The dove of Minerve

Languedoc – Roussillon is home to many beautiful places full of history. One of the places well worth a visit is Minerve, an extraordinary hanging village in the south of France. This natural phenomenon is to be found on a very impressive location, surrounded by gorges who carve into the landscape where two rivers meet, the Cesse and Brian. These gorges formed the natural defences of Minerve in the Middle Ages. What had to be built with human hands in Carcassonne, was offered by nature in Minerve. However, even this defence wasn’t strong enough to protect the Cathars from the crusade…

BLOG 2013 minerve 005

In 1209 an immense army marched along the Rhone to the south of France, to liberate Occitania, as Southern France was then called. Pope Innocentius III had declared that it was Satan himself who kept Occitania occupied. It was the Pope who called for a crusade against this Empire of Evil. In name of this crusade the Christians attacked Minerve in 1210.

The leader of the crusade, Simon de Montfort, closed Minerve from the rest of the world with a large army. From his side of the gorges, he sent a rain of stones by catapult on the small town, as there was no other possibility way to attack. Descending the gorges and then climbing up the other side simply was impossible.

BLOG 2013 minerve 006

Meanwhile in Minerve, house after house collapsed under the rain of rocks. However, that was not the worst enemy of the Minervois yet. The summer that year was exceptional hot and dry. The rivers in the gorges around Minerve were dried up. There still was a well at the bottom of the gorges, but those who dared to go down to get water, were immediately attacked with arrows of the besiegers. The Minervois were without water and they were therefore hopelessly lost in the heat of the summer.

There was no other option but to try to find a settlement. Guillaume de Minerve started negotiations with Simon de Montfort. It was agreed that the Minervois were allowed to leave the city, leaving behind their belongings, however only after renouncing the Cathar faith. A northern French knight was quite upset about this. He had come to kill heretics, not to conquer cities:

“This way you will give the heretics a chance to escape. Of course they will pretend to abandon their faith, to walk off freely.”

But the papal legate, Cardinal Arnaud-Amaury, who was in the company of Simon de Montfort, answered him:

“Do not worry, I do not think many will renounce their faith.”

Cardinal Arnaud-Amaury was right. The besiegers invaded Minerve while singing the Te Deum. They planted a cross in front of the small church, which still is active nowadays. Opposite the cross you can find the beautiful monument with the pigeon. The besiegers went to a house where they had gathered the parfaits. They were asked to renounce their faith. One of them replied:

“Neither living nor dying can separate us from the belief to which we are connected.”

After that they went to another house where the female parfaits were gathered. Simon de Montford tried to persuade them to convert. As he said:

“I want you all to be saved and gain knowledge of the truth.”

It did not help. Arnaud-Amaury was not mistaken. Only three women were persuaded at the last moment by the entreaties of a noble lady, Mathilde de Saint Roch, who was in company of the Crusaders.

At the bottom of one of the gorges, a big stake was built. The besiegers didn’t have to make any effort to put the Cathars on the stake, as they went there by themselves and threw themselves into the flames, one by one. They were one hundred and forty.

It was the first mass burning of Cathars after the beginning of the crusade. Soon there would be more to follow. In Cassès 60 Cathars were burned. At the stake of Lavaur as much as 400 Cathars were killed. Also in Lavaur, the 80 knights who defended the city were hung. The noble Lady Guiraude who protected the Cathars was thrown into a well which was then filled with stones. “And many pretty heretic women were thrown into the fire,” as the song of the crusade (Chanson de la Croisade) tells, referring to a perverse trait of the North French, who “experienced great joy watching this event”. Could this be a reaction to the equality of women and men with the Cathars?

