Bize-Minervois is a charming little village that finds itself amid vineyards and olive groves while overlooking the banks of the Cesse River. Being a ‘circulade’, the quaint streets will automatically bring you to the Place de l’Église with its 12th-century church. So have a stroll around and experience authentic French life as it is meant to be.
Place aux Herbes
Crossing the ‘Porte Saint-Michel’, Bize-Minervois’ ancient main gate, dating around the 8th century, leads to the Place aux Herbes. This small square used to be the place for gardeners to come and sell their produce. Chéri and I love going to the Café du Midi, where you can have a simple lunch menu for only 13.50 euros on weekdays. Of course, accompanied with a glass of the area’s Minervois AOC appellation that is.
Most streets lead to the church, and I normally go via the Rue des Remparts. Taking a left onto the Place de la Paille will bring you to a lovely tower, called ‘tour dite d’Attila’. It hides a passageway to the Rue d’Église. The church was one of the first buildings of medieval Bize-Minervois. However, the village dates back much further, at least 40,000 years! In 1827, fossilised human bones were found in the nearby ‘Les Grottes du Moulin’ cave, proving that Neanderthals lived in this area.
Walking around the church, I discovered a beautiful wall painting I had never seen before. That said, it’s worth keeping your eyes open to spot the little jokes that the inhabitants have placed here and there. Like, for example, the vegetarian barbecue. By the way, the ‘Bizois’ traditionally are called ‘lous mounstres’, meaning the monstres of Occitan. Not because they are hideous, but because of an ancient tradition. Every New Year’s Eve, with the public lighting turned off, the monsters came out at the stroke of twelve. This parade of residents made some serious noise with pots and pans and other ironwork, which especially scared the kids.
It’s only a short walk through Bize-Minervois. But you could combine it with a walk to the neighbouring village of Montouliers (just about 5 kilometres away) or a visit to the olive co-operative L’Oulibo. Or you could take a plunge in one of the natural pools of the Cesse. In any case, you will see some great moments here. Also, it’s on the way to Minerve, one of the most beautiful villages of France. So, you see, there are enough options to keep everyone happy!