Driving through gently rolling hills and vineyards, at the hamlet of Cabezac,
just off the D5 between Beziers and Carcassonne, visitors will notice
the Oulibo, a co-operative that produces some of the best olives and olive
oils in France. About 2 kms. down this road lies the small and picturesque
village of Bize.
The village has a butcher, baker, two grocers, post office, hairdressers,
newsagents, sweet shop and a wine cellar. There is also a bar and several
restaurants. Every Wednesday morning there is a market by the river.
Running through the village is the Cesse, a river dammed here to provide
a clean (tested by the local authorities), natural swimming pool with
grassy banks bordered by weeping willows, which is constantly being refreshed
as the river flows downstream. It is attended by lifeguards in the summer
and there is a small café/crêperie with outdoor seating.
There is another dammed pool about 1 km upstream.
Bize is close to Autoroute exits at Narbonne, Lésignan and Béziers
International airports are at Bezier (30 mins) Carcassonne (45 mins) Perpignan
(60 mins) Montpellier (80 mins.) Toulouse (90 mins.) and Girona is 120
Eurostar from St.Pancras, London, connects at Lille or Paris with the
TGV direct to Narbonne where there is also a motorail terminal.
At the centre of the walled village is the church that dates
back to the 13th century, as does the Porte Saint-Michel.
The walls of village you see now date back to Mediaeval times
as the whole region was on a historical crossroads, and was occupied successively
by Etruscans, Greeks, Phoenicians and of course Romans who ruled Gaul
from their Capital of Narbonne from 60 BC to 476 AD. There were further
invasions under the Romans and following their fall the area was occupied
by Saracens in 900 AD. After the massacres of the Cathers the region changed
hands many times until the Edict of Nantes in 1598 ended the Protestant
Catholic Wars of Religion by guaranteeing freedom of worship.
Today the moats have been filled up and
transformed into gardens and houses although tunnels from the castle (Le
Logis Colbert), originally used to escape the marauders , survive.