BLOG 2013 minerve 003

These days, you will find the stone in which the profile of a dove is carved opposite the little church in the middle of the village. It has become a famous symbol of Catharism in recent years. You will find it on a postcard in almost every tourist shop, and if you know it only from these images, you will be surprised by how small the actual statue is. The dove of Minerve was created in 1962 by Jean-Luc Séverac, in order of the Municipality of Minerve. The artist himself is amazed about how famous his dove has become: “People absolutely want to believe that it is a medieval dove. Now, if that is what they like to believe, they are more than welcome to do so (Interview in the Cathar special of Pyrénées Magazine from 2000).

BLOG 2013 minerve 004

In Minerve you will also find a wonderful small museum, dedicated to the Cathars. It is located in the aptly named street: “Carrjera del martyrs”. The history of the Cathars is very well explained by small scenes, once set up with lots of love by a local wine grower in his spare time. Monsieur Casque is the current manager of the museum and extends a warm welcome. The museum is called “Hurepel” and an absolute must for those who want a short and clear summary of the history of the Cathars.

Written by Bram Moerland

Magnificent day at Gorges d’Héric

Now the busy holiday season is over, it might be an idea to take a trip to the beautiful Gorges d’Héric. You can easily spend a day at this natural site and it is enjoyable for both young and old.

BLOG 2013 gorges d heric 001 The Héric river over 1000 meters altitude in the Espinousse in le Massif du Caroux and plunges at 8 kilometres for 800 meters down into the Orb river. It is an impressive gorge where you can make beautiful walks. For climbing enthusiasts: there are about 200 climbing routes. You can also swim in the naturally formed rock pools, so bring your bathing suit! In the summer it is a popular place, even for the locals, so best is to come early to get your perfect spot. Besides July and August it is less crowded and still great for walking or swimming. The last only if you’re brave enough, because the water is very cold! Picnicking makes the trip complete, there are plenty wonderful places to spread your picnic blanket.

BLOG 2013 gorges d heric 002If you would like to go to this magical place, you just have to follow the signs to Olargues. As soon as you see the Mons la Trivalle sign, together with the Gorges d’Héric, follow this direction. You can park for 3 € in the high season. Here you will also find a bar where you can drink or eat an ice cream. The bar closes in low season, please keep this in mind as there is nothing much to get after the parking.

BLOG 2013 gorges d heric 003One of the great walks you can do is walk to Héric. There is a perfect track which will lead you all the way up, very accessible for buggy’s and kids. It will take about one and a half hour to get to the top, where you can have a refreshing drink in the café. Downwards will go twice as quickly.

For your information: Maxéa also offers houses for sale in this beautiful area. Please contact us for more inquiries at +33 (0)4 67 24 82 42 or ventes@maxea.fr.

Where to buy in Languedoc Roussillon?

The region of Languedoc Roussillon is one of the sunniest of France. However, within this region, there is a difference in weather. So it is worth your time to investigate which area of Languedoc Roussillon appeals most to you.

Basically, the region is to be divided into four areas: the mountain area (montagne), the foothill areas (arrière pays and passage) and the coastal area (littoral).

BLOG 2013_008 carte languedoc roussillon 003                   BLOG 2013_008 carte languedoc roussillon 004

Real estate wise are the prices in the coastal area quite high. The landscape is flat, not very beautiful (compared to the mountain areas) and it gets very busy during high season. The sun does shine however. The mountain area on the contrary is very beautiful and the prices of real estate are low. However, if you are looking for sunshine, this is not the area to buy. Rain comes down more often in these regions, also in summer.

The area where Maxéa is specialized in, is the foothill area. This area does offer great scenery, combined with sunshine and reasonable prices. Both the departments of the Hérault as the Aude offer great houses.

Languedoc Roussillon is a pleasant region to live in. It is very accessible, both by route and by plane.

BLOG 2013_008 carte languedoc roussillon 005

Close to the Mediterranean beaches as well as beautiful mountains, rivers to swim or canoe, bustling market villages, historical cities and the canal the Midi:  the region appeals to a lot of people to buy a secondary home or even their principal residence. Despite the great interest, especially further inland, the regions still remains its characteristic charm without being overflowed by tourists. Live is good in Languedoc Roussillon!

