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!
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