IMG_3337As pretty as Minerve is, it has a dark, gruesome history. Back in June 1210, it was beseiged by the papal forces in the crusade against the Cathars. It was almost a year after the massacre at Béziers and the capitulation of Carcassonne, bigger towns about equidistant from Minerve. Refugees had fled to Minerve, which must have seemed like a safe place, nearly surrounded by sheer cliffs, the sole access by land guarded by a fortress. It was isolated, in the middle of nowhere, and so had been passed by during the original campaign.IMG_3395The leader of the crusade, Simon de Montfort, didn’t like having a refugee center around. He used Minerve’s natural defenses against it, setting up trébuchets on the opposite sides of the deep ravines that surround Minerve. He ordered Minerve to be destroyed. There’s a reconstruction of a trébuchet, dubbed Malvoisine, or Bad Neighbor, on the plateau opposite Minerve.IMG_3373 What broke the Minervois, however, was that their access to their only well was cut off and it was summer–no rain to carry them over. The residents were given a chance to convert but only three did; 140 were burned at the stake, probably in the dry riverbed of the Cesse. It was the first collective stake burning of the crusade. They weren’t tied up but marched down rue des Martyrs (Martyr Street) and had to throw themselves into the pyre.

Good thing we aren’t so barbaric anymore, eh?

Today, Minerve is the picture of calm and charm.IMG_3387IMG_3359IMG_3357The rivers must be something when they are high. Think of the force it took to carve these cliffs.IMG_3363

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The very porous local limestone.

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You can see the waves that water left in the sand.

Not far away, not very well marked, is the Curiosité de Lauriole, which I have been dying to see. I don’t have good photos of it, because it’s something you have to see in person, though there are videos online. The road looks like it’s inclining ever so slightly, but in fact it’s going downhill.

I took a ball, but it failed miserably because of the wind. Then I put my car in the middle of the road, stopped completely and let my foot off the brake, expecting to roll gently forward. Instead, I rolled gently backward. I’m all in for cheap thrills.IMG_3364Back to Minerve. I appreciate a street with an archway. I always wonder about the title to the house that goes above it. How do they deal with the street part? The notaries of France must be very creative. When we were looking for property to buy, we visited a house in a little village where access to a bedroom was via a small door–so small that even a shortie like me had to bend way down. How would you even get a mattress in there? And to get to that room you had to go through another bedroom. Crazy.

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It looks too low to walk through, eh?
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Mais non! It’s plenty high.
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View from the other side.

But the craziest part was that I realized we were above a neighboring grange. Who owned the grange? Someone else. What if they wanted to tear it down? You couldn’t have the bedroom just hanging there, suspended in the air. That place was nuts in other ways, too. I wonder who ever bought it.

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This is called the Poterne Sud, the southern gate to the town.

And we also saw a house, just next to la Cité of Carcassonne, where the bathroom was down some steps, kind of a half basement, under the neighbor’s house. I asked about it and the owners said, oh, the neighbors are nice. (My reaction: ?!?!?!?) The owners were a certain kind of French older couple you find in rustic places. They were dedicated smokers, both with voices of gravel. He wore a gold chain and pinkie ring. They loved Johnny Hallyday (the French Elvis) and had posters and “paintings” of him all over. One might have been velvet. I wonder whether they got to hear Johnny’s concert in Carcassonne–his last–just steps from their house. I think they sold before. IMG_3378We never know how close we came to having luck, do we? It’s one thing to be in the right place, but you also have to be there at the right time.IMG_3380IMG_3342IMG_3350IMG_3352

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This was ridden by a man as old as the scooter.

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19 thoughts on “More Minerve

  1. Lovely photos! All that stonework soothes my soul – necessary after the horrific history! Why is the worst barbarism always committed in the name of religion? (said the woman who works at a theological seminary…) Anyway, I have to ask what a “grange” is? I’ll be smiling all day thinking of the Johnny Halladay-loving Frenchman with his gold chain and pinky ring living in the basement ….As always, thanks for my little desktop-trip-to-La-Belle-France!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I LOVE THE ARCHWAYS AND THE STONEWORK AND COBBLESTONES FOR THE STREETS!SUCH BEAUTY………………..
    YOUR TEST OF THE CAR WAS GREAT!!!
    Enjoyed this VERY MUCH!
    I am WAY BEHIND on my BLOG READINGS as you can tell………..
    HAD houseguests and well NOTHING GOT DONE!
    XX

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The cruelty of that time leaves you breathless. Mind you, many years ago I stayed in a friend’s family house in a similar tiny village high in the hills not far from Montpellier. Only about thirty years earlier the German army had marched the men and boys from the village up to the hills and shot them all in response to the efforts of the maquis. Tempus fugit.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The crusade committed horrific atrocities in the name of religion. Good that tranquility can be found so many centuries later. I enjoy your field trips to these magical places. I have tasty memories of a lunch at the Michelin starred La Terrasse with a spectacular view. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Malvoisine for sure!! The mind boggles at the determination to throw yourself onto a pyre, instead of just converting…Perhaps the crossing-your-fingers-behind-your-back superstition hadn’t been born yet?

    Anyhoo, these covered arches and winding access points are reminiscent of the Greek hilltop villages I’ve seen, too. So many questions about the practical & legal aspects!…Such a gorgeous village and tour, thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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