Getting to know the Cathars in Minerve

Today’s destination is Minerve, a tiny historic town in the heart of wine country known for the massacre inflicted by Simon de Montfort during the 1210 crusades against the Cathars. It takes some time and switchbacks to wind slowly up the valley. Eventually, we see the big blue “P” for parking and pull into a surface lot whose size lets us know this is a popular tourist spot.

We park and follow the path, until we turn the corner and see the steep decline of the way in. Concerned for the lungs of three people who have been coughing like crazy for the past three days and will have to come back up that hill, we split up. The hale and hearty press on. The halt and the lame head back to the car to see if we can find another way. But getting out of the parking lot poses a challenge. Jim pulls up to the ticket machine to scan his ticket. It beeps, but the crossing arm doesn’t move. Again and again. Jane gets irked with that “oh for crying out loud” thing wives do, and jumps out to do it herself. Same result. Then, their brilliant idea: go back to the entrance, take another ticket, and try to dart out before the arm crashes down on the car. Liz covers her eyes. But that doesn’t work either. We head back around to try again, and see another tourist at a pay station before the exit. A-ha’s all around.

After some further driving around, and help from someone who lives here, we learn there IS no other way in and that we must walk. So back into the parking lot we go, and head down the hill.

minerveWe are so glad we make the trek. It’s a magical place, with a river that disappears underground just before the village. The streets are steep and winding, and the village is protected with double walls and scary overhanging ledges. But this was still not enough to protect the Cathars from old Simon, who set up his catapults to attack the village well. A model of one of these trebuchets — named “malevoisine” or “bad neighbor” — is there to help us get the picture. Not much is left of the fortress, except for the “candela,” which is a skinny tower perched on an impossible rock.

After exploration, we stop for lunch at Point Windy (not really it’s name), a cafe with a great view but so much wind it requires one-handed eating — one hand to eat, and the other to hold down your plate.

We drive home for a rest. Charlie and Jane walk down the hill to the wine coop and buy four bottles of the local wine. Then, we sit around the pool, listening to the history of the Cathars, which Charlie and Mike read to us from the Internet.

A good day, all in all.


Click on any photo below for full screen slideshow.

SWIPE or use spacebar to PLAY/PAUSE. Arrows also work.

Minerve, France

Flickr Album Gallery Powered By: WP Frank

One comment

  1. Jude

    Looks like an amazing walk, walk, walk.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>