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“Minerve - the diamond of Cathar history in the South of France”

Le site cathare de Minerve
Ranked #1 of 3 things to do in Minerve
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 12 April 2014

Surrounded by two deep gorges cut from the rivers “Brian” and the “Cesse,” the ancient village of Minerve is perched atop a limestone plateau and is an amazing site to see. It was built with stones over 800 years ago and you can still see the ancient boulders gripping the canyon sides. It is an old Cathar bastion destroyed by Simon de Montfort during his siege, as there was only one way in or out until modern times built a bridge allowing us easy access. You can get there via several different routes and cycling is a great way to arrive. Visiting the village is very calm and pleasant, as the number of cars is limited to the very small, local community as the streets are narrow, cobbled and few.

Within the old ‘cite’ you will find remains of the fortress, an eight-sided tower, an old rampart walk and several wine-tasting rooms with some great AOC Minervois wines dating back over centuries. There are dining establishments including a great restaurant with a terrace overlooking the Brian river gorge, and you’ll also find several snack bars & some artisan shops.

There are several paths down into the adjoining riverbeds, often dry and empty of water making it easy to walk through the underground passageways and explore natural and man-made caves. One of the passageways sits beneath a limestone vault leading to the postern, a column built in memory of the Cathar downfall. And yet another cave runs through the mountainside, cut by the old river and now a mass of balancing stones piled one atop the other in honor of all who pass through.

Worth a visit!

Thank LaDolceVitaAzille_FR
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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113 - 117 of 442 reviews

Reviewed 6 February 2014

Today we drove up to the little mountain village of Minerve. Minerve was another Cathar site that in 1210 was beseiged by Simon De Montfort and 7000 Albigensian crusaders. The village held out for six weeks until Montfort succeeded in destroying their only well with a trebuchet. Faced with either renouncing their faith or execution, 140 Cathars, many who had sought refuge in the village after the massacre at Béziers, chose death by burning. There is a monument to their sacrifice near the 13th century church still standing there.

Originally, the village was fortified but only a single crumbling octagonal tower, dubbed the Candela, remains. The main gateway to the city is a beautiful stone bridge with high arches. There is a small vineyard on the canyon floor below the bridge but I think most of the village inhabitants now make their living from visitors. The narrow cobblestoned streets look very much like they did in the 13th century. Now days, though, there is a wine tasting room with various local wines available for sale, a book store, a couple of gift shops featuring locally crafted items and other quality gifts, the shop of a local sculptor and a small but very well organized museum.

The village sits astride a deep gorge carved by the River Cesse through the local mountains that is punctuated with caves that have yielded a variety of prehistoric fossils. Although not all the specimens displayed in the museum are labeled, I recognized the skull of a giant cave bear, several skulls of prehistoric ibex, a lot of fossilized trilobytes and even a Neanderthal skull. There were hand axes and other neolithic tools and an extensive collection of geologic specimens, particularly various types and colors of quartz and crystals.

There were a few items from the Roman era and skulls of victims from the Cathar period that suffered obvious head wounds from medieval weapons. The museum also had a miniature diorama of the 13th century seige that really demonstrated the hopeless situation of the Cathar villagers.

I also enjoyed looking at the pottery examples recovered from the site, too. As part of our museum admission the caretaker unlocked the 13th century church and let us look around. The construction is fairly simple stone block but it does have a few stained glass windows although they are not original to the church. The caretaker pointed to one and said it was from the 17th century. The marble altar is considered one of the oldest in Europe and dates back to the 5th century CE. How it ended up in this church 800 years later, though, I'm not sure.

2  Thank mharrsch
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 January 2014

Driving from Carcassone to Montpelier we found this lovely little town. We pulled in on New Years Day and it was as quiet s can be but we were lucky enough to find a delicious creperie on a pedestrian street.

1  Thank Ed G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 January 2014

I recommend staying overnight and exploring the town on your own. The hotel we stayed at, mentioned in Rick Steeves, was bare bones lodging but the food was good.

There are hiking trails all around and you will see lots of people with trekking poles and clothes.

Thank john y
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 November 2013

Early November so the village was quiet but hot and sunny so maybe my opinion would be less favourable on a crowded day. Beautiful little village, spectacular location and the excitement of exploring the dark natural bridge, river beds and little alleys. Take your children and stop off for a wine tasting en route.

2  Thank Shipsagent
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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