Our region – Occitanie
BIZE MINERVOIS – L’Oulibo Olive Factory
At the entrance into Bize, the Coopérative Oléicole L’Oulibo is the only olive co-operative in the Aude deparment.
Olives from across the region are pressed here, and sold in a large and well-presented shop. There are also daily guided tours, conducted both in French and English. The shelves heave with practically every variety of olive under the sun, including Luques, Olivière, Aglandau, Picholines, Ascolana and Bouteillan. It’s the bright green Luques that are most famous and prized here (said to be buttery in flavour), and you are free to taste them and all the other varieties.
As well as olive oils, you’ll find beautifully presented gift-packs of conserves, olives, oils and even soaps.
Minerve is a picturesque village, about 25 minutes from Bize, that is classed as one of the ‘most beautiful villages of France’.
The fortified medieval village, with many of the fortifications still in place, is perched on a naturally defended rocky peninsula high above a canyon in the barren Languedoc landscape – Minerve is above the gorge carved by the River Cesse before it disappears underground into a natural tunnel.
Near the castle is the very ancient (11th century) Roman style Church of Saint Etienne that stands at the top of the village. Its altar is thought to date back to the year 456.
6 minutes from the village of Minerve is a village called Lauriole where there is a road that slopes upwards. Anything that you put on this road will roll up the hill. Try putting your car in neutral and it will go uphill. The same goes for a plastic water bottle and any spherical or cylindrical shaped items.
LE SOMAIL – “TROUVE TOUT DU LIVRE” Antique Book Shop
A 10 minutes’ drive from Bize, the village of Le Somail sits astride the Canal du Midi, at the junction of three communes, Ginestas, Saint Nazaire, and Salleles d’Aude. This charming French village owes it’s existence to the canal, as it was founded in the 17th century to serve those who operated and worked on the peniches that were a major form of commercial transport at the time.
Today Le Somail serves the tourist industry, with some of those same classic peniches, converted into luxury boutique hotel barges, bringing their passengers for a lovely afternoon visit or overnight mooring.
Located on the banks of the Canal du Midi, the antique bookshop, ‘Trouve Tout du Livre’ offers 50,000 books that are old, second-hand or out-of-print.
The Roman time and the Middle Ages are the two key periods which left a trace in the History of Aude, the Cathar Country.
45 minutes from Bize, Carcassonne is the biggest fortified medieval town of Europe, listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It has 52 towers, 3 km of ramparts, an Earl’s castle which is a true fortress inside the fortress, and the basilica of Saint Nazaire, a gem of the architecture combining Romanesque and Gothic styles.