We are lucky to have some stunning scenery and activities on our doorstep. Here are some of our favourites.
The village of Bize Minervois is at the heart of the area from which it takes it’s name. The River Cesse runs down from the Montagnes Noire creating a series of pools and waterfalls ideal for swimming, with the best spot right in the centre of Bize. The river beach is popular with tourists and guests alike and is manned by a lifeguard throughout the summer. It’s the perfect spot for a picnic and the cafe and bar is within 20m should you need a cool drink or ice cream.
A little way from the village toward Agel you can find a series of pools, weirs and waterfalls to explore and watch the kingfishers and wagtails dart along the banks.
The Surrounding Area
There are so many villages worth checking out in the area, but a few of our favourites are:
One of the most famous villages in the area and is built on the gorge above the convergence of the rivers Cesse and Brian, it was the site of a siege and subsequent gruesome end for the Cathar population in the 13th Century.
Only ten minutes away and is a pretty ‘circulade’ village with medieval cobbled streets and a thriving artist quarter.
On the Canal Robine a ten minute drive fro Le Bobo. Towering Aleppo pine trees line the paths along the canal and a series of locks drop the level of the water. The village has a handful of shops and a nice bar for a refreshment
is home of the wines of the same name, and nestles in the Orb valley with a range of cafes and restaurants to stop for a coffee or lunch. The Sunday morning and Thursday evening markets are highlights.
stands high above the Minervois, perched on the hill above the Orb River. It is filled with flowers in summertime and peppered with cafes and is a great spot to spend a couple of hours walking or swimming. Canoe trips are popular. Further up the river Olargues is another worthwhile stop.
lies to the south of Bize with a majestic monastery overlooking the Orbieu River. The old village is a great place to enjoy a pleasant stroll in the shade. En route stop off at Ribaute for swimming and watch locals dive from the rocks and bridge.
is a small town to the north of Beziers famed for it’s ‘brocantes’ – antique shops – which are scattered around the old town and the surrounding streets. There is also a huge market which takes over the entire town each Saturday. Stroll the cobbled streets, browse the host of independant stores and stop by the Maison des Métiers d’Art which hosts work of local artists and artisans
The Canal Du Midi
Bize is only a ten minute drive away from the famous Canal du Midi. We are lucky to be near the most beautiful section of the canal and you can enjoy walking or cycling between the villages on the footpath. Our favourite spots include:
A pretty village with some great restaurants and home to Nichol Boat hire. There is also a little bateau which takes guests on a short cruise a couple of times a day in peak season. It is also the home of the most incredible antique book shop, Le Trouve Tout du Livre
Bize is a short drive from the Mediterranean with a host of ports and beaches to enjoy. The Spanish Costa Brava is only 90 minutes to the south and the towns and villages of the Etang de Thau the same in the other direction. In between there are many spots to suit everyone:
Peyriac de Mer
It is very busy in August.
For a full day trip you may want to head further south to Colliure or Banyuls
There are so many! Part of the fun on holiday is finding these little gems, but we can point you in the direction of some of our favourites
Bize itself has a number of dining options should you want to leave the car behind.
Chez Jean Marc across the river and a five minute walk from Le Bobo, is popular with guests. Even closer are the Cafe du Midi in the old village and Brasserie le Bizan on the promenade, the latter is also the village bar and has a take out pizza option. La Selette is in the hamlet of Cabezac 2km from the village, as is the tabac.
Le Terminus is in the nearby village of Cruzy, as the name suggests this restaurant is a converted railway station on the now defunct Minervois line. The food is of a very high standard with a number of menus at various prices. Menu du jour at lunchtime is fantastic value and particularly enjoyable on the terrace under the trees on a warm day.
Cambuse du Saunier once was was an oyster shack on the etang in Gruissan and is now a bustling mecca for seafood lovers. Informal bench seating, cold house white and the freshest seafood overlooking the pink waters of the salt pans, what could be better? The assiette du saunier is a selection of fruit de mer and great value. Order a plate of the house fries too!
