Stunning Wines from the Minervois,Languedoc

By: Mike Bowditch

The Minervois is always different: plane and sea, heath and mountains,and never ending vineyards. Grapes have been cultivated in the Minervois sincethe age of the Gallo-Romans. Today Minervois is the most famous wine-growingarea of the Languedoc-Roussillon in the south of France. But there is much moreto discover than wine: prehestorical grottos, countless Roman churches, theabbey of Caunes near Rieux-Minervois, beautiful villages along the Canal duMidi.((

Whether walking or riding a bike alongside it, gazingup to the clouds while lazing on the deck of a canal boat while it winds itsway along its tranquil path, picnicking on its banks, or enjoying the pleasureof a Minervois wine in one of its many restaurants, the Canal du Midi offers anescape into tranquility and aesthetic beauty.

In the 17th century, with only shovels, over 12 000men made possible the seemingly impossible dream of Pierre-Paul Riquet, tocreate a waterway that would link the Mediterranean and Atlantic seas. The360km stretch of water, which is the Canal du Midi encompasses over 300structures. It is a navigable route incorporating aqueducts, bridges (two ofwhich are canal bridges which cross the rivers of the Cesse and Répundre), tunnels,paths for horses to pull boats, resting areas for travelers and animals andmost importantly 156 locks, many of which have become tourist stops andpromenades today.

The canal, a sacred path, marvelous under its foliageof high plane trees, has allowed generations of locals to export more easilytheir products, most importantly their wine! Nowadays, the Canal du Midi standsas not only an engineering masterpiece but also a beautiful work of art,appreciated by locals and tourists alike.

The Minervois belongs to both the Departments Aude and Hèrault,with its 68 communities being the smallest administrative region of France(Nowadays Minervois is the wine-growing region number one ofLanguedoc-Roussillon; first of all due to the seven communities producingA.O.C. wines, with the best of it being Pic de Loup in Hérault. ((Stillnowadays Minervois is a land of vineyards and agriculture, with a splendidlandscape and beautiful villages and small cities along the Canal du Midi.Tourism is nowadays if utmost importance for the Minervois and the landscapeoffers everything to attract visitors.

One of the major landmarks of the Minervois, the citéof Minerve has been widely visited and re-visited, photographed and painted,written about numerous times and is also listed as one of the most beautifulvillages in France. It is an old unassailable city, impressive not only for itslocation, perched on a rock surrounded by a two deep gorges, but for its wildhistory which includes the cathar burnings of 1210. However, long before thistime, throughout the Brian and the Cesse rivers, prehistoric life was rich. Injust about every cave throughout these gorges remnants of prehistoric life hasbeen found. Nowadays, Minerve is a lively village that celebrates largely infestival. La fête de la Pierre (The festival of the rock) in August and LesChemins de Minerve (the roads to Minerve) in October and November.

Modern Troubadours (street performers) have changed alot, with their modern clothes and new songs, however they reappear intraditional form during times of festival to please the young and old in thisbeautiful environment of old stones.

The circular village of Aigne. Another site you cannotmiss! The moment you walk through the main entrance of the circular village youare in a time warp reaching back to the Middle Ages. An overwhelming sense ofhistory is felt throughout the entire Minervois and this circular village hascertainly seen the hardships and the good times, which have marked the region.The historical buildings and village is faithfully maintained within a wavylandscape of little hills (les mourels).

The main street snakes itsway into the centre of the village where sculptors, painters and other artistsinfluence the village atmosphere. The church, like an

open history book,dedicated to Saint Martin, has a XI century old Roman nave, XIV century gothicstyle, and XVIII century old fresco. Wander around like the folk of the pastdid, centuries ago, when strolling peacefully was common.

There are also greatopportunities to invest in the Minervois. It has probably the best selection ofquaint, characterful villages in the whole of the Languedoc. If you would liketo buy a cottage, house or villa in the region, have a look at the facts.

The Languedoc has seen someof the highest rises in property prices in the whole of France over the last 7years.? Cottages and village houseshave been turned into Gite and B&B (Chambre d’Hote) as visitor numbers havebeen swelling over the last 5 years. To buy a house/ cottage in need of work,you will need to invest about 50 000 euros to acquire the property. Then, a sumto invest of around the same amount, will give you a beautiful home to live in.

It just remains to say,that the Minervois, in the Languedoc, south of France, is one of the mostbeautiful regions in the whole of France. Come soon, invest in it, and enjoy agreat quality of life.

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