Are you dreaming of a country home in France that’s surrounded by vineyards and where the local wine is something to write home about? Then perhaps you should consider buying a property in the Minervois.
Deep in the South West of France in Languedoc, stretching across the Aude and Hérault departments, is the Minervois. A well-respected wine region, but unspoilt and undiscovered in comparison with areas like Bordeaux or Provence, the Minervois’ 5,000 hectares are home to glorious wine, fascinating locations and captivating countryside.
From hidden châteaux to village houses adorned with local red marble, the properties available in this region are as compelling as its historic roots and gentle way of life.
An “up-and-coming Vaucluse”
“Personally, I like to think of the Minervois as an up-and-coming Vaucluse,” says Julie Reaney, a Home Hunts consultant who has lived in the region for the last ten years. “It is rugged and rustic, from the foothills of the Montagne Noire (Black Mountains) down to the valley and the Canal du Midi, where the vegetation shifts from heavy forests to vineyards and the climate changes from cool to hot.”
With golden Mediterranean beaches around an hour away and the closest ski resort a two-and-half-hour drive in the Pyrénées, weekends or day trips spent skiing, swimming, hiking and cycling are part of everyday life in the Minervois.
Exploring the Grotte de Cabrespine, which is filled with crystals and rock formations, is a visit that Julie highly recommends, as is a trip to Lac de la Cavayère, otherwise known as “Carcassonne Plage”, for water sports, sandy beaches and family-friendly activities.
The Canal du Midi is one of the most spectacular sites in the region. The brainchild of Pierre-Paul Riquet, this 240km weaving waterway, runs from Sète up to Toulouse and was completed in 1681. Passing by the UNESCO-listed fairy-tale city of Carcassonne, it flows through the hilly countryside of the Aude and, at one point, through the charming La Somail.
Where to buy property in the Minervois
A quaint, picturesque village, La Somail is a good place to hire a canal boat as it offers a “lock-free” round-trip journey through the Minervois. For those looking to buy property in Languedoc, La Somail offers good value for money and is the perfect location from which to enjoy regular holidays in the area.
Cruising the Canal du Midi is just one of the many special activities you can do in the Minervois. “You can cycle through the plains and mountains, enjoy wine tours and tastings, eat at great restaurants, and have wonderful picnics by the river, where you can also kayak and swim,” says Julie. “Horse riding enthusiasts can ride through the mountains and along the coast, and hikers can explore beautiful natural landscapes to their hearts’ content.”
Another location which Julie recommends to property hunters is Bize. Located on the River Cesse with a pebbled beach, it’s a place where families and friends swim and relax during the holidays. A vibrant market town, Bize is renowned for its olive festival in July, where wine tasting and local delicacies can be enjoyed, and live music evenings are regular events throughout the summer.
Around half-an-hour from Carcassonne and Narbonne, Olonzac, the capital of the Minervois, is an excellent base from which to discover the region. Being slightly larger than some of the surrounding smaller, quainter villages, it has all the amenities and facilities required for daily life, as well as a bustling weekly market.
Just twenty minutes west of Olonzac, at the foot of the Black Mountains, lies the medieval town of Caunes-Minervois, which is famous all over the world for its red marble. Louis XIV was renowned for extracting huge blocks from the quarries, which was used in many famous buildings, including the Grand Trianon in Versailles and the Opera House in Paris, as well as the interiors of Caunes’ Benedictine abbey and buildings in the neighbourhood.
With quaint, narrow streets and a market three times a week, this is a popular destination for tourists and a wonderful place to live. For a special night out, dinner at La Table d’Emilie is one of the most highly-rated restaurants in the area. With a friendly ambiance and passionate chef cooking up seasonal delights, it is popular with locals and tourists alike.
If you are looking to buy property in the Minervois, visit Home Hunts’ portfolio at www.home-hunts.com, but to speak to a consultant about your specific property needs and other villages of interest in the region, call +33 (0)970 44 66 43.