La Tour is up a steep side street in the village of Montady and this unassuming little restaurant belies the wonderful food and fantastic ambience once inside. The menu du jour at lunchtime is unbelievable value and dinner on the terrace overlooking the Oppidum de Enserune is an experience not to be missed. Book in advance
L’Auberge de la Croisade is a canal side spot with a great menu and a lovely terrace just off the D5 on the way to Quarante. It’s a pleasure to watch the boats drift by and enjoy lunch or dinner from a great menu
L’Escale du Somail s our personal choice in Le Somail. The little enclosed garden terrace is lovely and shaded by vines. The menu is good and the daily specials are great value. There is also an ice cream parlour on site and a little terrace for drinks
Lo Cagarol is a short drive away in Aigne. The little roadside restaurant has built a great reputation in the last few years, Fabulous service and the chalkboard lunch choice is great value, especially since it includes a quatre du vin in the price
La Table & La Petit Table The former has just gained a Michelin star, the latter is the little sister restaurant with a bistro style menu. Established by the owners of the Castigno Chateau, La Table has a tasting menu which attracts foodies from as far as Belgium (where the young chefs were recruited) A great treat for a special occasion. Advance booking is definitely recommended
Relais Chantovent is just up the road in Minerve and another spot for a special event, or just a lovely lunch. If you can reserve a table on the terrace overlooking the gorge all the better.
Fetes, Events and Markets
The French love nothing more than a party and every village has at least one ‘fete’ every year, and some have many more. In Bize Minervois we host the annual ‘Fete des Oliviers’ organised by the nearby olive co-operative, L’Ouilibo.
Stalls line the streets over a weekend in July and a stage appears on the promenade for live music. L’Oulibo offers tours daily and has a great shop for every olive product you can imagine, and many you didn’t know existed.
There are literally hundreds of markets as most villages have one at least once a week.
Les Halles in Narbonne is open every morning. The covered forum style building has the best selection of local foods and a selection of restaurants and bars to try the produce. Every Saturday and Thursday the market spills onto the canal side and vendors sell everything from flowers to books and hats to tablecloths.
St Chinian Sunday morning market is most popular with tourists and a number of stalls sell linen clothes and leather goods as well as those with fruit and veg and the various artisanal foods from the region. There is a wine cave in the same square where you can taste the local red and rose wines.
Olonzac hosts a large market on Tuesday mornings. The village is pedestrianised from early so park in the designated area and stroll into town
Vide Greniers – literally ‘empty attics’ – are the national past time here in the south. Like vast car boot sales spread over a village square or ‘boulodrome’ or along the canal they are usually held on a Saturday or Sunday. They are advertised locally and are heaven for those looking to pick up bargain antiques or knick knacks. Locals join with traders to sell everything imaginable.
Cities and Shopping
Bize is halfway between Carcassonne and Beziers (both about 45 minutes by car) and around the same from Perpignan. Further afield are the big cities of Toulouse and Montpellier which can be reached in 2 hours or so
Narbonne is the nearest city about 30 minutes away by car and is our favourite. It has a lovely old cathedral and a handful of independent shops dotted along the surrounding streets and along the Canal Robine which cuts the city in half. Les Halles as mentioned above is worth a visit in the mornings or for lunch
Carcassonne – everyone must visit the old Cité once, but preferably not on a weekend in August when it is full to bursting. The medieval ramparts are stunning and the narrow streets and alleyways are reminiscent of every movie set in the middle ages, and straight out of a Harry Potter novel. As you would expect it is also full of tourist shops and restaurants, but is no less fun for that. There are guided tours and trips in horse drawn carriages.
The modern city sits in the shadow of the cité on the river and is good for shopping and browsing.
Beziers has a handful of lovely old streets near the cathedral and overlooking the Orb Valley but serious shoppers head to the Polygon, a modern shopping mall on the edge of the town centre. It is also the home of the Feria (bull fighting festival) in August which creates a rowdy atmosphere for a few days when the main streets are closed to traffic and stalls and bars take over.
Occitanie is the largest wine producing region in the world, and therefore there are literally hundreds of caves and domaines to choose from for ‘degustation’ and to buy wine.
If you are interested in an organised tour we can recommend Vin en Vacances or Taste du Languedoc who operate these in the area. We can also arrange a tasting and tour of the ‘wine barge’ at the cave at Chateau Ventenac for you with a little notice. Otherwise there are hundreds of places dotted along country roads who are happy for you to drop by during business hours – avoid lunchtime, there will be nobody there!
Get In Touch
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3 Avenue de l’Amiral Narbonne
11120 Bize Minervois
Telephone: 00 33 (0)4 68 40 11 13
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