“CIRCULADES” in Languedoc-Roussillon

A “circulade” is a medieval village whose streets are built in a (continuous) circle around a church or a Bastide. These villages date back to the Middle Ages. Another name used to be “village rond”.

BLOG 2013 circulade 004
Gruissan, where the roads are circeling around the Barberousse tower
© OT Gruissan
 

This way of building began in the year 1000 and lasted until 1130. There are 52 municipalities in Languedoc-Roussillon, who are allowed to have this label. They all have to ensure that the centers of these villages remain authentic. You can recognize the villages by this “label” at the beginning of the village:

BLOG 2013 circulade 002

If you would like more information about the circular villages, please take a look at the website of the “Circulade villages” by clicking here.

Below you will find the “circulades” in Languedoc-Roussillon by department:

Hérault Aude Gard
Aigne Alaigne Aigremont
Alignan du vent Alairac Durfort
Balaruc le Vieux Bellegarde du Razès La Calmette
Castries Bram
Caux Cailhau
Fabrègues Cailhavel
Fouzilhon Capendu
Gabian Donazac
Le Pouget Gruissan
Magalas Issel
Margon La Digne d’Aval
Murviel les Béziers La Force
Nézignan l’Evêque Lasbordes
Nizas Lasserre de Prouille, Magrie
Puisserguier Mazerolles du Razès
Olonzac Montclar
Paulhan Pouzols Minervois
Poussan  Sallèles d’Aude
Gigean Villeneuve les Montreals
Puissalicon
Puéchabon
Roujan
Saint Geniès de Fontedit
Saint Jean de Fos
Saint Pargoire
Saint Pons de Mauchiens

Please do not hesitate to contact Maxéa Immobilier to see if there is a house for sale in one of these circular villages. You can reach us at +33 (0)4 67 24 82 42.

BLOG 2013 circulade 005
Bram, the biggest circulade of Languedoc-Roussillon
© X. Beaujard
 
 

10 Tips to sell your house quicker

At todays market, it is not easy to sell your house. Below you will find ten tips to make your house more attractive to future buyers.

TIP 1 TAKE A CRITICAL LOOK AT YOUR HOME

Look at your home through the eyes of a potential buyer. Start outside and walk your way inside and see if there are already things that draw your attention. If so, change them.

TIP 2 CLEAN UP YOUR HOUSE

The first impression of your house is very important. It is very difficult for a potential buyer to see the possibilities of your house if they have to look through an untidy house. So empty tables, put knickknacks in boxes and store them away, tidy up open cupboards, bring empty bottles to the bottle bank and don’t leave dirty laundry lying around. A clean and tidy house will show its potential, if future buyers have to look through a mess, they will miss it.

BLOG 2013_006 THIRY 001

A beautiful example of a well styled house on sale at Maxéa

BLOG 2013_006 THIRY 002

This lovely villa is situated in the heart of the Minervois

TIP 3 CREATE SPACE

Most people are looking for more space when they want to buy a house. This is a good moment to already move or store some of your belongings. Buyers want to see the space they might want to buy, they won’t be able to see this space if it is full of furniture and personal belongings. Therefore remove unnecessary accessories and furniture with no specific function.

TIP 4 CLEARLY DEFINE THE DIFFERENT LIVING AREAS

In order to give a clear look on your house, it is best to define each room of your home clearly. There are rooms to cook, eat, relax, sleep, etc. If potential buyers see a computer in your bedroom, or an ironing board in the study, they might think there aren’t enough rooms and your house is too small.

TIP 5 DO SMALL REPAIRS

Fix that leaking tap, loose door knob or squeaky door. Small chores that might cost a few 100 euros in total, but that can make a big difference on the selling price. In addition, you avoid the potential buyer to get the idea that complete renovations have to be implemented as the house is well taken care of. This can also have an adverse effect on your sales opportunities and the final price. If you do not have much time yourself, you should hire a contractor to do these repairs. It will cost about 1 % of the selling price, but will earn itself back easily. Big home make-overs are not necessary though, they will cost a lot of money and do not pay back most of the times.

