Canal du Midi
Lac de Jouarres
THE SURROUNDING AREA
(See Links page esp. Languedoc for
Bize is in the Minervois region (which is to be found in the Départements
of Aude and Hérault) and which is named after the captivating village
of Minerve - the former capital - 10kms. to the north,
that straddles two deep river gorges and was the site of the historic
siege and massacre of Cathar “Parfaits” by Simon de Montfort.
Towards the east and south are the towns of Béziers
and Narbonne with splendid cathedrals, excellent markets,
shops, museums and much else. Ten minutes drive further south are the
sandy beaches of the Mediterranean that run from Cap
d'Agde to Gruissan, and further north and south.
Forty minutes drive west is the mediaeval city of Carcassonne.
The City is spectacular, with magnificent walls, views, shops, restaurants,
museums. For castle devotees, go to the Corbières
and visit the peaks where Quéribus and Peyrepetuse
are found. These castles defy gravity and provide stunning views over
the surrounding hills and valleys towards the Pyrenees
Nearer are beautiful abbeys such as Fontfroide, near
Narbonne, (which also boasts a *Michelin restaurant) and Lagrasse
drive) with its Saturday market in the mediaeval market square as well
as river swimming.
Other good places to swim are the nearby Lac de Jouarres,
the village of Roquebrun (40 minutes’ away through
St.Chinian which is also well worth a visit) and miles of Mediterranean
coast, particularly at Sérignan and Leucate.
There are also many good wine tasting opportunities as
Bize lies amongst some well known areas of Appelation d’Origine
Contrôllée (AOC)- Côteaux du Languedoc,
Minervois, Corbières, Fitou,
Saint- Chinian, Faugères, Limoux
(famous for its sparking wine) and St-Jean Minervois
(a fortified Muscat). In fact more of the land is given over to viniculture
here than anywhere else in France.
Running through the village of Argeliers, some 5 km.
east of Bize, is the famous tree-lined Canal du Midi,
which links the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean and provides pleasantest
walks and bike rides along its tow-path. Picturesque villages on the canal
not far from Bize are Homps (on the road to Carcassonne)
where there are two-hour boat trips along the canal,
Le Someil (on the road to St. Marcel and Narbonne), where
houseboats can be hired, and Ventenac,
with its chateau offering tours of the wine cellar.
For those interested in Romanesque sculpture the unique
heptagonal 12th century church of Notre Dame at Rieux-Minervois,
drive from Bize, is well worth a visit. The beautifully carved capitals
are the work of the Maitre de Cabestany. His sculptures can also be seen
at the church of Saint Papoul and the monastery of Saint
Hilaire d’Aude south of Carcassonne. Saint Hilaire is also
an excellent source of Blanquette de Limoux, said to
be the forerunner of Champagne. A further 20 minutes’ drive north
of Rieux brings you to the charming town of Caunes with
its Abbey and quarries of red marble from which Napoleon’s tomb
is said to be made.