View over Beaucaire
|Intercommunality||Community of communes Beaucaire-Terre d'Argence|
|• Mayor (2014–2020)||Julien Sanchez (FN)|
|86.52 km2 (33.41 sq mi)|
|• Density||180/km2 (480/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+01:00 (CET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+02:00 (CEST)|
|Elevation||1–156 m (3.3–511.8 ft) |
(avg. 18 m or 59 ft)
|1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km2 (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.|
The inhabitants of the commune are known as Beaucairois or Beaucairoises.
The commune has been awarded one flower by the National Council of Towns and Villages in Bloom in the Competition of cities and villages in Bloom.
Beaucaire is located on the Rhône River some 15 km south-west of Avignon and 10 km north of Arles opposite Tarascon, which is in Bouches-du-Rhône department of Provence. Access to the commune is by the D999 road from Jonquières-Saint-Vincent in the west which passes through the north of the commune and the town and continues east to Tarascon. The D966L comes from Saint-Bonnet-du-Gard in the north and comes down the banks of the Rhône to the town. The D90 branches off the D986L in the commune and passes in a circle around the town then continues east across the Rhone changing to the D99B. The D15 goes south from the town to Fourques. The D38 goes south-west from the town to Bellegarde. The D28 links the Ile du Comte to the east bank of the Rhone. A railway passes through the commune coming from Tarascon in the east with two stations in the commune then it continues to Nîmes in the west. Apart from the main town there are also the districts of Gaudon, Tour Saint-Pierre, Pauvre Menage, Malatrache, Mas du Consul, Mas Saint-Andre du Boschet, Mas de la Bastide, Mas des Lecques, Le Fer a Cheval, Saujean, Mas de SAicard, Bieudon, and Enclos d'Argent. The commune has a large urban area in the north-east with the rest of the commune farmland.
The Rhône river forms the whole eastern border of the commune as it flows south to join the sea at Port-Saint-Louis-du-Rhône. The river is also the departmental border between Gard and Bouches-du-Rhône. The Canal du Rhône à Sète passes through the commune from Saint-Gilles in the south-west and joins the Rhone in the town. A waterway called Laune de Pillet, a branch of the Rhone, cuts through the commune parallel to the Rhone forming the Ile de Pillet. There is an extensive network of irrigation canals covering most of the farmland.
The entire town is located in the Rhône Valley and has fairly flat terrain mainly formed by the plain of the Rhône. The north of the commune has hills, especially north of the town centre where the castle is located (80 metres high) as well as Saint-Roman (130 metres).
Founded in the 7th century BC, Beaucaire was known as a city on the famous Via Domitia, the first Roman road built in Gaul linking Italy to Spain (121 BC.). It was at this point that the Via Domitia divides in the direction of Arles, Nîmes, Remoulins, and Saint-Gilles. At that time, Beaucaire was called Ugernum. This was where, after the capture of Rome by the Vandals in 455, the Gallo-Roman nobility met to elect Avitus as the new emperor. A Roman mausoleum has been discovered on the Île du Comté.
The Middle Ages saw a slowdown in the expansion of the city. Beaucaire did not escape the troubles during this dark period. It underwent invasions of Burgundians, Visigoths, and Saracens. It was at that time that the first ramparts were built and the castle was expanded. The city took the name Beaucaire (which means "beautiful stone", probably in reference to its many buildings, to its quarries, or the fact that it had the first hills on the Rhone coming from the sea).
In the 13th century Louis IX made several trips to Beaucaire. The city was expanding and its population increasing. Despite the Hundred Years War and the Wars of Religion (14th to the 16th century), the splendour and refinement of the architecture grew along with the wealth of the Beaucairois merchants.
In 1579 Beaucaire was held by Henri I de Montmorency, the catholic governor of Languedoc, but tolerant. The captain of the city was Jean de Parabere who was soon to play his own game. Damville then provoked a riot to recover the city but even though Parabere was decapitated, the city remained in the hands of the Huguenots, thanks to reinforcements sent by François de Coligny, the son of Gaspard II de Coligny.
