We stumbled across an amazing little village clinging to the side of a gorge, discovered after following the wrong road, as we looked for an isolated Gite that was for sale. All things happen for a reason, including finding this little heavenly spot and have a fabulous lunch here.
Days in the car, with little exercise, makes us crazy, like ‘rocking back and forth with your thumb in your mouth’, kind of crazy. A well deserved stretch of the legs, absorption of the splendid views, a simple pleasure found just in time.
The food was delicious, with duck confit, a fresh salad, and au gratin potatoes, plus a view of the gorge. Alfonz had his favourite, not even on the menu; they made him a baguette with ham and cheese. Priceless.
We have found the French to be very warm hearted, helpful and kind people. Some really do go out of their way for you. As long as you show effort, and can stay open to trying new experiences and maybe have the ability to laugh at yourself, just a bit. I was happy to find out that the myths of the French were in fact incorrect. We heard that the French only speak French in France and refuse to speak English any other languages, period.
I speak French, as broken as one gets as a customer, and the server has always been quick to try to speak English. Between the two of us, loads of hand movements, a few laughs we get by.
With the one exception, a lady who runs the Hippopotamus Restaurant in the Paris airport- she was very cruel, and could have easily places us by the window as we asked. Apparently, she had four invisible people that might be on their way. There were many other four-seater tables available but she decided that she would need to push the two two-seater tables together, if they arrive. We were placed up against a wall, in a high traffic area, and again we asked politely to be moved anywhere else, even the bar for dinner. By the third try, we gave up. We were so tired from all the travel around France we just wanted a glass of wine and a good 3 course French meal to sooth our souls. We ended up at the Sheraton Restaurant, and had the meal of the week! Nevertheless, not after I told the lady I did not need her food, and to stick her four vacant tables and her imaginary four customers where the sun do not shine! Again, everything happens for a reason. I wish I took a picture of the duck and cod we ate at the Sheraton. Simply superb! Kiss your fingers, lick your fingers delicious. In addition, the service was impeccable. The lady said we could sit anywhere we liked.
The town of Minerve is the capital of the Minervois wine region, and is a stop on many people’s travel tours going through the area. It is worth the winding roads along the mountain; looping back and forth following the riverbed, with often nail biting cliff views of the descending valley below. The River Cese is small compared to the damage it has done over millions of years, carving and scrapping through the earth, rock and stone. Near the village, the river disappears into a naturally carved tunnel. This is also a tourist attraction.
I hope to return one day when we have more time to truly enjoy the walking paths all around. The severity of the land with its sharp angels, trees barely hanging on, edged the deep gorge. As John, our realtor mentioned, it would be great to come back during a storm and witness the true nature of the river, crashing against the rocks and shores. It would be something!
The most famous thing that has happened here was in 1210, when the Cathars sought refuge in the village after the massacres. Here they had a strong defensive position, but still Viscount Guilhem of Minerve of the village negotiated surrender after 6 weeks to save his village folk. The Cathars who did not give up their faith once the village was turning over in besiege, were burned at the stake. Over a hundred of them!