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Dramatic approach

The road winds slowly up the valley from the Beziers Carcassone highway, first climbing steeply then falling into the town of Aigues-Vives, that lies along the River Cesse. A river full of tricks up its sleeve as it disappears underground, in the heat of summer, in this wild landscape of Causses. Its gentle edges become sharp and defined as we go by La Caunette, tucked under cliff. Thin bridges tempt us to drive to perched farmhouses, but our aim is Minerve.

Minerve a miraculous village perched over the meeting of rivers.

Perched where rivers tunnel through deep gorges. Perched like a survivor, that it is, marking the massacre inflicted by Simon de Montfort during the crusades against the Cathars in France in 1210


With the backing of God and the Pope, with men hungry for loot and blood, Simon de Montfort laid seige, to the impregnable fortress village. And to speed things along he attacked St Rustique's well, the principal waters source for the village, found at the base of the village. Four catapults were set up around the village, -three towards the city gates and the fourth - the largest named "Malevoisine" to destroy the well.

The village was well protected with double surrounding walls, and overhanging ledges; but this did not stop the fear that Montfort gave. For the Viscount Guilhem of Minerve knew that the 200 men of his garrison couldn't resist the onslaught, if the gates should fall. And as the walls gave in of St Rustique's well, he negotiated the town's surrender.

He saved the villagers and his self, but 140 Parfaits who had taken refuge, were burnt at the stake, because they refused to deny their faith. The burning of parfaits was the first in the crusade, a terrible act that was to be repeated for another 34 years until the fall of Montsegur.

Little is left of the fortress, except for the "candela" - a single slender octagonal tower.

The village is a hodge-podge of narrow alleys, topped by a simple 12th century church that always seems closed. Nearby is a charming museum of full of figurines showing the history of the Cathars and Minerve.

Minerve - the Village

Walks Around and about the village are wonderful walks that test the soul and one's agility. Walks that skirt edges of cliffs, with drops to the churning of water in streams that run through small holdings.

The river Cesse tunnels under hill, next to the village, and one can, if the water's not high walk through, to yet another tunnel that breaks its way through yet another hill.

The natural bridges provide the ideal background to grand spectacles of Son et Lumière in the Summer months.

Places to visit near Minerve


Driving or walking above Minerve, walking away from the tarmac road, one can find dolmens, majestic against the line of hills (left off the D 147, or higher up - in and around Bois-Bas) and the distant horizon of the Mediterranean, not far from caves painted in times even more distant.


Drive to neighbouring Aigne with its beautiful church, artist's studios and galleries, and streets shaped like a snail.

Secluded swimming

Walk along the Cessiére, near Cailhol, and bathe in cool spring fed river. Take a path up the valley of Brian, under the gaze of Minerve, and find hidden pools

Swimming can also be found at Bize Minervois, which has its own natural swimming pool, right in the center of the village, in the bed of the river Cesse. There are more secluded spots upstream - perfect for lazy afternoons.

Canal du Midi

Go to Argeliers or Le Somail, or Ventenac and walk along this splendid piece of civic engineering dating back to the mid 1600's. Pretty plane trees provide ample shade for picnics, and watch the canal boats go by. For dining and wining there are numerous restaurants along the canal banks  

Nearby Minervois Holiday Rentals

Paradis Minervois, Aigues Vives
Sleeps 7. Swimming Pool. Views over vineyards.

Belle Bize, Bize Minervois
Sleeps 6. Roof top terrace. Natural swimming pool steps away.

Maison des Pierres Dorées, Oupia
Sleeps 4. Private Courtyard.

Languedoc Gites, Olonzac
2 rentals sleeps 4 and 6. Private terraces.

Properties for Sale

Minervois Properties for sale

Minervois Wine

Chateau Landure, between Aigues Vives and Mailhac

Excellent red and rosé wine. Bag in Box or Bottle.


bridge and church, minerve
Minerve, from river bed

tower and view of church, minerve
Minerve - old tower and church

old doorway, minerve
Old doorway

natural bridges - minerve
River Cesse natural bridge

cesse valley above minerve
Cesse valley above Minerve

dolmen near minerve

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