At the end of the Hundred Years War in 1453, Charles VII of France declared that Beaucaire would become the site of the Fair of la Madeleine, a commercial fair that would enable the trade of goods from all of the Mediterranean Basin countries to all of France. By the mid-seventeenth century, the Fair was the largest commercial fair in the Mediterranean region, allegedly exceeding in a week the total volume of trade done in Marseilles in a year. It remained the dominant Mediterranean trade fair until the arrival of the railway in the mid-nineteenth century. The advent of the railway and the end of river trade as well as the removal of its tax-free status by Napoleon gradually destroyed the Fair of the Madeleine and plunged Beaucaire into anonymity. One result of these years of commercial dominance was the construction of a remarkable number of architecturally significant mansions and palaces by rich merchants of many nationalities. The fair still exists in the form of carnivals, bullfights, and various festivities. Camargue bulls are run through the streets. It always starts on 21 July and always ends on a Monday and lasts at least six days.
At the end of the 19th century and the early 20th century some works of great value are built such as the banquette - a stone retaining wall along the eastern side of the city which protected it from the flooding of the Rhône, food markets, and the Municipal Casino which is now the Festival Hall. It was also at this time that the Canal du Rhône à Sète was widened. It connects Beaucaire to the Canal du Midi.
In 1940 Beaucaire had a large population of Belgian refugees, mostly from Farciennes. They became twin communes in 1969. In 2016, they gained international attention for naming a street "Rue du Brexit" as a tribute to the United Kingdom voting to leave the European Union.
Party per saltire, Or and Gules.
Beaucaire is one of 79 member communes of the Territorial Coherence Scheme (SCOT) of South Gard and is also one of the 41 communes of Pays Garrigues Costières.
The town of Beaucaire had 7,054 housing units in 2009, nearly 90% of which were primary residences. There are almost equal amounts of detached houses (52%) and apartments (48%) with the majority of homes having 3 or 4 rooms. Only 47% of residents own their own housing. Of the rental housing (3050 units in 2009) one third are HLM.
|1959||1983||José Boyer||PCF||General Councilor of the Canton of Beaucaire (1976-1982)|
|1983||2002||Jean-Marie André||DL||MP for Gard's 2nd constituency (1993-1997)|
|2002||2008||Mireille Cellier||UMP||Regional Councilor for Languedoc-Roussillon (1998-2010)|
|2008||2014||Jacques Bourbousson||UDI||President of the CC Beaucaire-Terre d'Argence (2008-2014)|
|2014||2020||Julien Sanchez||FN||Regional Councilor for Languedoc-Roussillon then Occitanie (since 2010)|
(Not all data is known)
The Municipal Council is composed of 23 members including the Mayor and 9 deputies.
In 2012 the commune had 15,860 inhabitants. The evolution of the number of inhabitants is known from the population censuses conducted in the commune since 1793. From the 21st century, a census of communes with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants is held every five years, unlike larger communes that have a sample survey every year.[Note 1]
The commune has:
Since 30 January 2014 Beaucaire has a multi-activity healthcare division with multi care professionals, a dental centre, opticians, and a hearing specialist.
In 2012 the workforce was 6,719 people, including 1,407 unemployed (14.1%. These people are mostly employees (83.7%) and all work inside the commune (100%). On 1 January 2014 there were a total of 1,533 business enterprises in the commune: 155 in Agriculture, 137 in Industry, 232 in construction, 851 in Trade, transport, and services, 289 in automobile trade and repair, and 158 in Administration, education, health, or social services. Out of this 458 businesses employed staff across all sectors.
Among local businesses, the Craft Brewery of Beaucaire produces and markets several varieties of beer regionally with some Camargue rice. There are also: a Ciments français cement plant (subsidiary of the Italcementi group), and a Casanis plant from the Bacardi group which markets Get 27. The headquarters of the multinational group Marie Brizard Wine & Spirits (formerly Belvédère) has been located in Beaucaire since 2011.
A very large number of buildings and sites are registered as historical monuments. For a complete list including links to descriptions (in French) and some photos click here. Some of the most well known are shown below.
Poets, living in or passing through Beaucaire, remembered it through their lyrical writing: Joseph D'Arbaud, Marie-Antoinette Rivière (Antoinette of Beaucaire), Juliette Borely, Artalette of Beaucaire.
Beaucaire has a legend of the formidable drac, a monster that rises from the depths of the sea to seize and devour its prey. One day the monster grabbed a young laundress and brought her to his cave. The story says the woman expected the worst, but the drac explained that what he wanted was a nanny for his son, the draconnet. Thus the washerwoman fed the little monster for seven years before she was set free. But one day at the fair the drac came to the market, having taken on a human appearance. The washerwoman recognized her former captor and incited the crowd to riot. Furious at being unmasked, the drac blinded the washerwoman. According to Gervase of Tilbury who wrote this tale in 1214, she remained blinded until the end of her days.
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