Minerve has been classified as one of the most beautiful villages in France (Les Plus Beaux Villages de France). It is only about 20 km away from Saint Chinian, so we decided to see what all the fuss was about. It was another cold day, so we were glad to get in the car with the heater on for a while. The car seems to be the warmest place to be these days.
It was bitterly cold in Minerve. The town has a population of about 120 and there wasn’t a soul around when we got there. Only locals are allowed to drive into town. Visitors have to park in a large carpark on the outskirts of town. As we were the only car in the carpark, we knew it wasn’t going to be busy. Minerve is indeed a very pretty village. It is perched (precariously) on a cliff top where two deep river gorges meet.
Minerve was smashed to pieces during the crusades as the town harboured a few Cathars, that the pope at the time thought were a bit undesirable. Not much is left of the original village except for a tall tower on the edge of town.
A beautiful bridge crosses one of the river gorges. Not to be outdone, nature has also created its own bridges with the river passing through the hills via underground river caves.
About the only thing open in town were the public toilets. As we couldn’t get a meal there, we decided to drive on to Olonzac, a larger village closer to Saint Chinian. Most places were closed, but we managed to find a restaurant open and settled down for a pleasant lunch before heading off home.