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Minerve, a cathar city

In Languedoc, between the Montagne Noire and the Canal du Midi, the Cathar city of Minerve offers an imposing entrance to the Haut-Languedoc Regional Natural Park, and is listed
as one of the 'most beautiful villages of France'.

In the South of France, don't miss a visit to the village of Minerve, perched on a rocky headland and surrounded by vineyards boasting the Minervois AOC label. In the Middle Ages, this powerful city was a refuge for the Cathar heretics. The natural bridges carved out by the Cesse and Brian rivers
make this a really remarkable site.

A tumultuous past

Minerve en hiver - Hérault, le Languedoc © Photothèque Hérault Tourisme - Christel Gauthier

The site has been inhabited since
prehistoric times, and Minerve was once
an imposing medieval Cathar city, built
by the Viscounts of Minerve.
After the pillaging of Béziers in July 1209, the siege of Minerve was an important stage in the battle against the 'Land of the Cathars'. In 1210, Simon de Montfort, military leader of the crusade against the Cathar heretics (the Albigensian Crusade), besieged the town. Bombarded and dying of thirst, the Perfects (as the Cathars were known) refused to renounce their faith and were burnt at the stake. Today, a stele reminds visitors of this troubled period of Languedoc history.

Exceptional vineyards

Minerve en hiver, entourée par ses vignobles - Hérault, le Languedoc © Photothèque Hérault Tourisme - Christel Gauthier

 


Minerve is also recognised for its great wines. The Romans planted the first vines here, and, for centuries, the Minervois area has produced a robust, full-bodied and fruity wine that improves with age.

Minerve, a typically authentic village

Rue au cœur de Minerve - Hérault, le Languedoc © Photothèque Hérault Tourisme - S. Lucchese

 

 

 

On its rocky spur, this stone-built village nestles amongst little valleys in the garrigue (Mediterranean scrubland), vineyards, olive groves and chestnut trees.

Captivating and typically authentic, with little gardens and streets paved with pebbles, Minerve is also popular with artists and craftsmen.

A spectacular natural decor

Minerve, son pont et ses formations géologiques particulières à sa base - Hérault, le Languedoc © Photothèque Hérault Tourisme - Sabine Foucault

Minerve is one of the most remarkable sites in Languedoc. A long geological history and the relentless work of the water, as it carved out the limestone of the 'causse' (plateau), led to the formation of narrow canyons. The Brian and Cesse rivers, with their changeable flow, are what built this rocky fortress, and, even more surprising, the rivers created natural bridges, as they tunnelled through the rock. You can even walk through them
during the dry season.