As I was going through these pictures I was once again reminded of the reasons why I love Provence so much, there is an austerity that is tempered by tremendous vegetation in the form of pine scrub and othe trees that fills my romantic soul. There is also a timelessness that I haven’t found in other regions of France. Time feels different here, perhaps because as illustrated in the town of Minerve, the villages seem to grow out of the rocks. There are so many hidden caverns in the Minervois countryside that have felt the touch of man since his earliest beginnings. The people themselves are very cognizant of their ties to the land, you see it in the pristine and meticulously kept vineyards all along the region.
I am also reminded of the blazing heat during those few days, we were visibly wilting. I’m not in any of the pictures, only my Tantine L., baby girl and my cousin, our chauffeur, are featured, but I assure you that I felt and looked just as hot. I was very impressed with the hotel, the decor and breakfast were memorable, the only drawback was the lack of a/c. However, I think that everyone, who sees the pictures of our hotel, will agree that it was absolutely unique in its architecture and so fitting to the region.
The Abbey that was located in our little town of Caunes des Minervois was central to the wide raging battle of religious dominance between the Cathars and the Roman Catholics. It was as bloody a war than between the Protestants and the Catholics or the Muslims and the Catholics back in the Middle Ages. The region of Minervois is rich in its Cathar history and there are many sites of which we visited two, the Abbey and the town of Minerve, that were the last stand of Cathar martyrs.
In terms of more uplifting thoughts, I had forgotten that Provence is home to the Canal du Midi, one of my future destinations to fully explore with my hubby. The Canal du Midi was designed to open a travel route from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean sea, thereby bypassing any need to sail around hostile Spain. Francois I asked Leonardo da Vinci to plan the route but it was much later in the 1660’s that a General Roquier marshaled 12000 men to dig the Canal du Midi. It is an extraordinary engineering feat and it is the oldest working Canal in the world. I would love to follow the Canal and stop at all of its locks and thoroughly visit the countryside, eating and drinking all of its bountiful specialities.
As I continue to upload my pictures from my trip, I am increasingly made aware of how lucky I am to have had the chance to take this trip and especially to show my baby girl a good portion of France. It was truly incredible.