paid for not by the railway company but by a local benefactor who just wished to keep the citizens of the town warm and dry whilst waiting for their trains.

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