CARCASSONNE
MINERVE
OPPIDUM D'ENSERUNE
PEYREPERTUSE
St CHINIAN CAVE
ST CHINIAN MARKET
ROQUEBRUN
ST JEAN DE MINERVOIS

THE LANGUEDOC - A QUICK HISTORY (from Wikipedia)
The Medterranean coast of the Languedoc has been settled by the Greeks, Phoenicians and Romans, and invaded by the Alamanni, Vandals, Visigoths, and Saracens.
Languedoc was known in the Middle Ages as the county of Toulouse, an independent county which was in theory part of the kingdom of France.
In the 12th century, Languedoc was the center of the Cathar religious movement. The Roman Catholic Church declared them heretics, and the Albigensian Crusade wiped them out. As a consequence, the county of Toulouse was taken by the crown of France in 1271, (the county of Toulouse was a vassal of the crown of France, but had many connections with the Crown of Aragon, which included Catalonia) and has been part of France ever since.
Later the name given to the area was Languedoc, literally meaning "language of oc", from the word "yes" in the local Occitan language ("oc", as opposed to "oïl", later "oui", in the north of France).
The kings of France made Languedoc one of the provinces of the kingdom, and established the parlement of Languedoc in Toulouse. The parlement and the province were abolished at the time of the French Revolution, like all the other parlements and provinces of France.

THINGS NOT TO MISS

CARCASSONNE. World famous medieval city, about an hours drive from Saint-Chinian. Well worth a visit even though it gets very busy during the summer months. Bear in mind that it's a bit of a con because it was rebuilt to the condition you see now about 150 years ago by Eugene Viollet-le-Duc, amid some controversy, particularly concerning the slate roofs, which were originally tiled.

CITE DE MINERVE. No such problems at Minerve. Beautiful little town set in a valley. Completely pedestrianised - you reach the town on foot crossing the bridge. Dates from the 11th Century.

OPPIDUM D'ENSERUNE. Roman ruins near Montady not far from Beziers. There is amazing view of a dried out salt lake with the fields radiating out from a central point (see photo).

CATHAR CASTLES. The castles mostly nestle in the foothills of the Pyrenees, a little over an hours drive from Saint-Chinian. The castle at Peyrepertuse is particularly stunning, as it appears to have been carved out the living rock.


 

VINEYARDS & WINE
Saint-Chinian is right in the middle of the wine producing area of south western France. There are vineyards as far as the eye can see. It is some 25km north of Beziers. It has its own Appellation Controlée which produces mostly red wines, although they also produce some very good rosé. Saint-Chinian has been known for wine producing since the 14th Century. The first vines were apparently planted in the 9th Century!
The Appellation Controlée represents about 20 villages, and the main grapes used are Carignan, Syrah, Grenache, Mouvedre and Cinsault.
The Saint-Chinian wine Cooperative sells examples of the local wine at very reasonable prices. As well as bottled wine, you can also buy their 'vrac' (straight out of the barrel) in 5 litre containers. The Vin de Pays de l'Hérault (red) is particularly good drinking - and good value at €7 for 5 litres.
Some 15km from Saint-Chinian is the village of St. Jean de Minervois, world famous for their dessert wine Muscat de St. Jean de Minervois. Buy a bottle for your stay and drink it as the French do - as an aperitif - chilled on ice!

MARKETS
There is a market in Saint-Chinian on Thurday and Sunday mornings. The market sells all kinds of farm produce - cheeses, meat, fish, bread, charcuterie and vegetables. The Sunday market is larger, and also sells clothes, pots and pans, and leather goods.

MEDITERRANEAN BEACHES
The closest beach is Serignan Plage, some 30 minutes drive from Saint-Chinian. It is a beautiful sandy beach with stunning views of Cape d'Agde to the east and the Pyrenees to the west. Best of all, it is rarely crowded. You can even drive your car onto the beach of you take care.

ROQUEBRUN
Roquebrun is some 20 km north east from Saint-Chinian. The tower that overlooks the town is the sole remaining trace of a Carolingian castle built to protect the inhabitants in AD900. You can also swim in the river here or hire a canoe.

 

 

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