Bonjour! (I don’t think I could be more stereotypical if I tried. Whatevs.)
But actually everyone in these sleepy towns say bonjour to one another all day everyday. In complete honestly, initially I wasn’t as excited about France as I was about Spain. Well that turned around pretty fucking quickly.
Waking up at 7:30am definitely had me dragging my feet in the morning, but boy did today end up being the best day of my trip so far. By far. I’m staying with a guy who runs his own vineyard so I guess sacrificing some sleep to go to work with him and learn how to make wine was worth it (not to mention the perk of literally having a never-ending tap of wine). There’s really no other way to explain my day other than a timeline:
7:30: (having difficulty) waking up
8:05: arrive at vineyard
8:10: sampling all the wines (drinking, not spitting)
9:00: fresh bread at local bakery
11:30: picnic at vineyard consisting of wine, cheese, ham, apples, and a baguette
12:30: siesta in vineyard
1:30: exploring 5000 year old dolmen
2:00: picking potatoes from garden for dinner
3:00: walking through Minerve eating fresh baked bread at local store only open on Tuesdays
5:00: aperitifs and dinner (with homemade wine)
If that doesn’t sound like the perfect day then idk what is. But here’s the most impressive parts of it all. The the site of the dolmen, the trees were wrapped in tapestries and a stone sacrifice like structure sat before it. It’s one of those things where I wanted to explore it but simultaneously thought that if I touched the wrong rock I would be cursed forever. I guess we’ll see. The thought of the people that must have walked where I have 5000 years ago is insane- no electricity, no running water, and most importantly no insta (what).
As I try to describe Minerve, let me just say now that it doesn’t do it justice. The thought that 48 hours ago I didn’t know that Caunes-Minervois/Carcassonne existed makes me want to cry.
Minerve is a tiny village that has one road leading in/out. It is in the middle of a canyon, and the coolest part is it’s all natural (Mother Nature was good to Minerve). The canyon fills with water during the winter but dries out during the summer, so it’s cool because you can walk the bottom of the river where the water has dried out. The few areas that still had pools of water were crystal clear- so clear that it looks like it’s shallow but in reality is three meters deep.
The history of the place is also pretty cool too. Way back when, the Pope ordered Christians to kill all the people in the village, but there was no way to get to the village because of the single road in/out and it being surrounded by a canyon filled with water an all. All these Christians from all over Europe (Italians, Spanish, French) had this last remaining town surrounded but had no way in. Out comes the massive catapult (where I’m assuming they launched blazing horses or something weird like that). Eventually, the people of Minerve burned themselves to death instead of surrendering (sound familiar? Kamikaze anyone?)
Even though I’m definitely not the most nature-y person out there, walking through the canyons with lush trees and crystal clear waters isn’t hard to appreciate (especially while munching on some dank olive/garlic/cheese bread). In the valley you hear like a million types of birds and to top it all off, there’s (another) vineyard on the top of the mountain so you can chill with some wine after.
Instead of miserably trying to explain to you, here is the dolmen and Minerve respectively:
So in love never leaving. I’ve already made plans to have the castle be my kingdom and spend my days at the vineyard, since this area produces the most wine per capita than anywhere else in the world. I’m definitely in the right place. As my dear friend put it, “I’ll buy that entire town for you and make a line of wine named after you. Vintage Erika is gonna become a household name”.