Minerve is a tiny, picturesque Cathar Languedoc village, surrounded by ancient vineyards, located on the confluence of the Cesse and Briant rivers. It is a UNESCO Heritage site.
It has the feeling of a sculpture carved into the rocks that the sculptor didn’t quite finish.
It’s unusual in so many ways, one of which is that the Cesse River disappears underground the city at times. The village is perched above the meeting of the rivers, over a limestone gorge.
The population of Minerve is 122. During the winter it may be even less. We saw two residents and three construction workers. Just as we were leaving, two German visitors arrived. Otherwise we were alone in Minerve. It was so lovely.
Unfortunately, absolutely everything was closed. The cafes were closed. The museum was closed. The shops were closed. The restaurants were closed. OMG, even the restrooms were closed. All boarded up, except for one tiny, charming bookstore called Paroli that served tea. The proprietor was handsome and buried in a book (and he spoke only enough English to take our tea order). He had a big white dog who wanted to go out and play with the other dogs from the village, who seem to run in play groups.
Minerve is famous for the 1210 massacre by Simon de Montfort during the Crusades. There are a few remnants of battles past, including a huge catapult just across the river.
There are signs of life in most of the homes. Perhaps the people who live in Minerve are involved with the vast wine growing region called Minervois, which is, I think, my favorite wine region so far.
Although we were quite hungry and thirsty and badly in need of a lua, we spent a wonderful, rewarding day exploring Minerve.
- Paula Rath