TIP 6 MAKE YOUR HOME NEUTRAL

If your house is very personal, this might scare off future buyers. It is much easier for them to see the potential of your house if the decoration is neutral. So remove personal accessories like pictures or child drawings. Another tip is to give the kitchen a contemporary look, for example by simply replacing the cabinet doors or paint them. Dated tiling in the bathroom can be easily painted with a special coating. Simple and not very expensive tips to neutralize your house. In terms of colors, neutral and natural colors appeal more than bright and flashy colors.

TIP 7 LIGHTEN UP YOUR HOME

Fresh and light walls create space and will make it easier for the people to imagine their own furniture in their future home. Also literally bring light in your home by opening curtains and blinds and let the light in. If there is light in your home, this will make your rooms look bigger.

TIP 8 BRING ATMOSPHERE IN YOUR HOME

The art of bringing your house to live and make it attractive for future buyers, is to bring atmosphere in your home. This should be in little things, like putting up nice kitchen towels. If you don’t live in the house yourself, still leave some furniture. Completely empty homes will sell a lot more difficult as they lack atmosphere.

TIP 9 THINK ABOUT YOUR GARDEN

No matter how nice and inviting your house looks, if the garden is a mess, people could have a bad first impression. Make sure your garden is neat, that the weeds are removed, bushes and trees are well trimmed, the swimming pool is clean, and people will get a much better first impression.

TIP 10 MAKE SURE THE PICTURES OF YOUR HOUSE ARE THE BEST

Before your agents comes to make pictures of your house, make sure your house looks at its best. These pictures are very important, as they have to make future buyers decide whether or not they would like to visit your house. If the pictures are attractive and show all the potential of your house well, you will get more visits.

Maxéa will be more than happy to help you with presenting your house at its best. Please contact us at +33 (0)4 67 24 82 42.

BLOG 2013_006 CHAZALON 001

Another house for sale at Maxéa with a different style

BLOG 2013_006 CHAZALON 002

A contemporary custom-designed villa 30 minutes from Béziers

A free gift from Maxéa: an iPad 2

A win/win situation

In collaboration with our group of estate agencies Vends du Sud, Maxéa is organising a promotional event, offering a free iPad to anyone who has a contact or family member who wishes to buy or sell a property in Languedoc.

Andreas Wagner and Anthony Miskin have lived in the region for almost 20 years now. Friends of theirs who were staying in one of their holiday rental properties were intested in buying a property of their own. Andreas put them in contact with Maxéa Immobilier, who quickly found them their ideal property. After the sale was concluded at the notaire, Andreas and Anthony received their free iPad on this sunny midsummer’s day.

In order to receive your free iPad, simply provide Maxéa with the contact details of a friend/family member who would like to buy or sell his property. You will receive your gift of an iPad once the sale has been completed.

Interested? You can contact us at ventes@maxea.com or call us at +33 (0)4 67 24 82 42.

???????????????????????????????

From left to right: Richard Moerland, Andreas, Anthony, Kirsty, Steve, Shreya

BLOG 2013_005 ipad promotion 004

Happy summers day with our winners

HOUSE FOR SALE: Spacious villa with open space, views and a large pool

On the heights of Lamalou les Bains, this spacious villa with 3 bedrooms has all you could wish for: a lovely situation with views over the forest and beautiful wooded grounds, a large pool, 3 garages and a workshop. This peaceful location is south facing, not far from the centre of this a spa town and 10 minutes from the golf course. Energy label: E.

If you would like more information about this house, you can contact us at ventes@maxea.com or call us at +33 (0)4 67 24 82 42.

BLOG 2013_005 Schulte 001

BLOG 2013_005 Schulte 002