The Region

Bize-Minervois is in the Aude department, close to the Herault.

It is part of “the Cathar country” and there are many historical sights nearby. The most well known city is Carcassonne. Also, just 15 kilometres from Bize, you can find the small village of Minerve.

The Languedoc is the single biggest wine-producing region in the world.  In recent years, there has been a lot of replanting with newer and more in-demand varieties. The Languedoc has earned respect as a producer of excellent wines, and is rapidly gaining international recognition.

Bize itself is surrounded by many fine wineries – 2 kilometres away is the Chateau Cabezac. The famous sweet muscat of St Jean de Minervois is only 11 kilometres away.

Other activities and places to see close by:

Horse Riding
The beautiful hills around Bize are ideal for horse riding – there are two equestrian clubs close by:
Les Appaloosas du Pech
Equestrian Club at Ginestas

Cycling
The countryside around Bize is ideal for bicycle riding, and the Canal du Midi is only a few kilometres from here. If you don’t have your own bikes, they can be hired and delivered to you for free.
Melow Velos, 3 Place de l’eglise, 11200 Paraza
Ph: 04 68 43 38 21 or 06 50 50 01 49
www.mellowvelos.com

A wealth of information about cycling in the Languedoc can be found on Gerry Patterson’s detailed and comprehensive website: Cycling Languedoc.

The Olive Factory
L’oulibo Olive Co-operative is at Cabezac, just 2km down the road from Bize. Here you can taste all the different types of olives and olive oils which they produce, the buttery flavoured “lucques” being one of the favourites. There is also a large gift shop where you can buy olives, olive oil and a huge range of products, household goods and souvenirs from the region. Tours can be arranged.

Bize Market Day
Held every Wednesday morning 10am to 12 noon – on the promenade. A variety of stalls – not always the same – comprising fruit/vegetables, clothing, bread, cheese, a fish van, shoes, flowers/plants, etc.

Tennis
Bize has two tennis courts. If you fancy a game while you’re here – pack a racket!

Market Days in nearby villages
Most markets in the region are morning-only markets.
     Capestang – Wednesday and Sunday
     Olonzac – Tuesday
     St Chinian – Thursday and Sunday

Amphoralis
At the village of Sallèles d’Aude – a museum of Gallo-Roman pottery located on the excavation site at Sallèles d’Aude, not far from the Canal du Midi. It overlooks the excavated remains of Roman ceramics workshops dating from the 1st to the 3rd centuries A.D. Roof tiles were made here, along with a variety of pots, including amphorae.
From April to June

Cinema
The cinema in Bize shows a movie once a week. Dates and details of the movie are shown on the billboard outside the Biblioteque (Library) which is just up the road from the house.

Oysters at Cabezac
There is a bar and a restaurant (a ‘routier’) in the hamlet of Cabezac – 2 kilometres from Bize. If you like oysters – this is the place to go on a Wednesday or Friday evening – about 6.00 or 6.30. The oyster man sets up his stall on the outside seating area, and you order however many you want, they’re opened and brought to your table. For those who don’t want oysters, there’s a little pizza bar adjoining the bar.

Oppidum d’Enserune and Lake Montady
The Oppidum d’Ensérune is an ancient hill-town (or oppidum) near the village of Nissan-lez-Ensérune, close to the Canal du Midi. The settlement was occupied without interruption between the 6th century BC and 1st century AD, its location being chosen presumably because it was a hill with good views over the coastal plain, being close to the Roman road Via Domitia, the Montady lake, and fertile agricultural land below.

There is a museum on the site which offers a display of some of the finds on the site, as well as giving more information about the fort and the field system. Being built on a high hill, there is a wonderful view across the plains, and you can look down onto the Étang de Montady, the “pond of Montady”. The field plots are of a triangular configuration due to the radial lines from the center. The fact that the drain for Montady went through Malpas encouraged Pierre-Paul Riquet, the designer of the Canal du Midi, that he could build a tunnel through the same hill for his canal.

Goat Cheese Farm
La Ferme De Combebelle – a short drive from Bize.

Visiting times: 1 March to 30 October: the goat farm is open daily from 1030 to 1200 and from 1600 to 1900 except Monday afternoon. It is open on Sundays and holidays at the same times. To be sure to see the goats, you are advised to arrive shortly before 1700 for the return of the flock and to watch the milking. You can taste and buy the cheeses and a small range of local produce in the farm shop. Good for children.

Old Book Shop – Le Someil
le Trouve Tout du Livre – a treasure-trove of old out-of-print books, posters, etc. Le Someil is a delightful village on the Canal du Midi, about 5 km from Bize. A ‘must-see’, as is a visit to the book shop. A step back in time.

Bird Watching in the Languedoc
The Languedoc is an ideal area for bird-watching – one of the most diverse regions in Europe. Details of bird varieties and locations can be found here.

And here’s a great article written by an avid bird-watcher who lives in this region – a comprehensive list of birds (with many lovely photos) to be found in the Valley of the Cesse around Bize.