Everyone has a “most dreaded Holiday”. If Christmas is high up on my list, it doesn’t stand a chance as number one when facing New Year’s Eve. Which explains that I often choose to go see the world around that time of the year. In the winter of 2017-18, we landed in Languedoc.
Conhilac-Corbières – our home in Languedoc
Halfway between the walled city of Carcassonne and the town of Narbonne, the small village is a perfectly located, between mountain and sea, between land and water. Vineyards, castles, garrigue (the local flora) and olive trees give it a southern fragrance with a Cathare twist.
From there, it was very easy to drive around and explore the surroundings.
On our first day, we headed west and made a b-line toward Carcassonne. I had wanted to see the old medieval town for a very long time. And I wasn’t disappointed. But I didn’t know how much, going out of the touristic area, I would like the drive through the wild landscapes toward a hidden gem: the village of Lagrasse.
The next day, we chose to explore the northern side of the region, also known as Minervois. This land of tradition, filled with stories of the Cathares, was named after the fortified village of Minerve.
The road-trip fanatic in me was beaming over the unbelievable drive toward the village, along the deep gorges of Cesse and Brian rivers, whose waters shaped incredible natural bridges.
What’s a Cathare anyway?
Between the 10th and 11th centuries, a mysterious heresy known as “Cathare religion” appears in South of France… It soon becomes so popular that the Catholic church feels compelled to eradicate the new cult. Two crusades are headed by the kingdom of France, whose ultimate goal is to dominate the Languedoc and Aquitaine regions. With the fall of the Montségur fortress in 1244, the scores are set. Catholic church: 1. Cathares: 0.
On our final day, we headed west, back toward Narbonne and up to Lyon, by way of Béziers. January might not be the best month to visit Languedoc. Despite the southern location of the region, the weather is still quite unpredictable. A little later in the year, might be a better option, especially if you want to sample the wonderful wines of Corbières.