Beaucaire - Encyclopedia

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BEAUCAIRE, a town of south-eastern France, in the department of Gard, 17 m. E. by S. of Nimes on the Paris-Lyon railway. Pop. (1906) 7284. Beaucaire is situated on the right bank of the Rhone, opposite Tarascon, with which it is connected by two handsome bridges, a suspension-bridge of four spans and 1476 ft. in length, and a railway bridge. A triangular keep, a chapel, and other remains of a château (13th and 14th centuries) of the counts of Toulouse stand on the rocky pine-clad hill which rises to the north of the town; the chapel, dedicated to St Louis, belongs to the latest period of Romanesque architecture, and contains fine sculptures. The town derives celebrity from the great July fair, which has been held here annually since the 12th century, but has now lost its former importance (see Fair).

Beaucaire gives its name to the canal which communicates with the sea (near Aigues-Mortes) and connects it with the Canal du Midi, forming part of the line of communication between the Rhone and the Garonne. The town is an important port on the Rhone, and its commerce, the chief articles of which are wine, and freestone from quarries in the vicinity, is largely water-borne. Among its industries are distilling and the manufacture of furniture, and the preparation of vermicelli, sausages and other provisions.

Beaucaire occupies the site of the ancient Ugernum, and several remains of the Roman city have been discovered, as well as (in 1734) the road that led from Nimes. The present name is derived from Bellum Quadrum, a descriptive appellation applied in the middle ages either to the château or to the rock on which it stands. In 1125 Beaucaire came into the possession of the counts of Toulouse, one of whom, Raymund VI., established the importance of its fairs by the grant of privileges. In the Wars of the League it suffered severely, and in 1632 its castle was destroyed by Richelieu.

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